Monday, October 27, 2008

Betland Non-Olympic Update

Greetings, friends. No acrochallenge tonight. Sorry.

My mom, aka Granny, is back in the hospital. She was taken there on Thursday after becoming very ill, and spent from Thursday until today in CCU. She's in a private room now.

It's a long story, but she has another blood infection, plus a blood clot in her leg. She's being treated with medication. She was put into CCU because her blood pressure dropped dangerously low.

It's been a very busy time, working, hospitaling, and helping take care of my dad. My sister and I are splitting visiting times and Dad Duties. Add the worry of Mom being sick to that, and you have a tired Bet.

I'll keep you posted, and though I keep promising this and it keeps not happening, things will return to normal at Betland one day soon.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Political Ponderings, Including Why Sarah Palin Scares the Bejeesus Out of Me

Hello, voters. It's been a long day. It's been a long week. And it's been a long campaign period. Time for me to do another "preaching to the choir" blog.

Joe the Plumber:

I'm sick of Joe the Plumber. I was sick of him the night he appeared in name and story at the debate, I was more sick of him when the media found him and decided to tell us his life story, and at this point, I'm so sick of him I wish he'd pack up his plunger and move to Albania. I'm especially sick of the fact that John McCain, who, let's face it, has tried everything else, has now made everything about Joe the Plumber.

Here's my take on the whole J the P situation. I recently saw on television the whole Joe/Obama exchange. And to be perfectly honest, I thought Obama was in fine form. He was extremely honest. He looked Joe P right in the eye and said, "Listen, if you start making over $250,000, you're going to be taxed. You'll be taxed on the amount from $250,000 to what you actually make at the new tax rate, but yes, you'll have a higher tax rate."

For someone running for President, that's a pretty bold move. How easy would it have been for him to shake Joe's hand, hand him some political mumbo-jumbo inferring that he'd be safe in this new tax idea, flash a smile, and get the hell outta there. In fact, Obama told Mr Plumber, "I don't know if I'll get your vote now." I can't help but think had someone come up and asked McCain a difficult question, McCain would have shaken his hand and started shoveling the shit.

And as far as that dreaded phrase "spread the wealth?" Isn't that what taxes are? You make it, you pay it. It's not socialism. It's income tax. Get over it.

Get Your Stubby Fucking Fingers Out of My Face:

When exactly did John McCain decide that he needed to air quote every other word out of his mouth? I honestly didn't notice him even doing it until the last debate, when he did it enough times for me to want to break his arthritic little fingers. Had I only known.

Since then, the man can't say his own name without air quoting it. It's gotten way out of control, as if he's just learned how to do it and thinks it's the coolest thing since the peace sign. I saw a clip of him in a diner surrounded by his ever-present "Joe the Plumbers" (you know, Andrea the Teacher, Doug the Driver, Curtis the Guy His Party Hired to Stand There Looking Concerned), and every other fucking word he said was air quoted!

I'm waiting for him to say, "And you should 'vote' for 'me,' because I'm the 'better man' for the 'job.'" Actually I'm waiting for him to get both hands slammed in a limo door so he can't do it anymore.

And now...

Why Sarah Palin Scares the Bejeesus Out of Me

Let's face it, there's a lot to hate about Sarah Palin. Like, oh, where she stands on any given issue. Or how she has a set of index cards with pre-written answers on them which she throws back at any question, whether it matches or not.

But right now, Sarah Palin just scares me. Scares me shitless, and I'm terrified that something's going to happen between now and November 4 that will send her and her air quoting bastard of a running mate straight to the White House. And here's why I'm scared.

Let's see, what have we got. We have Troopergate. We have Clothinggate. We have I Don't Know What The Vice Presiden't Job Isgate. We have Alaska Pays For My Kids To Travelgate. We have I Charged Alaska Money For Nights I Slept In My Own Housegate. We have I Wouldn't Answer Questions Asked of Me and Said I Wanted To Expand The Role of the VP at the Debategate.

When I add all these together, what she did and those she chooses to address, here's what I come up with. Palin's doing some really shitty stuff, and I'm not so sure she realizes it's shitty. Because she thinks she's entitled to do all these things. She thinks it's part of the perks of being the Governor of a state no one cares about, and if you don't think it is, you're wrong.

She's the governor - of course that gives her the right to fire the top guy over the state troopers who wouldn't kick her ex-brother-in-law off the force. He should have done what she wanted! She's the governor - of course that gives her the right to take her kids to any event she attends, at the state's expense, even if she has to fudge a little and say they were there in an "official capacity." (Sorry about the air quote.)

When she was found guilty of not legal wrongdoing but ethical wrongdoing in the whole Troopergate debacle, she immediately went out and issued a statement saying how happy she was that she was found innocent of any unlawful or unethical activities. She refuses to accept anything she doesn't want to! She lives in her own mind! And the fact that at least one reporter, somewhere on the tarmac or sitting across a chair from her, didn't get right in her face and show her the decree, stick it right in her face and say, "See? They said you were an unethical so and so!" really pisses me off. Because I'd love to see if, with the statement in her face, she'd still refuse to believe it.

And so she thinks the job of the Vice President is to be in charge of the Senate. To, as she puts it, "If they want to, get in there with the Senators and make laws." Or does she? If she does, why would she have made that debate statement about wanting an expansion of the duties of Vice President? I think she thinks if she says it, out loud and on television, then it will be so, and if this woman gets into office, I can only imagine what's ahead for us. Forced prayer in school, federal ban on gay marriage or civil union, a woman's right to choose out the window, and frankly, I wouldn't be surprised to see her put a magic tablet in McCain's Ovaltine that sends him away so she can be President. Let's face it, it wouldn't have to be a very big tablet to send him over the edge.

Pat Buchanan, craphead that he is, appeared on my new girlfriend Rachel Maddow's show last night and said the press is going after Palin because "she's pretty." He said she'd given the Republicans this huge bounce after the convention, and what has her so down in the polls now is the financial world went blooey. And I hate to tell Pat, actually, I love to, but she was heading down the dumper before the world's finances were. And it all started when she opened her mouth and showed us all what a fucking pea-brain she is.

And folks, a pea-brain with that much self-importance and ambition is a scary, scary thing.

Oh, and someone in one of the forums I was reading today said she reminded them exactly of Peggy Hill from "King of the Hill." I wish I'd have thought of that.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Vote blue. Vote change. Vote Barack. Please.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Samuel, We Hardly Knew Ye. In Fact, We Knew Ye Not At All.

Last night I was closing up shop to go to bed. The podcast was in the can, and Stennie and I had had our "hanging around" time afterwards to chat some more and play games. (Games last night? Freecell for me, Mahjong, Freecell, and Solitaire for Stennie. She was all over the place.)

Anyway, we'd said our goodbyes and I was closing out windows and unhooking the little heater under my desk, and I got a boing from Mr M. We too had said our goodbyes earlier, but here he was messaging me. His message was a link. I followed it just to see what it was, but when I read the headline I stayed there in my closed-up shop and continued.

Here was the story.

On October 1st I wrote a blog about something that was of keen interest to me, something I just couldn't understand, well, why it wasn't of keen interest to everyone.

Back during the first weekend of Oktoberfest, while I was right up there on the mountain at Mountain Lake, or Mountain Lakeless as it is now, a man and his son were walking around the mud that used to be Mountain Lake and they found something. They found a human skeleton. Surrounding the skeleton were items that appeared to be personal items: clothing, a belt buckle, a cigarette lighter, a shoe, and a class ring. Authorities were dispatched, and it became clear that here was a man, well, an ex-man, a long passed man, who'd been lying around under Mountain Lake for possibly 50 years. And would still be lying around had the lake not mysteriously disappeared this year.

At the time I wrote the blog, the news story was definitely back-page stuff. There may have been a passing interest by local residents - "Hey, they found a man in the lake" - but that was about it, and I was confused and a little peeved that everyone everywhere wasn't just chomping at the bit to find out all about Mr Man Who Went Up A Mountain And Never Came Down.

According to this story linked to me by Mr M, I seemed to not be alone in my yearning for answers. And may I just say, "Thank you, Jim and John Dalmas."

Yes, the Dalmas brothers were as interested as I was, and, unlike me, had the gumption to get off their butts and do something about it. And they started piecing together clues as to Mr MWWUAMANCD.

For those of you who didn't follow the above link, which interested me greatly, but you know, I'm me, the Giles County Sheriff's office started with the class ring. It was a Clemson ring, class of 1904. They got a roster of 1904's graduating class.

Now, the initials on the belt buckle and cigarette case were S.F. And the Dalmas brothers started to research. There were three members of Clemson's Class of '04 with the initials S.F. One of those was a man named Samuel Ira Felder.

In going through Census records, the Dalmas fellows found mention of Felder and his wife, Catherine, in 1920. In 1930 Census records, there was Catherine Felder, widow.

Then, while searching for relatives of Felder, John Dalmas found this little nugget. A South Carolina newspaper article from 1927 about one S.I. Felder, who was boating with his family and fell into a lake. And drowned.

After finding that article, July 27, 1927, the brothers Dalmas headed local, and found an article from the Roanoke (VA) Times headlined, "Mountain Lake Holds Body In Its Grasp." The story was about Samuel I Felder, who was boating on Mountain Lake with his family, fell overboard, and whose body was not recovered.

According to the Roanoke article, Felder fell from the boat's bow into the lake. "He seemed to choke and struggle for a minute, then was engulfed by moonlit waves." After unsuccessful tries to recover the body, Samuel Felder in 1929 was officially declared dead.

The Sheriff's office is not officially closing the case and putting Felder's name to Mr Man Who Went Up A Mountain And Never Came Down, but the Dalmas brothers are certain they've solved the mystery.

I am too.

And so to you, Samuel "Mr Man Who Went Up A Mountain And Never Came Down" Felder, I say rest in peace. You've been under Mountain Lake for 61 years, and I've thought about you a lot over the last month. I think about you every time I head up the mountain and pass by what used to be the lake. You had nice items surrounding you, a silver cigarette case and belt buckle, your class ring, and a shoe made in New York City. You were a dapper vacationer up there on the mountain in Virginia. Had you been of a different time you might have been up in the barn Oktoberfesting with us.

But you weren't. You were born in 1884. You graduated from Clemson and worked for the telephone company. And judging from your yearbook picture, you were a fine-looking young man.

And quoting that yearbook entry:

"Si" came into existence on May 10, 1884, at Vance, SC. His early education was received at Camden Road Academy. He came to Clemson in September, 1900, to engage in the struggle for a "Sheepskin." He tips the scales at 148 lbs and measures 5 ft, 11 in. He took Electrical Course. The highest military office to which Si aspired was Sgt in the famous old "D" Company of 1903. Was secretary of Calhoun Society, and member of the German Club and Salons de Cercle.

Awww, he was in the German Club. And guess what, I checked Clemson's website. This is a club devoted to German language and culture, and not a part of the same German Club at Virginia Tech who threw the Sauerkraut Band out of their party after they invited us to come and play it.

So that's why I felt such a kinship with you, Mr Felder, even before I knew who you were! I shall hoist a shot for you on the mountain this Friday.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners! So, tell me about your political platform.
- Runner-Up goes to Kellie (with an ie), with her plan to keep the citizens happy, "Quick Harmonious Melodies Over Network Earphones."
- And this week's winner is DeepFatFriar, with his "Quality home made operas. No elitism." I'll vote for that. If there's one thing I hate, it's opera elitism.
- Thanks to all who played, you've all done very well!


Monday, October 20, 2008


Hello, lovers of letters, and welcome to another try at acromania. Let's see if we can get anyone to play this week.

It's all about the campaign this week. You're running for president! And I'm not going to vote for you. I'm not because I don't know what your campaign platform is. You need my vote to take this country by storm, so by gum, you'd better come up with something good.

This week's acrotopic: "My Political Platform."

All the rules are the same. Everyone gets three entries to come up with the best acronym they can, one that not only matches the topic above, but also the letters below. The letters are randomly drawn from the acrobasket. The acrobasket promises a, yes, you guessed it, a letter in every basket. Then tomorrow night at 10:00 est I shall be reading the entries (if there are any) and naming the winners.

The acrotopic? "My Political Platform." The letters:


Wow, the elusive Q. Now start stumping and acro.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Contrary to popular belief, I do still have a blog. I sure don't write much, but it's still here. On the up side, my Annual Nervous Breakdown seems to have kept at bay this year. You know, it normally shows up right about this time, right in the thick of Oktoberfest. I'm skipping a lot of Community Band stuff, maybe that's kept the little diaper-wearing bastard (photo: Oct 9, 2007 blog) away.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Well, I guess I'm off the hook for blogging or acrojudging tonight, seeing as how no one wants to acro this week. It's OK, less work for me.

However, I promised you a picture tonight, and so a picture you shall have, courtesy of my best buddy Mr M.

When I arrived at his house Saturday night, he rushed to show me a picture. He said it was taken back during the late 60s, when Sherman and Peabody visited the movie set of "The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter," starring no less a person than Alan Arkin himself. Apparently they were in the area and stopped by to say howdy.

A nice shot, huh?

That's all!

Betland's Olympic Update:
* No, Betland's Election Update. I'm happy to report that on the Big Electoral Map (BEM), the heretofore totally white Missouri is now reporting blue. However, not so happy - nor proud - to report that the formerly blue Virginia has now just gone blue around the edges.


Monday, October 13, 2008


Hello, lovers of letters, and welcome to another scintillating round of acromania.

Topics, topics. OK, here's one out of nowhere. This week's acrotopic - "Hooray for Hollywood." That should cover a wide range of ideas.

All the rules are the same. Everyone gets three entries to come up with the best acronym they can that not only matches the topic above, but also the letters below. The letters are randomly drawn from the acrobasket. The acrobasket does not give autographs, so do not ask. Then tomorrow night at 10:00 est I shall be reading the entries and naming the winners.

This week's topic? "Hooray for Hollywood." The letters:


So lights, camera, acro!

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Oh speaking of Hollywood, I have a great picture for you in tomorrow night's blog. Stay tuned!


Thursday, October 09, 2008

Triumph Of The Will They Ever Say It To His Face

Stennie and I occasionally have small discussions on the Hucklebug podcast concerning hate. We do our weekly "fuck off" section, which of course always begins with George Bush, and has now become quickly followed by John McCain and Sarah Palin.

Stennie is careful to say that her mother told her she should never hate anyone, so she doesn't, but she intensely dislikes those three people.

My mom probably told me the same thing at some point, and I wish I could be so lofty.

I have, in fact, been guilty of hating someone from time to time, but it's generally fleeting. But I'm finding it hard to compare at this moment the hate I have for the McCain-Palin ticket.

It used to just be their side. I hated their side. It's not really like that anymore, though, and I may as well go ahead and admit it. I hate John McCain and I hate Sarah Palin. I'm not sure which I hate more. In the beginning it was her, but now he's just as bad.

Anyone who reads a paper or watches TV or checks the internet knows what's going on right now. The McCain ticket is losing its collective ass in the polls, and so anything having to do with the issues of the election have gone straight into the shitcan. Well, the issues have gone into the dumpster. The candidates themselves have gone straight into the shitcan.

Sure, at their rallies - which, if you've seen "Triumph of the Will" should start looking vaguely familiar to you - they might touch on "this horrible economy" or "my son's in the war," but those are now the condiments. The main dish is that Barack Obama is a bad man, a foreigner, a Muslim radical, and a terrorist sympathizer.

The Republicans are getting local citizens to introduce them, citizens who seem to love throwing "Hussein" into the mix when speaking of Obama. Then the candidates themselves come out and start raising the questions. "Who is Barack Obama?" Who is this man who pals around with William Ayers, former Chicago radical?

If you've seen clips of these hoedowns, you may have seen the results when the question is asked. From the partisan crowd you hear shouts. They have included, but are not necessarily limited to, "Terrorist!" "Kill Him!" "Treason!" and the ever-popular "Off With His Head!"

Now, let's take the soft side of this. Let's pretend that McCain-Palin didn't incite this crap and have no control of what some follower at their rally says. They did, of course, but let's pretend for a second.

If they were even acting as if they cared, wouldn't one of them say, "Now, wait a minute," or "Let's not go that far," or "Please, Secret Service, there's a man there yelling, 'Kill him?'" But they don't. They just stand there and smile and let the hate reach fever pitch before they go on with their spiels.

And I can't believe that as much as that's happened someone hasn't found that famous clip of Mussolini on the balcony mugging, arms folded, and split-screened it with either Palin or McCain, just for shits and giggles.

But it's not really about shits and giggles. It's about hate, plain and simple, and I'm a little past getting tired of it and on my way to getting scared.

When Obama was on his way to winning the nomination I mentioned my biggest fear. That no matter what someone said, to friends, to pollsters, when that golden moment came when alone in the booth, he or she couldn't bring themselves to vote for a black man. That's starting to be discussed a little in the new outlets now; I've been thinking it for some three months.

Now that's only one of my fears. The other has to do with these fired-up yahoos at McCain rallies, and what other fired-up yahoo might hear their shouts of "Kill Him!" on TV, and what could happen next. My friend Brenda, who is black and in her 50s, who was around long enough to have this be an epic election in her life, confided this recently. "I'm afraid the better he does in the polls, the less likely he'll be here on election day." She was around in 1968. She remembers.

I kind of started this blog for a completely different reason. it just turned into to what's above because I spent an afternoon off watching a lot of this awful footage (Cindy McCain now practically in tears because Obama voted against a bill funding her son in the war, although Cindy didn't mention her very husband did the same thing). What I started the blog for was to bring your attention to a news story I caught last night on television, and did some investigation on.

Here is the story.

For those who don't want to take the link, I'll give a Reader's Digest version of the story.

Apparently some toothless gee-gaw named Bobby May wrote a long editorial about what would happen if Obama became president. The list included:

* Hiring rapper Ludacris to paint the White House black, then providing extra paint for graffiti.
* Replacing the stars on the American flag with one star and cresent.
* Mandatory Black Liberation Theology courses taught in all churches.
* Changing the National Anthem to "The Black National Anthem."
* Putting pictures of Oprah Winfrey, Ludacris (again with the Ludacris), and Shelia Jackson-Lee on US currency. Naming 50-Cent Secretary of Treasury.

It goes on much more, and gets just as hateful, and I would say this man is going to burn in hell, except for one fact. He's already there.

Turns out, and the reason this story really caught my attention, Mr Bobby May lives in Buchanan County, VA. In fact, and you'll love this, he is the treasurer of the Buchanan County Republican Party. Or was, until someone finally went national with this little tome (thanks, LA Times), and the party was forced to can him. The party claimed they had no knowledge of this until it was brought to their attention, which either makes them tremdous liars or tremendously stupid about what goes on in their own party.

Buchanan County is frighteningly close to me, so I can tell you a little about the place. I've been there many times. It's coal-mine country. It's an armpit of a place. It's comprised of the sickeningly rich and the unbelievably poor. Mansions sit beside shacks, and who has the biggest Cadillac means nothing. It's all about who has a helicopter and a helicopter pad near their home, and how many tarpaper roofs they can blow off a shack as their helicopter whizzes to the Country Club.

There's one thing Buchanan County is not comprised of, though. Black people. There are none. In fact, when I was in high school, it was one of those things that was a joke, but not really a joke. We'd play high school football there, and as the band bus or the football bus would wind around the two-lane roads, we'd joke with our black band- and team-mates about how we'd make sure there were two white people around every black person, just so we'd have the same amount of people on the bus going home as we did heading out to the game. Then we'd laugh, but it was a pretty sickly laugh.

So I guess it should be no surprise to me that this hateful load of horseshit should come out of Buchanan County. Where the racism is not hidden, not unspoken, it's right out there in the open. Still, I was surprised, maybe because someone discovered it and brought it to the country's attention.

Which brings me back to why, besides their shitty policies (I get $2500 a year for health care? Healthcare for me would be approximately $7000), I hate John McCain and Sarah Palin so much. They don't give a shit how they win the election. They're courting the votes of racists, neo-Nazis, toothless hillbillies, hate-mongers, and ignoramuses. Ignorami? Whatever.

And has no one even taken the time to realize that a ticket that's so damn sneaky that they're playing on ingorance to cheat their way to an election is not going to get any better once they're in office? Haven't we already seen eight years of lying and cheating?

As of today, McCain told a supporter that he will bring all these "character questions" to light at the next debate. I'll be interested to see. For a man who, as yet, has not been able to look his opponent in the eye, I want to see what it looks like when he turns his back and starts bringing up this shit. Or will he just do what he's done thus far. Point and say "that one."

Please don't let these assholes into the White House. Please. I know I'm probably preaching to the choir here, but please. I'm begging.

Betland's Olympic Upate:
* Please. I mean it.
* And by hating McCain and Palin so much, am I as bad? Hey, I said I wasn't so lofty.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I Didn't Lie, I Just Asked

Hello, blogees. As you may or may not know, and if you don't I don't know what planet you went to on vacation, we are smack-dab in the middle of an economic crisis.

Yes, a scant month or so ago it was business as usual. The rich were getting richer, the poor were getting poorer, and people like me in the middle were staying right where they were. Then Fannie and Freddie took a dive, big banks went bust, and it was mass hysteria.

The last time I can remember anything remotely like this happening was back in 1987. That was the New Black Monday, the day the stock market took a nosedive and everyone on Wall Street was climbing on the window ledge while The Powers That Be were predicting the Next Great Depression. It didn't really have an effect on me.

See, these things never have an effect on me. 1987 didn't, good and bad times have come and gone, nationally and regionally, and I've still stayed right in the middle where I've always been. I've seen my way through a dozen coal miners' strikes and the railroad leaving town. I have job security, and I've collected my paycheck, banked it away, bought groceries and a few extras, and there you go. It's been my life.

Until now.

And let me state right off the bat that I know I'm luckier than most. I say that often when I'm talking finances. I have a roof over my head, food to eat, and a car to drive. I can pay for cable and internet, and my lights are on, and my water runs. What's more, I have the ultimate golden security blanket. Two parents who'd rather take a railroad spike to the head than to see me go without the necessities. So, yeah, I'm lucky.

However, for the first time in a long time, I'm having a little bit of a budget crunch. Sure, I've had temporary setbacks, phases of poverty where I have to learn to eat creatively and save change, "adventure living," I call it, but I've never had to sit down with a stack of bills and figure out which ones I can pay and which ones I can't.

And thank God I'm not at that point now. Yet.

I've been feeling this little crunch for a couple of months, ever since I decided I didn't like the suddenly overblown balance on my credit card and made a gargantuan payment to it. Which still didn't pay it down to the point I wanted it, but it helped, and I knew I'd have to scrimp a little till I built myself back up, but I never seemed to start building again.

I often say that I don't have a lot in life, but by God, I have an excellent credit rating, due to the fact that I pay all my bills on time and in full. After grabbing my paycheck away from the boss's hand, I spend no money till I've banked it and paid bills. And the first of this month was no exception, well, so I thought, but in the span of about three days my finances went blooey and I was convinced I was going stark raving flatass nuts.

It started with my water and sewage bills. When bill-paying time came, I couldn't find them. I looked through the bill folder over and over, around my house, around my desk at work, and they were nowhere to be found. I paid all my other bills then decided that the next morning I'd call each place, get the amounts, and stop looking for the actual bills. The next day was very busy at work, so I didn't get a chance. I said, "This gives me one more chance to scour the house before I call tomorrow."

I did just that, came home and looked under every book, magazine, and stray piece of music, and I found neither bill. However, I did find, under a Netflix movie I've yet to watch, a bill for my home water cooler rent. It was from September. I'd set it under that movie, and while the movie remained unwatched, the bill remained unpaid. I cursed and put it in plain view where I'd remember to take it to work the next morning. That now made three bills instead of two I was still owing.

I sat down in the Comfy Chair later that night to watch Keith Olbermann and was off in thought somewhere when all of a sudden something shot into my mind, I don't know how it came to me so plainly all of a sudden but it did, and that thought was, "Holy shit. I didn't make a credit card payment, either." So now along with water, sewer, and the already late water cooler rent, I had my credit card payment to make. And my checkbook balance was already woefully low.

(I do know why I hadn't made that payment, btw. Because I always leave it till last. Pay the finite bills, then take what I have left over to load onto the credit card payment. Since I hadn't paid the water or sewer, I hadn't written the credit card.)

A bit of good luck wafted my way when I realized the next day that maybe I wasn't stark raving flatass nuts after all. In doing a little more investigating I realized the sewer bill came early, and for some reason I just went ahead and paid it when it came. So it was out of the way. The water bill had changed from a little card to a long piece of paper, so the unopened envelope I thought was some greeting from the town was actually my water bill, and I hadn't lost it, either. I paid it, the overdue water cooler rent, then made a hefty but not as hefty as usual payment on the credit card, and now my spending for the next two weeks was done.

I know this isn't the least bit interesting, reading back over it it's not that interesting to me either, but in all that I realized that I'm living at about a constant $250 less than I used to. To some, that may not seem like much, but it is to me. And it's because gas and groceries have skyrocketed, and I'm getting paid the same thing.

And all that is kind of an introduction to the next part of this little rant-rave. I did something this week that in my younger and more timid days I wouldn't have done on a bet.

It started last week when two people, both clients at work, told me the same thing. "You need to call the cable company." Apparently they both called threatening to take their business to the Dish People, and out of nowhere Comcast started slashing their rates left and right. I pay about $130 for cable and internet, and I sure wouldn't mind a little slashing.

And still, I spent last week not calling. You know me. "I'll be the one to call and they'll say, 'Pay or not, we don't care,'" I told myself. Then yesterday I took a little look in my checkbook and said, "Oh hell, why not. I'll be on the phone, I won't have to face anyone, if they tell me to piss off I'll say OK and hang up."

And so I called. I told myself I wasn't going to lie and say I was going elsewhere, because I wasn't. I just wanted cheaper rates like other people were getting, and I'd ask how that happened. I got a really nice young-sounding girl on the line and told her just that. And she said, "Well, let's see if you can get any specials." Specials? The cable company has sales?

She was gone a while, and came back saying that yes, she couldn't see where I'd ever applied for a special, so here's what she could do. Cut my cable bill in half for six months, along with giving me free Showtime and Starz, two premium channels I don't subscribe to. Then for three months she'd give me free internet. Would that be OK?

I said it certainly would, and so she went away and punched some buttons and said it was done, thanks very much.

So for three months my cable bill will be about half what it normally is, and for three more it'll still be about $40 less.

And so I'm very happy about that, but you know me, I'd complain if they hung me with a new rope, and so I have to ask the question. Not to her, I wouldn't look that gift horse in the mouth, but to you.

If they could do that when I called, why couldn't they do it anyway?

I mean, why should the timid, or those uninformed about their secret specials pay full price when they could be getting their fares slashed?

I see that a lot where I work. Someone will come in for a proposal, we'll work one up for them, they'll like it, and then in a week come back and say that when they showed it to their current company, that company suddenly lowered the price 100 or so dollars. To which my question is always what I just asked above. If they could lower it that much now, why didn't they when you were a loyal customer? That's one thing I can say for TheCompanyIWorkFor, our rates are what the are and they're set in stone, which also means we're giving the lowest ones right off the bat to everyone who asks.

I've heard of credit card companies doing the same thing. And have even heard "shopping experts" saying on television that consumers should do it in stores. "I like this blouse. Can you take five dollars off?" Well, I'd just die if I had to do that, but apparently people do, and apparently it works. And I guess it works because enough lilies like me just go in and pay full price right off the bat.

If I want to haggle, I'll go to a yard sale.

Anyway, if you're reading this and you are a cog of the wheel that is Comcast Cable or Internet, call the number on your bill and ask to be slashed. If they did it for me, they will for you. And all because we were lucky enough to know about the secret special.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners! So, it happened at the hospital. What did?
- Honorable Mention goes to QTOATIP, with her "Gross, ugly nurses taunt you."
- Runner-Up goes to LilyG, with her, "Got undressed, needed treatment. Yuck."
- And this week's winner is, yes, he had inside information, the DeepFatFriar, with his "Going utterly nuts, thank you."


Monday, October 06, 2008


Hello, letter lovers everywhere. Welcome to another round of acromania.

I'd like you all get ready to give a little shout-out to one of your own. Yes, the very DeepFatFriar, is in the hospital this week. He's doing much better today, but has been in intensive care after being diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism. He spent until yesterday in ICU, then was moved out and is now being (I'm sure) a model patient on the floor.

So keep getting better, DFF, and get out of there soon. And in honor of you, this week's acrotopic: "It Happened At The Hospital."

All the other rules are the same. Everyone gets three entries to come up with the best acronym they can that matches not only the topic above, but also the letters below. The letters below are randomly drawn from the acrobasket. The acrobasket isn't a doctor, but he played one on TV once. An old episode of "Wicker Theatre." Then tomorrow night at 10:00 est I shall be reading the entries and naming the winners.

So the topic, "It Happened At The Hospital." The letters:


There. Now adjust your IV and acro.


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Dead Men Dance No Polkas, or CSI: Giles County

I'm here tonight to tell you an interesting story, a story that, if I had anything to do with it, you'd already know.

We in the Sauerkraut Band are gearing up for the full-swing edition of Oktoberfest at Mountain Lake. For two weekends in September we play on Saturday nights, then in October (or is it Oktober) we go hog wild and pig crazy and play on Fridays and Saturdays.

Mountain Lake is a resort, a resort that's, and I know you'll find this hard to believe, on top of a mountain with a lake in it.

Yes, you go up, up, up, winding around till you're sure you'll puke, and you finally get to the top of the mountain. And right there at the top of that mountain is a lake. There's a gazebo overlooking the lake, some nice grounds, a giant chess set, some cabins, a barn (yes, Sauerkraut Band plays in the barn, which is more appropriate than you'll ever know), and the big main building of the resort. For those of you who've seen the movie "Dirty Dancing" (and it's OK, you don't have to admit to it, I wouldn't), you'll see lots of Mountain Lake because a lot of the movie was filmed there.

However, there's been a problem with Mountain Lake Resort over the past decade or so. The lake's been - well, it's been shrinking.

It's the talk of the Oktoberfest crowd, how every year we get up there and every year Mountain Lake is more and more mountain and less and less lake. There's apparently been quite the scientific experimenting and speculating, is it global warming, is it something in the earth's atmosphere, is it the drying of some secret spring feeding the lake, but no one really knows.

Saturday before last was our first night of revelry, and we all got there a bit early to find that, well, that there is no lake at Mountain Lake anymore. It's completely gone, replaced by a large expanse of mud, and we don't know if they're planning to change the resort's name to Mountain Mud or Mountain Lakeless, but that gazebo now looks out onto nothing much in particular.

The band put the finishing touches on microphones, wires, decorations, and the like, we hung out, got to know each other again after a year, and prepared to play. We had a small crowd that night but they were a good crowd, and they seemed to enjoy the evening.

I came home and prepared to forget about it till the next Saturday.

But two days later the band received an email from our fearless leader Ed, with some news about upcoming performances and the like. The last paragraph went, and I quote, like this:

For those of you who haven't heard, a corpse was found in the dry lake bed at Mt. Lake on Saturday. The county sheriff came on Sunday and verified that the remains were human. It is believed that the body dates back to the 1920s and officials are working to identify the remains. Follow the link below to the news story from WDBJ 7.

And so I followed the link, because, really, that's something you just want to read more about.

Apparently a man and his son wondered what it would be like to mill around in an ex-lake and did just that, and they found what used to be a human being. His skeleton was there, as were clothes and personal items, a ring, a cigarette lighter with initials, and some coins. According to the article, the police are suspecting either a drowning or foul play, but that's about all they can say. After nearly 90 years, they don't have a lot to go on as far as who this poor unfortunate may be.

But every year he's been there, dead as Sarah Palin's brain, beneath the lake, while we've been playing music and dancing around and drinking shots of Jagermeister up on the mountain. He's been there while Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey wooed each other in the movies. He's been there for countless weddings, wine tastings, beer festivals, and summer holidays.

And that just really intrigues me.

And it intrigues me even more that this discovery was going on while I was up there.

But what intrigues me the most is that since that day I read about The Man Who Went Up A Mountain And Never Came Down, I've heard nary a thing more about it. Well, I guess nary implies "nothing." I've read one more story on the subject, about a professor from Radford University who's looking at the items to see if she can unravel the mystery.

Maybe it's just me, but if I ran Mountain Lake I'd be going crazy on this one.

I'd have the national news up there. I'd want everyone to know about it. I'd let forensic scientists from everywhere head up the mountain and look around, see the remains, look at the personal items. I'd have historians in dusty rooms of police archives, checking missing persons reports.

And that's because the story interests me so much I can't wait to find out the tale of the victim. Who he was, how he got there, if anyone tried to find him when he went missing. For some reason I feel like this fellow is my fellow, he's been up on the mountain with me all those times I've been there. I feel responsible for him, and I feel like the world needs to work on finding out about him.

But that's me. See, I'm a kind and tender-hearted person. The people who own and run Mountain Lake, I can't believe they're not doing all of the above for other reasons.

See, Mountain Lake is what is known in the business as a white elephant. A dinosaur. It's a dying resort, people. It's barely hanging on financially, and other than Oktoberfest, weddings, and private parties, has minimal business at best.

With a 90 year old corpse found in what used to be their lake, wouldn't you think they'd also want everyone to know about it? Have all those people coming to investigate, and staying in their hotel, eating their food, writing nationally published articles about the Mystery Ex-Lake Dweller Dead Guy? Wouldn't they want "CSI: Wherever" to pinch the story for one of their episodes, or even have a second movie filmed up at Mountain Lake, "Dirty Dancing on the Remains of a Dead Guy?"

I mean, there's a Legend of Mountain Lake just waiting to be born!

OK, so that's really crass, and it makes me think of the last half of "Ace in the Hole," where they set up a carnival because a man's trapped in a mine. But it seems the kind of thing the Powers That Be up there would do, and I'm surprised this discovery has been such a non-event, even around here. Most people haven't even heard the story.

Anyway, I care about you, Mr Man Who Went Up A Mountain And Never Came Down, and I hope they find who you are. And I can be very secure in the fact that because of the years they're dating you back to, the Sauerkraut Band can not be implicated in your death in any way.

Which is not to say there aren't others who were quite so lucky.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* I worked my ass off last night. Well, it's still there, but I was on the go from morning till bedtime. I'm taking tonight off.