Happy New Year

| It's another new year. Time just flies by when you're watching the world go to hell in a handbasket!  more


Mark my words

| Not even a week ago, I made bold predictions for the new year. I hate to say "I told you so" but I told you so!  more


A bûche bonanza

| Following publication of my story of last year's Christmas Chez Paul (December 2006), two of my friends were inspired to culinary artistry of their own.  more


Stupid is as stupid does

| It's becoming increasingly difficult to believe that the fittest survive, as Darwin said. Consider:  more


A matter of size

| Little, everyday activities have a way of jarring your mind, sending you back in time. My laptop underwent its monthly software/hardware checkup this week. It identifies any necessary upgrades and makes them available to me at the click of a mouse. (This is one of the things HP actually does well). As it happened, I needed two software upgrades that involved massive downloads. The Logitech webcam software was 76Mb, and the InterVideo WinDVD player was another 30Mb. With a cable broadband connection, the download took just a couple of minutes. But as I thought about the size of those two downloads, I remembered what personal computing was like back in the old days.  more


Guardian angels

| I don't think of myself as technology-challenged. For years I've been the go-to guy for many of my colleagues and friends when their computer won't behave. I'm what they call an "early adopter," ready to try new things. I'm the one that Wanda next door calls when she's pushed a wrong button and her TV only gets three channels. I drive a Prius, for crying out loud!  more


A fish story

| For every solution there must be a problem somewhere, but for the life of me I can't think of the problem for which AquaOne Technologies' Fish n' Flush is a solution. Fish n' Flush is a toilet with an aquarium surrounding the tank.  more


Bush's new strategy for Iraq

| The Decider deliberated for weeks before unveiling his new strategy for Iraq. His speech was not new, not a strategy, and might not even have been about Iraq. It was such a muddle there's no telling what he was saying — probably that was the point.  more


Security scare at PSP

| There was a minor security scare at Palm Springs International Airport the other day. Fortunately, the incident was resolved without injury, damage, nor loss of life. Réal, who now spends most nights working the ramp at the airport, told the story at breakfast Saturday.  more


Fog of war

| The Bush administration is running their fog machine on Max when it comes to the "new way forward" in Iraq. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley hit the Sunday morning talk shows to do his bit in the selling of W's new strategy, aka stay the course. Frankly, watching him made me want to throw up.  more


There's always Hope

| That's Hope as in Bob Hope Chrysler Classic golf tournament. Marshal Paul reporting for duty.  more


Hope diary

| I had thought that last year, the first year of the tournament at its new home course, set a new standard for disorganization. I was wrong. Very wrong. The scene at Volunteer Headquarters at 7:15am was chaos bordering on insanity.  more


Zany Cheney

| It is time for the Republican Grand Pooh-bahs of Congress to pay a quiet visit to the White House to deliver a message to George W Bush: Cheney is crazy and has to go.  more


State of the Union

| George W Bush delivered his State of the Union report to Congress and the American people last night. The formalities were all there, including the ritualistic applause, but this time it was a more sober and sceptical audience than W has ever faced before.  more


War on common sense

| The war on terror has become a war on common sense.  more


Bowled away

| A new Sunday-night bowling league, the Sandbaggin' Sunday Strikers, started this month to accommodate the overflow from the Monday-night league. I was out of town when they held the organizational meeting, but I showed up the first night and formed a team with another guy in the same boat. There being only two of us, our team is a two-person team whereas all the other teams are three-person teams.  more


Caesar in the White House

| There's more evidence that George Bush has mistaken Hail to the Chief for Hail Caesar. For six years now he has used "signing statements" to put his own spin on legislation passed by Congress and, as The Decider, declare which laws he will deign to faithfully execute. Now he has taken another step to further tighten the screws on the machinery of government to enforce his will.  more



| On Tuesday, cable news viewers were treated to non-stop coverage of a security alert in Boston that closed waterways, shut down freeways, and brought out everyone from local police to Homeland Security. A mysterious device that appeared to have a circuit board, wires, and batteries had been spotted and reported as suspicious. Soon more reports came in, and the game was on.  more


Superbowl party 2007

| For several years now my friends and I have convened to celebrate the rites of SuperBowl, sometimes renting a place for the weekend, sometimes assembling at one of our own places. This year Chez Paul was once again the venue.  more



| After five weeks of play, I am astonished to find that I still hold the third highest score in the Sandbaggin' Sunday Strikers league. That's handicap score, of course, not scratch score. Nevertheless, when you bowl as badly as I do, you accept recognition whenever and however you can get it.  more


Minnesota in February

| No one in their right mind goes to Minnesota in February, unless they have to. But I did. My oldest sister Florence is terminally ill and I wanted to have a chance to say goodbye.  more


Palm tree boots

| A brisk wind this weekend shook some of the boots off the palm trees.  more


The more things change

| Ever since moving to Palm Springs, I've had Palm Springs Disposal Services bill my check/debit card. This has always worked flawlessly.  more


The scarlet license plate

| If Hawthorne were writing today, Hester Prynne would be forced to put the scarlet A on her license plates instead of wearing it on her breast. Sadly, there is a growing movement aimed at finding new ways to mark and shun people, creating an "untouchables" caste in American society.  more


Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!

| As the notorious Rummy would have said, "You go to court with the defendant you have, not the defendant you wish you had." Thus, Scooter Libby ended up on trial and became a felon, guilty on four of the five counts charged against him.  more



| Just a couple of weeks ago it was so cold that the "be careful there might be ice on the road" warning light came on in my Prius. The furnace, that I had bravely turned off when I left for Minnesota, had to be turned back on. Today, the heat is on. A new record high temperature has been recorded. The previous record was 95°F, set in 1997; normal for this date is 79°F.  more


"Mistakes were made here"

| Give him credit, you couldn't see him sweat. Having been caught out firing US Attorneys for blatantly political reasons and then telling bald-faced lies about it to Congress, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales did a song and dance routine before the cameras yesterday. His eyes had that deer-in-the-headlights look, but any beads of perspiration were well hidden.  more


Lovin' Leonardo

| What do the differential gear, helicopter, ball bearings, and tank all have in common? They're all machines designed by Leonardo DaVinci, way back in the 15th and early 16th century.  more


Sandbaggin' strikers

| They said it wouldn't last — but it has. With nine weeks of the season finished, our team in the Sunday night Sandbaggin' Sunday Strikers fun league is doing very well, indeed.  more


Stuck on stupid

| It must be just awful for Laura Bush, having to watch her beloved husband screw up so spectacularly with the entire world watching. The latest crise de stupidité is the inept firing of eight US attorneys for transparently political reasons.  more


On the horns of a dilemma

| I count myself among the 69% of Americans who disapprove of how the Iraq war has been conducted (Newsweek poll, 17-Mar-07). Like many other Americans I believe we need to get out. But I am frustrated and dismayed by the debate over the war because it is dominated by extreme and unhelpful positions.  more


Political theatre of the absurd

| Last week, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) told Wolf Blitzer in his Situation Room on CNN that there were parts of Baghdad safe enough to take a stroll. This week he set out to prove it.  more


Imus overkill

| I've never heard the radio program of Don Imus, but whoever — whatever — he is, he at least deserves credit for knocking the paternity of Anna Nicole Smith's baby off the airways. That's some power.  more


Easter antics

| I just wasn't ready for Easter this year. But it came anyway. It was a strange day.  more


Farewell to Bill

| Each round trip between Palm Springs and Minneapolis is worth about 3600 miles on a frequent flyer program, but going to visit relatives at their departure from this world is not a preferred way to accumulate them. The latest trip was for the funeral of brother-in-law Bill, married to sister Ethel. Bill suffered a massive heart attack Sunday afternoon getting up from his recliner to go do farm chores, as he did every day of his life. At his age and in his state of health, there was simply nothing doctors could do, and he died Monday afternoon.  more


Gonzales is a goner

| Alberto Gonzales' testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday should have erased any lingering doubts about the validity of the Peter Principle. Simply put, people in organizations rise to the level of their incompetence. Bush administration — Q.E.D.  more


Tenet: Not a 'slam dunk' after all

| Coming to a bookstore near you: At the Center of the Storm, by George J Tenet (HarperCollins, 2007).  more


When I'm 64

| My how time flies when you're getting older. It seems only yesterday that I was sixty-three years old, and today I'm sixty-four!  more


269 whatever

| I just don't get it.  more


Young Joshua at four

| Faithful readers will remember the saga of Young Joshua who began life Chez Paul as a seed that sprouted into what looked like a single blade of grass. Benign neglect is apparently good for Joshua trees, for YJ is now a sturdy young lad.  more



| Three years ago I brought home a fuzzy little cactus plant consisting of curiously folded lobes. If I had only known —  more


Little Basin, one last time

| Beginning almost 20 years ago, a small group of us HP employees used to go camping together, often at HP's own campground and recreation area Little Basin. While the composition of the group has changed somewhat over time the "hard core" remained constant. HP will close Little Basin at the end of May, so two weekends ago we had one final camp-out there among the redwood trees.  more


San Diego rodeo

| Last weekend the usual suspects — Bob, Ken, Phil, Réal, and I — piled into Penelope for a trip to San Diego for the rodeo.  more


No amnesty

| Isn't it amazing? Many of the same people who are braying "no amnesty" at the top of their lungs when it comes to immigration are braying "pardon Scooter" at the top of their lungs when it comes to a felon convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice.  more


Shiny baubles

| Sometimes you just have to indulge yourself.  more


Palm Springs tramway

| One of the premier Palm Springs attractions is the aerial tramway, but like so many tourist attractions, locals don't always take advantage of it. This summer Réal and I decided to buy summer season passes, good for unlimited rides through the end of August. It's a "cool" thing to do, especially welcome in the summer when the temperature at the top is usually about 30° less than at the valley floor.  more


5th anniversary

| Not that anyone's counting, but as friend Andy reminded me, it has been 5 years since thousands of us cast off the shackles of corporate servitude by taking early retirement from HP after the HP-Compaq merger.  more


Bald eagle

| In this most patriotic of months, it seems only appropriate to start with a salute to our national bird, the American bald eagle, that has just been taken off the endangered species list.  more


Scooter scoots

| Make no mistake: Scooter should have done time. But by only commuting Scooter's jail sentence, Bush made an understandable compromise. Like almost all compromises, it will leave almost everybody unhappy:  more


Separated at birth?

| They say that everyone has a twin somewhere. While watching Washington Week last night, I was struck once again by how much my friend Carolyn looks like ABC White House correspondent Martha Raddatz. Apart from very similar facial structure, they both have similar ways of scrunching up their face during animated conversation. You be the judge.  more



| When it comes to the critters of the desert, I'm pretty much a live-and-let-live kind of guy. This was, after all, their home long before it became mine. Rabbits, coyotes, lizards, crows, raccoons, owls, roadrunners — que sera sera!  more


Serious sin

| We've seen this movie so many times before: Bible-thumping, moralistic, holier-than-thou, family-values conservative politician goes down in flames, done in by indulging in the very behaviors reviled in others.  more


Below the belt

| Another southern Republican politician has been caught out for affairs below the belt! This time, it's Florida state representative Bob Allen, charged with offering $20 to perform oral sex on a male undercover police officer. Sheesh! Doesn't he know where to find people who would let him do that for free?  more


Ain't technology wonderful?

| My laptop started to act flaky late last week — it began to shut itself off for absolutely no apparent reason. It didn't shut down, it simply stopped, as if the power had been cut off, but with a laptop that makes no sense at all, since when the power fails the battery simply takes over. The first couple of times it happened I shrugged and restarted the machine and went on. Then late Friday morning while I was working on the patio, it shut off again, several times in just a few minutes. Hmmmm.  more


"Customer service" at

| I've subscribed to Consumer Reports for years, even though I don't find the magazine of much immediate use.  more


Do-it-yourself home repairs

| One of Ken's kitchen cabinets seemed to be warping away from the wall, and he invited his friends to help him with the repairs. Accordingly, the usual suspects showed up last night for close encounters of the handyman variety.  more


Customer service at Time-Warner Cable

| This seems to be the month for rants about customer service. Last week's encounter with Time-Warner cable's customer service set a new low. Many companies outsource their customer support to India — Time-Warner Cable has outsourced theirs to Comcast!!  more


Damn spam!

| A new generation of spam has hit the internet. For a long time, most of the spam has consisted of offers for Viagra or Cialis (often spelled in very creative ways); offers to make me a 'bigger man'; or those "urgent security notices" from eBay or Third Fifth Bank.  more



| If you think you have pretty good health insurance, you probably haven't had to use it.  more


Florida's Allen plays the stupid card

| Florida State Representative Bob Allen, righteous crusader for family values, took a walk in the park last month and offered an undercover policeman in one of the park bathrooms $20 for the privilege of giving the officer a blow job. Allen proclaimed that it was all a big misunderstanding. At a press conference the day after his arrest, Allen denied all responsibility, saying, "This is an ugly and unpleasant situation that has been thrust upon me and my family." As if he had been completely passive!  more


Meteor watching

| Sunday night was a new moon and supposedly the peak of the annual Perseid meteor shower, so the usual suspects plus a few more went to Joshua Tree National Park to watch the celestial cavort.  more


Night at the movies

| Over the weekend, I went to Twain Harte to see a movie. But first, an air travel rant....  more


Adios Alberto

| Finally, Alberto Gonzales has done something of service to the country! He resigned as Attorney General.  more


Busted in the bathroom

| Another one bites the dust! This time it was Senator Larry E Craig (R-ID) who was nailed at the Minneapolis-St Paul airport in June for playing footsie under the stalls in the men's room with an undercover policeman.  more



| On Monday, Roll Call ("The newspaper of Capitol Hill") broke the story of Senator Larry Craig's (R-ID) guilty plea following his arrest in a sex sting in the Minneapolis-St Paul airport in June. Today, Saturday, he resigned his senate seat, done in by members of his own Republican party.  more


Visit to the tram

| Our summer passes for the Palm Springs Aerial Tram expired with August, so on Thursday evening, Réal and I took a last hike and picnic on Mt San Jacinto.  more


Bush spin machine at max rpm

| When George W Bush launched his Iraq "surge" in January, he sold it as new strategy that would give the Iraqi government "breathing space" to make the "hard decisions" needed to achieve "reconciliation." Put another way, he would buy time for the Iraqis with more American blood and treasure.  more


In the eye of the beholder

| It's almost time for the Petraeus-Crocker report on the situation "on the ground" in Iraq that we have been breathlessly awaiting all summer. It is, of course, perfectly obvious what they're going to say — they've been rehearsing bits of it in the PR blitz of the last few weeks. Petraeus has a history of seeing things through rose-colored glasses, and there's no reason to believe this time will be any different.  more


Bad timing

| Er, make that Busy! Busy!  more


Sen Craig asks for a mulligan

| Who's writing the script for the saga of Senator Larry E Craig (R-ID)? Whether it's deliberate or not, it is playout out as high farce.  more


Thus spoke General Petraeus

| The oracles of Iraq finally came to town and — surprise, surprise — said exactly what everyone knew they would say. General David H Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker endured two long days on Capitol Hill retelling the story of The Little Engine That Could. Burdened with the task of righting the train-wreck of Bush's war in Iraq, they sought to reassure us one and all that they see light at the end of the tunnel, although, to their considerable credit, they eschewed that ignominious phrase.  more


Summoned to jury duty

| When Ben Franklin quipped, "In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes" he overlooked a third certainty: jury duty.  more


Still a pig

| As they say, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig, and calling "stay the course" by "return on success" doesn't change a thing.  more


Bowling season opens

| Last Monday night was opening night for the new Up Your Average bowling league, playing at Canyon Lanes at Casino Morongo in Cabazon. Casino Morongo moved into a new high-rise building several years ago, and the bowling alley and a bingo parlor now share the renovated old casino building.  more


What a difference a week makes

| A week ago, the desert was basking in normal fall temperatures, highs around 100°F, lows around 70°F. As usual at this time of the year, the skies were clear and humidity was low. In short, perfect desert weather.  more


Palm Springs to Las Vegas

| Last weekend I made another trip to Las Vegas, taking an alternate route over the back roads of the desert and the Mojave National Preserve. Having done this now several times, I am convinced this is absolutely the best way to go.  more


Rodeo in Las Vegas

| Saturday, Phil, Ken, and I went Las Vegas for the annual rodeo. Sophie, the Prius, had already been given directions for the backroads route through the desert, and at the crack of dawn I picked up Ken and Phil for a four-hour drive.  more


Bowling update

| After three weeks, the Rail Splitters stand in 4th place, having moved up from last. The first week we had the misfortune to bowl a team with two absent bowlers, and, by league rules, their spots were filled by a "Vacant" bowler with an average of 150. To our way of thinking that's not at all realistic, considering the averages of the real people in the league, but rules are rules. Consequently, we lost all four games that night, albeit playing against two non-existent bowlers.  more


Another Florida pervert

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Bowling update - week 5

| After four weeks of bowling, the Rail Splitters found themselves in third place with a 10:6 record.  more


Larry Craig, inductee to Idaho Hall of Fame

| Just when you thought the story couldn't get any weirder! Let me recap for those who have been in a coma for the past few weeks:  more


Brunch chez Phil

| Last Sunday we took a break from our normal routine of brunch at Rainbow and did a pot luck brunch at Phil's house.  more


Pioneertown Posse

| Pioneertown is one of those treasures that is practically in Palm Springs' backyard but that seldom makes the list of things to see and do. About an hour's easy drive away, Pioneertown was built in the 1940s as a movie set for western movies and named after the Sons of the Pioneers. If you watched Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, or other B western movies you've surely seen the town. And it is an actual town where residents live in accommodations hidden behind the facades of the movie set.  more


More technology

| Many of us reached the frontiers of technological ineptitude when the VCR arrived on the scene. My own personal Achilles heel has been the cell phone. It seems I am simply unsuited for this wonder of modern communications. The list of failures and disappointments is very long, indeed.  more


Palm Springs Pride 2007

| This past weekend was gay pride weekend in Palm Springs, and they came from everywhere: the beauty parlor, the gym, the ranch. As usual, the Fundies even came from under a rock to join the festivities.  more


Yelling at Yahoo

| The House Committee on Foreign Affairs, chaired by Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA), called the CEO and general counsel of Yahoo to testify and berated them as "moral pygmies."  more


Thanksgiving 2007

| This year the Usual Suspects gathered chez Bob for the annual Thanksgiving feast.  more


Festival of Lights parade

| Each year Palm Springs kicks off the holiday season with the Festival of Lights parade on the first Saturday night of December. People stake out prime spectating spots, some as early as mid-afternoon, setting up their lawn chairs, benches, and stools. After dark, they settle in with their blankets and heavy winter coats to watch.  more


Big wind

| The weather services are fond of issuing Severe Weather Alerts, usually for wind or flood. Today it was for wind:  more


Brunch by the sea

| We had brunch yesterday, basking in the sun while sitting by the sea in San Diego. Before getting on the bus in chilly Palm Springs, we had marveled at the fresh white layer of snow atop Mounts San Jacinto and San Gorgonio; three hours later we were sitting on the patio at the Edgewater Grill in San Diego's Seaport Village, sipping bloody Marys and marveling at the clear blue skies, warm sun, and calm waters of the harbor.  more


Bowling finale

| The inaugural season of the Up Your Average league is now history, and the Rail Splitters acquitted themselves with honor, if little dignity.  more


'Twas the night before Christmas

| Christmas at its best is a time of joy, when bright lights drive back the night and those of a Christian persuasion celebrate the alleged birth of a so-called Savior. Others just celebrate!  more



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