Friday, August 31, 2012

More Rising Stars in The Republican Party

In case you missed these speeches, they are all worth taking the time to listen to and watch.

In addition to Mia Love, who gave a terrific speech at the Republican National Convention, former Alabama Congressman Artur Davis, who is a reformed Democrat and spoke at the Democratic National Convention in 2008, wowed 'em with this speech:

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley:

Condoleeza Rice was simply magnificent on Wednesday:

Without a teleprompter BTW

Dennis MilllerCondi Rice didn't use a prompter. President Obama would need a prompter to say "Condi Rice didn't use a prompter."
Her most compelling statement in the speech comes at the 4:52 mark (start at 4:20 to get the whole point): 
My fellow Americans, we do not have a choice; We cannot be reluctant to lead and you cannot lead from behind.
And I would be remiss if I didn't give credit to Ann Romney for her tremendous speech. Mrs. Romney painted a picture of her husband Mitt Romney that many (including myself) were unaware.
Guess people can stop with the 'born with a silver spoon' crap.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Some Cool Stuff

Jay Leno Gets Weak In The Knees

Dennis Miller gets a mealy mouth defense of the so-called Republican's war on women from Jay Leno:

Leno:  "I think he (Obama) has compassion for regular people, if the Republican Party is missing anything it's this sort of, War on Women."

Really Jay? "This sort of war on women" Grow a pair if you believe in the bs your spewing instead of hedging like a weasel because you knew Miller was going to skewer you. Good lord what a wuss.

Meanwhile, Miller killed with this line: "I wanna help the helpless, but I don't give a rat's ass about the clueless anymore, Jay."

The Count is a Very Cool Cat

Danny Koker Net Worth
This guy will build you a car or a bike, feed, entertain and tattoo you
Fans of the History Channel's Pawn Stars know Count Danny Koker is the guy they call in when anything with a motor needs to be valuated. Check out this story about the Count from the Las Vegas Review- Journal published last May. The Count's got quite the little empire going out there in Vegas.

What I like about the Count is he comes off as a very likable guy. He really seems like he's a down to earth regular good egg. I was very surprised to see what a savvy entrepreneur he is.

Koker now has his own show on History Channel called Counting Cars. Very Cool.

The Beard Rules

Another show that is very cool is Discovery Channel's Fast N' Loud. The show is about two guys who run a garage in Dallas Texas called Gas Monkey Garage. Owner Richard Rawlings  and master mechanic  Aaron Kaufman run around buying old (especially 2 door) cars and as they put it, slam 'em and sell 'em at auctions or to private buyers. The show tracks how much they spend and make on each project and is a lot of fun to watch. 

They are both hard working hustlers who are sharp operators. 
And Aaron's beard rocks.

That beard can probably fix a flat tire
Warren Blogs For The Boston Herald. Gets Slammed Daily.

The Boston Herald, which is no secret to locals, is a right leaning publication. To their credit (and probably their amusement) they have Massachusetts Senate candidate failure Elizabeth Warren covering the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. Warren is getting absolutely hammered (to use her favorite term) in the comments section.
I predict she is going to lose by double digits unless Senator Scott Brown goes on a commando rampage and wipes out a village.

Happy Birthday Ingrid Bergman August 29, 1915 - August 30, 1982

A Rising Star

Saratoga Springs Utah Mayor Mia Love gave a terrific speech at the Republican National Convention yesterday. She is running for Congress in November. She is a rising star indeed.

And of course, some people have to be complete idiots.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Shame On You Touré

First, I have no idea how SE Cupp sat there and remained so calm as MSNBC panelist Touré made the incomprehensible leap that Mitt Romney's comments about President Obama's 'anger' was racist. This comment was made during a panel discussion on the MSNBC show The Cycle.

I don't understand how Vice President Joe Biden's "y'all will be back in chains" comment, which is clearly pandering at the very least was not greeted with outrage and the indignation it deserved. But according to Touré Mitt Romney's comments are racist.

In case you missed all this, here's text and video of all three:

VP Biden's comment:
“He is going to let the big banks once again write their own rules, unchain Wall Street.  He is going to put y'all back in chains." 
The video:

Mitt Romney's comments:

"So, Mr. President, take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago, and let us get about rebuilding and reuniting America."
The video:

Touré's  comments:

"That really bothered me. You notice he said anger twice. He's really trying to use racial coding and access some really deep stereotypes about the angry black man. This is part of the playbook against Obama, the 'otherization' - he's not like us. I know it's a heavy thing to say, I don't say it lightly, but this is 'niggerization. You are not one of us, and that you are like the scary black man who we've been trained to fear."

The video:

I'm old enough to have seen how people's (read white people) attitudes toward minorities (read blacks) has evolved. Most of the people I know, including me, couldn't care less about someone's ethnic background or skin color. We live in a city and all four of my kids have had many ethnic friends over the years who are more than welcome to our home. It's never been an issue.

That said, I must have missed the meeting about these dog whistle and racial coding remarks that we white people are supposed to be privy to.  For Touré to make these comments about what Romney said and dismiss what Biden said is beyond irresponsible and is doing nothing but fanning the flames of racial divisions in America. It really just needs to stop. People are people.

I came across this video which sums this up better than anything I could ever say. This young lady, Kira Davis brings some much needed sanity to this whole discourse.
Dear Toure:I’d like to tell you a story.I was six years old the first time I heard the word ‘nigger’. Jamie Haney called me that on the first day of school, matter-of-factly. He wasn’t being mean. He was just expressing his amazement at the fact that he was actually looking at a black person, and he thought that’s what we were called. Jamie and I came up through school together as friends, but unfortunately he wasn’t even close to the last person to use that word in reference to me. I grew up in a place where there were no black people. In the ’80′s. I was different. An anomaly. And kids are cruel. And some adults too. I was called a nigger nearly every school day of my life until I was 16 years old. Once, my best friends and I were handing out church flyers at a local diner. An older gentleman (well, maybe 30 but that was OLD to me at the time) who was clearly intoxicated took the flyer from my hand, looked up at me and suddenly shouted “Holy Shit! What are you doing here? I thought your kind was supposed to be out picking cotton or something!” and then proceeded to crack up at his own hilarity. My friends and I clearly had no clue how to handle this (we were maybe 14 at the time); and no one came to my defense or rescue. People stared, but most just looked away in embarrassment and continued with their meals. My friends and I left. We looked at each other, wide-eyed. We were scared, but none of us said a thing. What could we say? They didn’t understand the depth of my pain and I didn’t understand their confusion or helplessness. So we went on with our day, on with our lives. And that was pretty much every day of my life in Prince Edward Island, Canada. I faced names and beat-downs each day. Sometimes I took it. Sometimes I fought back. In a school system that had no experience with minorities in the 1980′s, there was no help to be found. Teacher after teacher and principle after principle said the same thing….if it happens away from the watchful eyes of staff, there is nothing we can do. I had no choice. I endured, until I was old enough to leave; and then I left. I now live in California. Pretty much as far away as you can get from P.E.I. without leaving the comfort of the United States/Canada.I tell you all this not to illicit sympathy. I don’t need that. It’s been a long time since I was that scared but tough little girl. I’ve been blessed many times over since then, and I’ve learned the power of forgiveness. No, I tell you this because I read your comments about Mitt Romney today and they made me sick to my stomach, and very angry. You accuse Romney of “niggerizing” Obama. There is so much wrong with that statement, I hardly know where to begin. You see, that word…nigger….it means something. It means something very real to people like me who actually have intimate, firsthand knowledge of how it can be applied. I resent that you would use that so easily (though you claim it wasn’t ‘easy’, I don’t believe you). You used that term to get some press. Great. Mission accomplished. But in the process you have watered down a term of hate with deep historical significance by applying it where it most certainly does not fit. Toure, I’ve seen hate up close. I know what it looks like. I’ve felt it’s hands on my skin, seen the look in its eyes, felt the burn of its words. It is deliberate and it is real. Racism is not disliing our black President because of his socialist leanings. Racism is the scar I carried near my lip for decades after one particularly harsh punch in the mouth from a kid screaming “NIGGER!” at me while swinging away. Racism is that guy in the diner, the hoses and dogs turned on folks from my grandparent’s generation just looking to drink at a decent water fountain. When you accuse a person of racism, THAT is the legacy of hate you are laying at their feet. It’s every bit as heinous as accusing someone of being a child molester arbitrarily. When you accuse Mitt Romney and other conservatives like me of being racist based on no other proof besides the fact that we vehimnitly disagree with this President and his policies, you dilute the history and experiences of people like me. You cheapen that word – nigger. You rob it of it’s true horror – a horror we should never forget or take for granted.Not only that, Toure; but you cheapen yourself. You make it clear to blacks like me that you, indeed have no clue in hell what real racism is or where it can be found.Accusing Mitt Romney of the “niggeriazation” of Obama is ugly, base, cheap and just plain wrong. You owe him and people like an apology. You seem like an intelligent guy. If you disagree with Mitt Romney and me, do so on the merits of the issues at hand. Don’t prostitute yourself on a network that it more way more white (percentage-wise) than the Republican party. It’s a song and dance eerily similar the minstrel shows of the past. You and I know full well the execs at MSNBC laugh and applaud and sign your paycheck every time you put on your tap shoes. Don’t like that reference? Hey, as you said so yourself, Im just using the same old race-baiting playbookyou and the Democrats have been using for decades.You should be embarrassed.

Here is the video:

Kudos to Ms. Davis for speaking the truth and trying to put a stop to all this divisiveness that is tearing apart this nation.

One point Touré focused in on as part of the "dog whistle" speech was Romney supposedly saying the word anger twice. Somehow saying anger twice is the secret code to imply some sort of racist signal like when Commissioner Gordon shines the Bat Signal.

I know what that means. Wink Wink.
One problem, though, Romney said the word anger once.
Oh, and Touré, just so you know, I was never "trained to fear the scary black man" either.

The hostess Krystal Ball ( is that really her name or was she a stripper before she got the MSNBC gig??) of the MSNBC show snarkily begins the discussion with the following:
So, in addition to Romney's Medicare whiteboard antics, he is also out with a new attack line on the President that he has been reiterating. Let's take a look then.
(rolls footage of Romney's remarks) 
Whoo! Take it back to Chicago that anger and hate! Umm, so when I listen to that, to me, the words seem sorta loaded. But I wanted to get you all's thoughts.

And then she handed off to Touré.

MSNBC is a disgrace. 

Finally, a video that speaks for itself:

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Email Return Receipts. Sorry, They're Arrogant

Pet Peeve:
Ever open an email and get one of these?

Whenever someone sends a return receipt for an email, it smacks of arrogance and mistrust. It tells me that the person who sent the email is already looking to nail you to the wall before you even respond.

I'm not going to sugar coat this; I get really annoyed when I see one of these infernal messages when I open an email. And I ALWAYS ANSWER NO.

I pride myself on being a total professional at my job and always respond to all messages promptly and courteously. There's no need for the sender to have feedback on when or whether I read their oh so important message.

If you're one of these folks who send these, please stop. You come off as a self-important tool.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

We Can't Throw Anything Away

We live in a complex world.
That is not much of a surprise to many, but sometimes, in the interest of 'doing the right thing' unintended consequences result.

Fill it up once baby!
For example, the city where I live has a trash policy where each house is allowed a 64 gallon container for trash. We also have a small recycling bin and they allow you to put bottles, cans and plastic in another container. In the warmer months, they also pick up yard waste.

Out of all of these options, the yard waste has become the most beneficial as there are no limits to what they will take within reason. For example, I use two regular size trash barrels (you know the ones they USED to take for trash) and fill them up with lawn clippings, weeds, etc. This is better than using those infernal paper bags that Home Depot and others sell. Those are a pain to use especially if it's windy.

The worst part of all this so-called waste reduction is there is still the same amount of trash and refuse as there was before this program was instituted.  I don't have stats to back this up, but my guess is that everyone still has the same amount of stuff (or more) to throw away as they did before.

What does this mean?
Well, you can recycle bottles and cans, cardboard and plastic and separate them out from everyday refuse. That's fine, I think recycling is a wonderful idea in principal, I'm not so sure how practical it is, but that's another subject. Yes, we should all try to reduce the amount of waste we generate, but I'm not sure restricting what you can throw out each week is the answer.

Point #1. Water.

We've all been told that bottled water is better for us, so for the past 20 years or so, everyone buys water. Which means everyone also has to dispose the containers. Which means more waste. Everyone walks around with water bottles these days, and they are all over the place. On the ground. Funny how you don't see any 'stop pollution' commercials these days when everyone is 'supposed' to be so environmentally conscious. Yet people continue to toss water bottles around all over the place. So what's been solved there?

Whatever happened to the litterbug?
It's a simplistic idea, but shouldn't we have put all this energy into making tap water the best resource? I mean, look, if we had the confidence that our municipal water was the best, purest, and safest water, that alone would reduce at least 2/3rds of the waste. Wouldn't it? I know, people walk around with bottled water all day. Well, use a reusable container. Problem solved.

Point#2. Replacing Appliances.

I'd love to replace some old appliances in our house. Problem is, when I do decide to replace them, it's a huge pain getting rid of the old ones. The city wants me to call a local trash company and pay for them to come haul them away. For a fee of course. We used to be able to put things like old appliance and mattresses out with the regular trash and they would take them. For bigger items like refrigerators you had to call for a separate pickup, but there was no fee. Now, we have to pay.

We still have to get rid of the old whatever we're replacing so what results are two different solutions if you don't pay:

1) You put off replacing these items.
2) People replace them, then dump the old ones somewhere like in a field or a vacant lot. What does THAT solve?

For example, environmentalists would love for me to replace my old toilets with these new low flow units that use less water and we go 'better for the environment' but I balk because I really don't want two old toilets sitting around in outside my house for a week or longer. Then I have to pay for the privilege. And I'm certainly not going to toss them into a random lot somewhere.

Another option is to bring the stuff to another town that doesn't restrict what you can toss. If you're lucky enough to know someone who lives in a city or town where they still take everything, you can bring it there, but here's another conundrum:

We all want to use less gas so most of us drive smaller vehicles, therefore, most of us don't have the means to haul a refrigerator or two toilets to another town. So if you don't know someone with a pickup truck, you're outta luck there too.

The point is, these environmental restrictions have consequences that inconvenience people and actually hamper the economy because people don't go out and remodel as much because the costs of getting rid of stuff is getting too high.

But what about the environment?
Aren't I being shortsighted by worrying about my little space instead of the future of the planet? Well, I'm not so convinced by all the environmentalist dogma that we are 'destroying the planet'. Yes, as I mentioned, we should be looking into better ways to reuse old objects and so forth. I'm all for it, but please spare me the zealotry about reducing my carbon footprint and all that crap. But again, that's a discussion for another time.

This just came in my email today:
IMPORTANT Dates to remember:
  • Tues Aug 21st; Solid Waste & Recycling Advisory Committee Mtg; City Hall 6:30 PM
  • Sat Aug 25th; Used/Waste Oil {& more} Drop-Off (8-noon) at Waste Water Plant
  • Mon Sept 3rd; Labor Day; curbside collection Holiday Schedule: 'one day delay'
  • Sat Sept 8th; Household Hazardous Waste Day; 9 AM - 1 PM
This is a perfect example of what I'm talking about; Household Hazardous Waste Day means you schlep all your hazardous waste down there and wait in line to get rid of it.

Either way, it all means one thing:


No matter what they try, it still does not reduce the amount of stuff that gets replaced.

All this does is cost us taxpayers MORE MONEY.

The green movement is doing nothing but costing people more money. If I want to get rid of something, I have to pay. Here's a list of the fees:
· Appliances, like stoves, washers, driers and dishwashers will be $17;
· Freon items like: fridges, freezers, A/Cs and dehumidifiers will cost $17 each;
· TVs and computer monitors smaller than 26 inches will be $12 and those larger will cost $22;
· Passenger tires and propane tanks will cost only $7;
· Misc items like small electronics (laptops, VCR, DVD player) are all $5 each;
· Furniture pieces, like mattresses, box springs, couches, futons and tables will cost $12.
And the company that hauls all the stuff away makes money on the items we pay them to take. And the city has a contract with the trash hauler, so they make money on that contract. Who gets stuck with the bill? We do. So every time I need to get rid of one of these items, I pay for the privilege when I thought all along my taxes covered things like this. 

Silly me.

Then there's overflow bags for when the 64 gallon container isn't enough. For a fee of course:
The purple ‘overflow’ bags will be available in local markets, retailers, convenience and grocery stores after Valentine’s Day. The 33-gallon draw-string bags come in 5 packs for $7.50 [a roll] and are intended for all refuse that does not fit in the wheeled cart. Trash inside the carts does not require ‘purple’ bags, but should be bagged. Per DOR there is no Mass sales tax added to the purchase price of bags.
How nice of them not to tax the bags, someone at the state house screwed up on that one. I bet they'll figure that out and lay a tax on them at some point after everyone is not paying attention.

And of course the official explanation is to SAVE US MONEY!!!! Oh Joy. Whenever any municipality or government agency tells you, the taxpayer, that they are implementing any program that will SAVE US MONEY, it will COST YOU MORE. Especially here in Massachusetts.

Here's the reason they changed to this new system in my city on their website:
1. What is the reason for the change in garbage collection?
Automation has been shown to reduce operating costs, improve the appearance of our neighborhoods, and reduce injuries to workers.
There was a $4.5 million deficit between resident fees and the cost to provide solid waste collection to all 26,500 eligible households. Those deficit dollars should be going to schools, roads, infrastructure, etc. 
This program was implemented in March of 2009. The residential property tax rate in my city jumped from $13.27 per $1000 in 2010 to $14.77 in 2011 so it appears that this plan is not saving any money. Now I'm not going to say that the tax increase is solely based on trash removal, but every single politician always sells the public on how much any given program will save them. Once again, taxes increase.

Sounds like the part about improving the appearance of our neighborhoods backfired too. People who don't want to pay to get rid of something will just dump it somewhere.

Here are some recent news clippings from the city where I live:

City officials made it abundantly clear this summer that they are not taking illegal dumping of furniture and other items lightly. And now they are trying to add some bite to their bark. Anyone caught illegally dumping furniture and other items will be subject to a $100 fine for a first offense and a $200 fine for a second offense if the City Council adopts the recommendation made last night by its Neighborhood/Traffic/Recycling/Utilities subcommittee.
Anyone caught illegally dumping furniture and other items will be subject to a $100 fine for a first offense and a $200 fine for a second offense if the City Council adopts the recommendation of its Neighborhood/Traffic/Recycling/Utilities subcommittee. That three-member subcommittee voted unanimously Thursday night to recommend the stiffer penalties after hearing reports all summer of illegal dumping throughout the city's streets and neighborhoods. 
City officials have captured and will turn over to police photographic evidence of three incidents of people illegally dumping furniture and other items at an empty lot on Saturday, officials said yesterday. The city documented the illegal dumping in the neighborhood by utilizing surveillance cameras set up at the site earlier this month. In addition to the mattresses, the suspects also allegedly deposited box springs and mattresses. 

So much for that point!

And the last line of the reason for the change in garbage collection was to save money so deficit dollars can fund schools, roads, infrastructure, etc. Yet the taxes still increased.

What a surprise!!

Perhaps the solution is to pickup items like mattresses, small appliances and furniture a few times a year at residences to help curb issues like illegal dumping. I know some people won't pay any attention or won't want to wait, but the majority who try to play by the rules might benefit. This may also spur people into replacing older less energy efficient appliances without having to worry how to get rid of the old ones. Isn't that a win-win with people buying new items and replacing inefficient appliances?

The bottom line is the old saw about the road to hell is paved with good intentions (and old TVs and mattresses) certainly applies here. All these feel good laws and policies have, as I said, unintended consequences that ultimately hurt our economy.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Revenge. Vermont Style

This (unless you work for the Newport Vermont Sherrif's Department) will make your day.

A local farmer, upset that he had been arrested for marijuana posession and resisting arrest (that should have been a clue) in July exacted his revenge by driving a Case MX 255 tractor to the police station and flattening 6 police cruisers in the parking lot.

Also great for crushing police cruisers!

Nobody inside the station was aware of the carnage because they had the windows closed and the air conditioning on which masked the noise outside. Until someone called 911 to alert the police, they had no idea that Roger Pion, 34 of Newport Vermont was out in the parking lot having his own personal demolition Derby. (Locals will get the capitalization of Derby. It's a pun. The next town over is Derby VT where I just happen to be. I have a vacation home up here. I can't wait to drive by later on today.)

The hilarity continued as a worker across the street described it this way:
The spectacle was witnessed by United Christian Academy senior Mark Quirion, 17, of Coventry, who works at the Mountain Farm View Stand across the road. He noticed the tractor but thought nothing of it, having seen the same piece of machinery travel the same road on prior occasions. When the tractor turned into the sheriff's station, Mark said, “I saw him back it up some and then drive it up and over the top of one of the cars parked in the lot. It was then that I really knew something very unusual was going on at the sheriff's station.”
Awesome: "It was then that I really knew something very unusual was going on at the sherriff's station."
Yep, a guy on a huge tractor running over police cruisers would correctly be categorized as unusual.

Sure, we can use 'em as convertibles now, but you do know it gets really cold up here in the winter?
By the way, is that cop actually laughing????

Then the story gets even better:

By this time, Mark Quirion had made his way from the stand to a closer vantage point across the road. From there, he saw Pion go up and over the car pile and then reverse back over it. At that point, Pion exited the station.With the cruisers crushed, most deputies pursued the tractor by foot; but two others, who had been out with their cruiser, returned and gave chase. They were joined by civilian Mike Riendeau, whose car had been commandeer by deputies in pursuit with Riendeau as driver.Pion was finally apprehended at gunpoint on The Causeway in Newport in front of Passumpsic Bank, where he put the tractor into reverse, causing the pursuit vehicle to take evasive action and cause another minor collision.

The guy had to stopped at gunpoint!! He was one angry farmer!!

Well they'll definitely fit under drive through now

If only they had known that he was going to do this monster truck style, they coulda sold some tickets

Roger Pion, 34 Angry Farmer

Mr. Pilon is being held on $15,000 bail. Maybe he can use the tractor as collateral!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

When Will People Learn That The Left Lane Is For Passing????

This is for people who drive in the left lane and will not yield to others:

Please, please, please. for all of us who dearly just want to get from one place to another with the least amount of hassle, please read this.

I've written about this before in part, but it can't be written about enough until we get people to understand why this is such a big problem.

I just don't understand the need for some drivers to get and stay in the left lane. We've all seen them. They are in the left lane staring straight ahead doing about 10 mph slower than the flow in all the other lanes. Drivers will go around them, but there are times when you want to go faster and get stuck behind one of these geniuses and THEY WON'T BUDGE.

The next car in front of them is about 1/2 mile ahead, there's enough room for them to move over into the next lane but you can't get over and pass them. Ever been in this situation?

For those of you who "cruise" in the left lane, please read this:

It is ILLEGAL in most states to drive in the left lane and not yield to faster vehicles.

You don't believe this, Jane and Johnny Obstacle?


It is a phenomenon that seems to be pervasive in every state on virtually any multi lane highway.

The chart below indicates there are 29 states with laws on the books where driver in the left lane are required to move over if driving slower than normal traffic.

Note the law does not say the speed limit. It says slower than normal traffic. That means if the speed limit is 65 mph and you're in the left lane doing 70 mph and others are passing you on your right and you have cars behind you trying to pass you YOU MUST MOVE OVER ACCORDING TO THE LAW in these 29 states.

It is not incumbent upon you, Mr. or Ms. Left Lane Slow Driver, to regulate the speed of others. It is, however, incumbent upon you to GET OUT OF THE WAY.

Click on the image to enlarge

The breakdown for the rest of the states:

Left Lane Only For Turning - 10 states
Weak Or No Law - 5 states
Must Move if Blocking Traffic - 6 states

The LAW is against you Mr. or Ms. Obstacle. Simply stated : YOU NEED TO MOVE OVER. BY LAW.

The logical question then is of course: "Why isn't this enforced then?"
The Answer: If troopers are pulling left lane violators over during commuting hours, what do you think will happen? MASSIVE TRAFFIC JAMS.

Here is another link to Keep Right laws in all 50 states.

Some tidbits from around the nation:

  • A radio spot from an insurance company in Washington State calls them Oblivious Left Lane Occupants.
  • Quotes from a Washington State Trooper (article here):
"Some people have asked if we actually stop drivers for staying in the left lane, and we absolutely do," Sgt.  J.J. Gundermann of the Washington State Patrol told Pemco. "The Legislature's intent is for the left lane to be used as a passing lane, and ultimately some people need a ticket to get them to comply." "If almost half of drivers don't know that left-lane camping is illegal, that might explain why it seems so common on our freeways," Pemco spokesperson Jon Osterberg said. "Perhaps we simply need to increase awareness."
Common practice and most law on United States Highways is that the left lane is reserved for passing and faster moving traffic, and that traffic using the left lane must yield to traffic wishing to overtake. The United States Uniform Vehicle Code states:
Upon all roadways any vehicle proceeding at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic ...
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's website on "Keep Right Laws" points out that:
This law refers to the "normal" speed of traffic, not the "legal" speed of traffic. The 60 MPH driver in a 55 MPH zone where everybody else is going 65 MPH must move right..."[3]It is also illegal in many states in the U.S. to use the "far left" or passing lane on a major highway as a traveling lane (as opposed to passing), or to fail to yield to faster moving traffic that is attempting to overtake in that lane. For example, Colorado's "Left Lane Law" states:
A person shall not drive a motor vehicle in the passing lane of a highway if the speed-limit is sixty-five miles per hour or more unless such person is passing other motor-vehicles that are in a non-passing lane...[4]

Video discussion about why do people drive in the left hand lane in Oregon

Get it?????????

Stay to the right, my friends

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bill Mauldin, Willie and Joe Get A Postage Stamp

I got an email forwarded to me by my neighbor and thought I'd pass the story along. It's yet another compelling story about those who fought in World War II. It's important to keep these stories alive as they are not only ingrained into the fabric of this nation, it is a part of our history that should not and cannot be forgotten.

Back in 2010, the United States Post Office released a commemorative stamp honoring a World War II Army cartoonist. What is so significant about a cartoonist getting a stamp? First of all, it's an extraordinary honor, secondly, there are many generals and admirals who have not received such a tribute.

The story below explains how and why this man came to be so beloved by GI's and how his work affected soldiers on the front lines.

Bill Mauldin was a cartoonist who drew for The Stars and Stripes, the United States Armed Forces newspaper. Some of you like me, may have seen some of Mauldin's drawings before but never knew about the man behind them. The story below fills in all those details.

Get out your history books and open them to the chapter on World War II. Today's lesson will cover a little known but very important hero of whom very little was ever really known. Here is another important  piece of lost US history.

Bill Mauldin in WWII

Makes ya proud to put this stamp on your envelopes...   
Bill  Mauldin's stamp honors a grunt's hero. The Post Office gets a lot of criticism.  Always has, always will.  And with the renewed push to get rid of Saturday mail delivery, expect complaints to intensify. But the United States Postal Service deserves a standing ovation for something that happened last  month:  
Bill Mauldin got his own postage stamp.
Mauldin died at age 81 in the early days of 2003. The end of  his life had been rugged. He had  been scalded in a bathtub, which led to terrible injuries and infections; Alzheimer's disease was  inflicting its cruelties. Unable to care for himself after the scalding, he became a resident of a California nursing home, his health and spirits in rapid decline.    

He was not  forgotten, though. Mauldin, and his work, meant so much to the millions of Americans who fought in World War II, and to those who had waited for them to come home.  He was a kid cartoonist for Stars and Stripes, the military newspaper; Mauldin's drawings of his muddy, exhausted, whisker-stubble infantrymen Willie and Joe were the voice of truth  about what it was like on the front lines.  

Mauldin was an enlisted man just like the soldiers he drew for; his gripes were their gripes, his laughs their laughs, his heartaches their heartaches. He was one of them. They loved him. 

He never held back. Sometimes, when his cartoons cut too close for comfort, superior officers tried to tone him down. In one memorable incident, he enraged Gen. George S. Patton, who informed Mauldin he wanted the pointed cartoons celebrating the fighting men, lampooning the high-ranking officers to stop. Now!  

"I'm  beginning  to feel like a fugitive from the' law of   averages."   
The news passed from soldier to soldier. How was Sgt. Bill Mauldin going to stand up to Gen. Patton? It seemed impossible.   

Not quite. Mauldin, it turned out, had an ardent fan: Five-star Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, supreme commander of the Allied forces in Europe. Ike put out the word:  Mauldin draws what Mauldin wants. Mauldin won. Patton lost.

If, in your line of work, you've ever considered yourself a young hotshot, or if you've ever known anyone who has felt that way about him or herself, the story of Mauldin's young manhood will humble you. Here is  what, by the time he was 23 years old, Mauldin accomplished:

"By the way,  wot  wuz them changes you wuz gonna make when you took over last   month, sir?" 
He won the Pulitzer Prize, was featured on the cover of Time magazine. His book "Up Front" was the No.1 best-seller in the United States    

 All of that at 23. Yet, when he returned  to civilian life and grew older, he never lost that boyish Mauldin grin, never outgrew his excitement about doing his job, never big-shotted or high-hatted the  people with whom he worked every day.

I was lucky enough to be one of them. Mauldin roamed the hallways of the Chicago Sun-Times in the  late 1960s and  early 1970s with no more officiousness or air of haughtiness than if  he was a copyboy. That impish  look on his  face remained 


He had achieved so much.  He won a second Pulitzer Prize, and he should have won a third for what may be the single greatest editorial cartoon in the history of the craft: his deadline rendering, on the day President John F.Kennedy was assassinated, of the statue at the Lincoln Memorial slumped in grief, its head cradled in its hands. But he never acted as if  he was better than the people he met. He was still Mauldin, the enlisted man.

During the late summer of 2002, as Mauldin lay in that California nursing home, some of the old World War II infantry guys caught wind of it. They didn't want Mauldin to go out that way. They thought  he should know he was still their hero.    

 "This is the'  town my pappy  told me about."   
Gordon Dillow, a columnist for the Orange County Register, put out the call in Southern California for  people in the area to send their best wishes to Mauldin. I joined Dillow in the effort, helping to spread the  appeal nationally, so Bill would not feel so alone. Soon, more than 10,000 cards and letters had  arrived  at Mauldin's bedside.
Better than that, old soldiers began to show up just  to sit with Mauldin, to let him know  that  they were there for him, as  he, so long ago, had been there for them. So many volunteered  to visit Bill  that there was a waiting list.  Here is how Todd DePastino, in the first  paragraph of his wonderful biography of Mauldin, described it:
"Almost every day in the summer and  fall of 2002 they came to Park Superior nursing home in Newport Beach , California , to honor Army Sergeant, Technician Third Grade, Bill Mauldin. They came bearing relics of their youth: medals, insignia, photographs, and carefully folded newspaper clippings. Some wore old  garrison  caps. Others arrived resplendent in uniforms over a  half century old. Almost all of them wept as they filed down the corridor like pilgrims fulfilling some long-neglected obligation."  

One of the veterans explained to me why it was so important: "You would have to be part of a combat infantry unit to appreciate what moments of  relief Bill gave us. You had to be reading a soaking wet Stars  and Stripes in a water-filled  foxhole and then see one of  his cartoons."   

"Th' hell this  ain't  th' most important hole in the world. I'm in it."  
Mauldin is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Last month, the kid cartoonist made it onto a first-class postage  stamp. It's an honor that most generals and admirals never receive.   

What Mauldin would have loved most, I believe, is the sight of the two guys who keep him company on that stamp.
Take a look at  it. There's Willie. There's Joe.  


And there, to the side, drawing them and  smiling that shy, quietly observant smile, is Mauldin himself. With his buddies, right where he belongs. Forever.       
What a story, and a fitting tribute to a man and to a time that few of us can still remember. But I say to you youngsters, you must most seriously learn of and remember with respect the sufferings and sacrifices of your  fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers in times you cannot ever imagine today with all you have. But the  only reason you are free to have it all is because of them.
I thought you would enjoy reading and seeing  this bit of American history!