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I resolve…

| It is traditional to begin the new year infused with enthusiasm and resolve to better oneself by changing slothful habits or adopting new ones. It is also traditional that these earnest resolutions last about as long as it takes to commit them to paper — or to pixels, in the case of the web. Enough of that — this year I will make only resolutions that I am sure I can keep.  more

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4 down

| I do several crossword puzzles each day, and almost every week there is a clue answered by OMOO, a novel by Herman Melville about adventures in the South Pacific. Now, as a child I devoured Moby Dick, but that was the extent of my acquaintance with Mr Melville's work. Thanks to my crossword puzzles, however, I had become aware of the titles Omoo and Typee, so the last time I was at the library I picked up a volume including Omoo, Typee, and a third novel Mardi to see what, if anything, I'd been missing.  more

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Whitewater redux

| It's so gratifying to see good works done well. Long-time readers may remember my first visit to the trout farm in Whitewater canyon in 2003. I had heard lately that the fishery had been closed and turned into a park, so on Saturday Réal and I went for a drive to see what they had done. The transformation is wonderful!  more

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What have I done?

| For many years, a group of my friends has gotten together every year for Super Bowl weekend. This used to be a lot easier when we all lived in the same area, but now we are scattered hither and yon. Yon got even bigger in the Fall when Bob and Carolyn moved to Michigan.  more

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But!

| In his last public act of irrelevance, George Bush last Thursday evening bade farewell to the nation he has misled for the past eight years. Before a hand-picked audience of the Bush faithful assembled in the East Room of the White House, Bush looked back through rose-colored glasses and concluded he'd done one heckuva job.  more

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Passing of POTUS 43

| The presidency of George W Bush, 43rd POTUS, passed today at noon, Eastern Standard Time, surrounded by millions of citizens who had assembled in Washington, DC. Many millions more watched the passing on television, broadcast around the world.  more

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POTUS44

| "I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."  more

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Words to govern by

| Did we hear the same speech? After hearing Obama's inaugural address the first time (live) and the second time (replayed during our quiet little inauguration celebration that night) I was ready to pronounce it near perfect in content, in delivery, in effect. To my chagrin, many pundits and speech mavens were less effusive in their praise.  more

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Same old GOP whine

| Eighty-eight keys on the piano, and the Republicans play and sing only one of them. Such lack of imagination!  more

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SuperBowl 2009 — Party 11

| For several years, a group of friends and I have gotten together for Super Bowl weekend, not because we're such big football fans — we couldn't care less, truthfully — but to have a good time enjoying each other's company. This year we're having the party in Grand Rapids, Michigan, at Bob and Carolyn's new house.  more

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Superbowl XLIII — Party 11 - Part 2

| It's all history now. The camaraderie. The food. The game. The outings. The snow. Well, at least the snow is over for the Californians, because we're all home again!  more

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Winter again

| A week ago, when I came back from the Super Bowl weekend in Michigan, it was 80°F when I stepped off the plane. That was then. This is now.  more

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Ink is running low

| My printers are so helpful. They want me never to run out of ink in the middle of some crucial printing job, so they err on the side of caution and start warning me whenever "ink is running low." But here's the deal — What does "low" mean?  more

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Ink may have run out

| Determined to test the limits of my printer's "Ink is running low" warning message, I ignored it for several days to find out what would happen. Today I found out. A new message appeared, "Ink may have run out."  more

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Amboy Crater

| Ever since the first time I took the back-roads route to Las Vegas I've been intrigued by a perfectly shaped volcanic cone just off the National Trails Highway (old US Route 66) near Amboy, CA. It sits in a vast lava bed surrounded by many much-smaller, imperfectly shaped cones. You can't miss it, and you can't help wondering what's inside.  more

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Commander in Chief

| After eight years of the smirking, sloganeering, posturing, and alternate reality of boy-king George W Bush, it felt so good last night to see that we have a president who is in touch with reality and talks to the American people as adults with brains in their heads. Barack Obama's non-state-of-the-union-speech last night was inspiring and confidence building, if for no other reason than it was given by a man determined to actually lead rather than preside.  more

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Important notice

| I've had a CapitalOne credit card for many years, since 2002 at least and possibly before. I originally signed up for the card because they made me a great offer:  more

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The wrong-headed Right

| William Kristol's column in today's Washington Post (25-Feb-2009) would be a real howler if it weren't so pathetic. In a piece titled "Republicans' Day of Reckoning" Kristol urged Republicans to do anything they can, "try in any way possible to break Obama's momentum."  more

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Fools Rush in

| When the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) assembled in Washington last week, they made Rush Limbaugh the keynote speaker. I put this on a par with Caligula making his favorite horse Incitatus a Senator, although I fear it is an insult to Incitatus, a sleek and refined race horse, to make the comparison with someone who has proven himself a horse's ass.  more

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Earmarks

| Bertrand Russell said of obscenity, "It is obvious that 'obscenity' is not a term capable of exact legal definition; in the practice of the Courts, it means 'anything that shocks the magistrate.'" Earmarks clearly fall into the same category, for what they really amount to is spending that offends your own political sensibilities.  more

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The bipolar market

| People are adept at creating explanations. When they are buttressed by a body of observations and tested objectively, these explanations become scientific theories: plate tectonics, evolution, the "big bang," and so on. When they are made up out of whole cloth, these explanations are myths, creation stories, folklore, religion, and so on. And then there is the stock market.  more

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Rewarding incompetence

| This is simply intolerable: AIG, still in business only because the US government has poured over $170 billion into the company, is going to pay bonuses to executives in the very part of the company that brought down AIG and the world financial system with it.  more

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Clinging versus driven

| What a difference a year makes!  more

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Mad as hell

| I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's work, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TV's while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that's the way it's supposed to be. We know things are bad - worse than bad. They're crazy. It's like everything everywhere is going crazy.... I want you to get mad! I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot - I don't want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you've got to get mad.  more

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Hummingbird nest on the patio

| A hummingbird in the family way has chosen my patio for her nest.  more

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More tales of Veo

| It's a miracle! But don't hold your breath — it may not last.  more

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Mortgage salads

| Back in the old days — when Jimmy Stewart worked at the Bailey Building & Loan Association in Bedford Falls, for example — mortgages were easy to understand: the bank lent you money and held a lien on your house until you paid the loan back.  more

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Trader Paul strategy

| If you've been following the trials and tribulations of Trader Paul in recent months, you already know it hasn't been a pretty picture. In contrast to the early years when I tripled the value of my portfolio, lately it's all been downhill. I could have done better by picking stocks at random.  more

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Uncle Ted's 'Get out of jail free' card

| Alaska's "Uncle Ted" Stevens, formerly known as Senator Uncle Ted, got a lovely parting gift, thanks to the Justice Department. They bungled the prosecution of his case so badly that Obama's new Attorney General Eric Holder had to ask that the charges against Stevens be dismissed in the interests of justice.  more

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Hatched

| They're here! After two weeks of sitting serenely on her nest, mama hummingbird now makes frequent trips away from the nest, followed by feeding behavior.  more

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'Tis a wonderment

| 2009 is shaping up to be a remarkable year. In January, we saw the inauguration of the first president who happens to be an African-American. Already that fact has become irrelevant, as Obama rides a wave of public approval (66% approve of how he is handling his job), and the number of people who believe the country is heading in the right direction has more than doubled since he took office (from 15% to 39%) (NYTimes/CBS Poll, April 1-5, 2009). The same poll showed that the favorable rating of the GOP has fallen to 31%, the lowest level in the 25-year history of the question.  more

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Fremont Bank

| While we were all sitting around during Super Bowl weekend, my friend Jim mentioned that he was re-financing his mortgage at a very attractive rate through Fremont Bank, all through the internet. Thus begins my cautionary tale.  more

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Hummer watch

| It's been about a week since the baby hummers were hatched, and, during the day, the mama hummingbird is spending a great deal of time away from the nest. I assume she's off foraging for food, since she has to eat for three (herself and the two growing babies). I took advantage of this fact to try for a closer look at the nest.  more

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Hummer watch continues

| Kids — they grow up so fast!  more

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Fremont Bank, the sequel

| To err is human, to really screw things up you need Fremont Bank. A week ago I was feeling pretty good: the bank had paid off my old mortgage and I had won the "re-draw the documents" skirmish.  more

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Opera in the Park 2009

| Mother Nature was on her best behavior for the annual Opera in the Park. After weeks of cold and wind, the bright sun, warm temperatures, and gently wafting breezes were doubly appreciated by everyone.  more

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Sleeping dogs and just deserts

| The road to hell is paved with good intentions. The truth of that old saw is almost undeniable, and we should think twice before following another old saw, Let sleeping dogs lie.  more

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Fremont Bank - Finally!

| When we last left our saga of refinancing a mortgage at Fremont Bank, Susan had fessed up to yet another mistake, having forgotten all about the $2901.43 I had had to hand over at signing of the loan papers. She promised she would rectify the error and refund the money, and she would call me on Monday as soon as she had it straightened out.  more

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Hummer flight school

| The hummer babies have been very active in the nest for the past several days, and I've been watching avidly so as to not miss their first attempts to fly.  more

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The hummers have flown

| The baby hummers have left the nest.  more

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May Day!

| I've always taken perverse pleasure that my birthday falls on May Day, traditionally "an occasion for popular and often raucous celebrations" (WikiPedia). Its pagan origins are a delicious counterpoint to all the "religiosity" (to use Bill Maher's term) that pervades US culture.  more

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The incredible shrinking GOP

| And then they were 40. Senator Arlen Specter dropped a bombshell on Washington by announcing that he would rather switch than fight; he renounced the Republican party and joined the Democratic party.  more

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Hot rodeo 2009

| The Palm Springs rodeo was held this last weekend at the equestrian center out in Banning. Unlike last year when I succumbed to peer pressure and paid handsomely for a genuine Stetson, this year I bought only beer. Not that I didn't think of buying a jacket on Saturday — it was windy and cold. So much for "Hot Rodeo 2009."  more

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Juror No. 11

| Ever since I moved to California in 1986, I have been on call for jury duty every year, with maybe one or two exceptions. While I lived in the Bay Area I never had to actually go in, and was always dismissed part way through the week via the telephone call-in system. Since moving to Riverside County, however, I have had to go in every single year. A couple of times I've been called into the court room, but the jury panel was filled before they got to me. Another time I sat in the Jury Assembly Room until 4:30pm before a judge came in and announced that the defendant had waited until the beginning of jury selection to decide he wanted to make a plea bargain, and that it took all day to iron out the details.  more

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"We the people" have spoken

| California had another of its seemingly unending special elections on Tuesday to vote on a slate of six ballot propositions that were supposed to fix the budget crisis due to a $21.3 billion shortfall. Five of them were defeated by huge margins in the neighborhood of 65% to 35%. Proposition 1F, to limit officials' salaries when there is a budget deficit, won by an overwhelming landslide, 75% to 25%.  more

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Visiting Big Bear

| Phil was off work this week and wanted to go somewhere, so on Wednesday Phil, Bob, and I toured to Big Bear Lake while Ken and Réal toiled. It's amazing what you find when you're not looking.  more

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Now this is weird

| Last Friday evening, just as I was getting ready to go out for the night, I received a series of phone calls a few minutes apart. Each time CallerID showed CALIFORNIA CALL 760-808-XXXX. Each time when I answered it was an open line: I could hear voices in the background, but there was no response to my Hello. It was not a number that I recognized, and it's my long-standing practice to treat calls like this as nuisance calls, probably telemarketing, and immediately hang up.  more

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Supreme injustice

| The California Supreme Court issued its opinion today on the cases seeking to overturn Proposition 8. It is a 185-page example of tortured legal reasoning leading to a nonsensical conclusion.  more

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The hapless hopefuls

| The good news just keeps on coming!  more

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Return of the roadrunners

| Last Sunday at brunch, we were talking about different kinds of birds, and I happened to mention that I hadn't seen a roadrunner in, maybe, two years. On Monday morning, two of them moved into the complex.  more

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Picnic brunch

| Two weeks ago Ken came to brunch with a newspaper article about Big Morongo Canyon Preserve. "We should go there next week for brunch," he said, "it's the place Bob is always wanting to go to." We promptly decided that Bob should drive (since he wasn't present to object).  more

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Independence Day 2009

| Apart from the historical consequence of the Founders' we're mad as hell and not gonna take it any more rant, they've left us with a middle-of-the-year holiday that is pretty much a do-it-yourself kind of day.  more

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Yoo said it

| George Bush and Dick Cheney told us over and over again that it was necessary to violate our rights to protect our rights and our freedom. Under cover of The War on Terror they scanned our email, listened in on our phone calls, and — well, we don't actually know the full extent of what they did because it's all "highly classified." But the bits we do know are scary enough. And all the while they told us it was all perfectly legal. Yeah, right!  more

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Miasma

| The low temperature last night was 95°F., but that's not the story. The story is how absolutely foul the atmosphere is this morning.  more

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The policeman, the professor, and the president

| Just when you think it can't get any weirder, it gets weirder. We have just been treated to another fine example of cable "news" networks' consummate ability to trivialize and hype. Our drama unfolds in five acts, like all good Shakespeare comedies.  more

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It's all about the handicap

| The Fun Handicap League ended league play on Monday night, and the final standings have been posted: Strikes 2 Spare finished in 4th place out of 28 teams.  more

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Stargazing in Joshua Tree

| We selected last Saturday for another excursion to Joshua Tree National Park for a little hiking, a little eating and drinking, and a little stargazing. Bob was getting ready for a trip, and Phil wanted to go to another stargazing event organized by an astronomy club, so it was Ken, Réal, Don, and myself who comprised the Usual Suspects.  more

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Pull the plug

| The US healthcare system is on life support, kept alive only by extraordinary measures paid for by you and me to the benefit of entrenched profit-driven interests, namely the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, abetted by for-profit hospitals and by politicians in the pocket of those interests. As a nation, we pay more for our healthcare, per capita, than any other nation on earth but the people in several other countries live longer and have lower rates of infant mortality and cancer. In short, we're not getting our money's worth!  more

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San Diego Rodeo 2009

| On Saturday, Réal, Ken, and I went to San Diego for the rodeo. It was a beautiful day there, perhaps in the low 80s — of course everyone there thought it was hot! What do they know? Nevertheless, we did appreciate the awnings they had erected over the grandstand for the first time this year.  more

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Brrr! It's cold outside

| Fall is definitely here. It's true enough that there are many days in September when the temperatures in Palm Springs are as high as those in August, but the arrival of fall shows itself as soon as the sun goes down. The desert starts to cool almost as soon as the last ray of sun fades, and by morning it can be downright chilly.  more

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Fun at the fair Pomona fair 2009

| On the way to the LA County Fair on Wednesday, "Senior day," Réal, Bob, Phil, and I reminisced about fairs past, which mainly focused on fair food.  more

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The unQuicken one-step

| For just over a month, Microsoft Money has been popping up an extremely annoying pop-up warning that "Your online services will expire in ... days" and providing two choices: "Extend online services" or "Remind me later." Note, "Stop bothering me" was not one of the choices. Also note, clicking on "Extend online services" led to a helpful page on Microsoft's website that said, "Sorry, you are S-O-L — we're not doing that any more." Well, not those words, exactly, but you get the idea.  more

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Member of the class

| Considering that I'm a peaceful individual, unwont to engage in frivolous conflict, I have ended up in an astonishing number of class-action lawsuits.  more

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Apple country

| It's harvest time in Oak Glen, so the usual suspects headed up into the mountains yesterday to enjoy the scenery and the scene. And what a scene it was!  more

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I'm calling to cancel

| A couple of years ago I got a Gottschalks credit card. I had gone in to buy some shirts, and they would give me a big, big discount if I would just sign up for the Gottschalks credit card. I needed another credit card like another hole in the head, but a big discount is a big discount. It turned out to be a good thing, actually, because they were forever having "secret sales" and other promotions for card holders, and I enjoyed getting lots of discounts.  more

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Phishing season

| A new phishing season has definitely opened on the internet. In the past few days my inbox has filled up with an amazing array of obvious ploys to engage me in self-destructive computer behavior.  more

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Bob's birthday

| The anniversary of Bob's birth was officially back in June, but events conspired, and we just got around to a proper celebration.  more

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Technology meltdown

| If Goethe had really wanted to put Faust in a bind, he would have given him a computer. There are few things so seductive as the power of modern technology, and nothing more certain to make your life miserable.  more

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The sky is not falling

| Republicans are unanimously convinced that "Obamanomics is a failure" and they trumpet that talking point at every opportunity. The same people who in January and February wrung their hands and gnashed their teeth about the economic stimulus package, decrying the deficits it required, and calling it "The Generational Theft Act of 2009" (michellemalkin.com). Now those same Chicken Littles (I can actually think of a better two-word term that begins with "chicken") are complaining that there aren't enough jobs being created, "and it's all Obama's fault."  more

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Palm Springs Pride 2009

| The annual Pride festival and parade were this past weekend, and the usual suspects made a day of it.  more

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Fly by night

| 3:40am — well before the crack of stupid. Ring-ring. Ring-ring. Ring-ring. Rise and shine! Rise and shine!  more

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On the Bourbon Trail

| Back in 2002 when I signed up to be an Ambassador for Maker's Mark, I was mocked for falling into a marketing campaign.  more

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Thanksgiving 2009

| Thanksgiving Day dawned brisk and clear, but by the time of the great satiation, it was 80°F, the kind of day that calls irresistibly for a smug, "Eat your heart out, northland." Thanksgiving is not traditionally known as a day of giggles and guffaws, but but this one was a bonanza of belly laughs.  more

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End of an era

| The webcam era Chez Paul has come to a quiet close. The Veo XT has stopped responding — it is simply brain dead, I guess.  more

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Time flies

| It seems like only yesterday was November. But wait, yesterday was November. Oh well, the months are just zipping by.  more

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Have mercy!

| It's all relative, and right now it's relatively cold! Overnight it was a mere 43°F and the next two nights are predicted to drop below freezing.  more

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Light parade 2009

| Last night was thte annual Festival of Lights Parade along Palm Canyon Drive. The appropriate adjective for the parade was cold.  more

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Visit to Maker's Mark — the video

| In November, I went to the Maker's Mark distillery in Kentucky to celebrate the bottling of my Ambassadorial barrel and — importantly — get bottles from the batch containing my barrel and personally dip them in the distinctive red wax. I was accompanied by Jim and Angela and Bob and Carolyn, dedicated drinkers in their own right. Bob and Jim acted as official videographers, and Bob produced this documentary:  more

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Contempt and loathing

| I have just sent the following message to Senators Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein.  more

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Christmas fruitcake

| The Christmas fruitcake has fallen into disfavor and ill-repute among many, except as an annual joke. Johnny Carson used to say that there was only one fruitcake in the world, just passed around from year to year. And, like Brussels sprouts, it may be an acquired taste.  more

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Christmas Chez Phil

| We ate Christmas at Phil's this year. Having survived his first encounter with "the bird" last year, he was eager to do it all again — and we were only to happy to let him.  more

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