Chances are that if you are reading this you already know me. But if you are a stranger and you are looking for left-of-center political opinions, rambling, senseless rants, and coverage of the Atlanta Braves that can only be described as severely manic-depressive...Welcome!!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Local news

I don't usually watch local news, which is unusual considering I spent the majority of my life plotting and scheming to get a job in said industry. However time passed and I have soured on the format based on the fact that its not about news. Seriously it's 20 minutes of water skiing squirrels wedged in between pharmaceutical commercials showing senior citizens running around acting like second graders with ADHD because of ziskjyd, or bilixidil. As if they had been living in a cage in a basement somewhere before Merk set them free.

But today I caught the first few minutes of a certain local newscast, I won't say which one but I will say that there are 4 yes 4 beers left in my fridge at the moment. They were talking about another of Milwaukee's finest who was charged with first-degree homicide in the morning, then went home and blew his blew his brains out in the afternoon. There was nothing left to do a live shot in front of the house. Yes this station started their newscast by showing a reporter standing in front of the house of the deceased officer and even gave out the address. Now as if that wasn't bad enough they then did a live interview, right there, with the girlfriend of the person this guy was accused of killing and asked the question "how do you feel now that he's dead?" to which she replied that she was happy that this guy killed himself. All of this in front of the friggin house.

At that point I turned off the TV because I needed a shower.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Friday plane porn

OK the rents are in town and I haven't had time to do anything with this blog since last Friday. However have no fear as Friday plane porn is here!!! Wooooo.

This is an Air France A340-300 landing in St. Maarten. The end of the runway is just beyond that fence there, which makes this beach heaven for people who like to spot planes.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Up 'nort

Going camping up north this weekend. Going rafting in the 50 degree weather, sleeping in a tent, and getting muy, muy, muy blitzed.

And remember; what happens north of highway 10, stays north of highway 10

Friday plane porn

It's Friday!! And you know what that means...

This week we have an example of an Air India Boeing 777. The triple seven as it is commonly known, has been flying for more than a decade. A long range aircraft, it is used on a lot of trans-Pacific, trans-Atlantic routes. Air India is guessed it, India. And in a world where airlines frequently change their liveries, AI's scheme has remained unchanged for more than 50 years. The little mogul-style touches above every window make this a very identifiable airline. Note the English titles on the side and the Hindi on the tail, the pattern is reversed on the other side of the aircraft.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

As Boise goes...

The dear leader is down, waayyyy down. According to several different polls he is between 29-31% approval. For the record that's worse than Nixon the week before he resigned. However there are a few places still left (three states to be exact; Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah) where people think that Bush is just swell and well gosh darn golly gee is he doing one heckuva job. There is now a new map to identify these people...


Baseaball beena berry berry good to me. Indeed this has been a very good week on the diamond. Both of my teams are riding their own 4-game win streaks at this moment. And my beloved Braves have taken 8 out of their last 10 to propel themselves above .500.

The Bravos have really kicked it in to high gear recently. Recognizing the fact that the pitching this year has ranged from mediocre all the way down to a level known as "are you fucking kidding me!" the bats have really carried this team thus far. Leading the pack is last years rookie sensation Jeff Francouer who has moved past his dismal start to rack up 10 homers and 36 RBIs of late.

This guy was 11 when I graduated high school

And let us not forget my namesake Chipper who knocked a 3-run walk-off dinger last night, continuing his meteoric rise from the DL. and who would have guessed at the start of the season that a rookie catcher from Athens would be leading the NL in batting average. This is what a team looks like when it is firing on most of its cylinders, and a great deal of credit has to go to Terry Pendleton who as hitting coach has kept the Braves in contention.

Turns out TP is just as good in the dugout

The Brew Crew on the other hand is also doing well. I've said it before and I'll say it right now...Prince Fielder is a fucking stud, and there is nobody else who could even contend for rookie of the year honors right now. I also have to give some props to Geoff Jenkins, I have never been a big Jenkins fan, his propensity to go into prolonged droughts have soured me on the lad. However this year he seems to be hitting with some consistency and I am starting to come around on him. However, as with the Braves, pitching is where it all goes screwy. Is Ben Sheets ever going to come close to being what was promised to Brewer fans? If the DL were a place I think he should buy a house and run for office there.

It wouldn't be Brewers baseball if this guy were actually pitching

Elephant droppings

So I know what you're thinking; why should I care about the attempt to insert bans against gay marriage into the constitution? After all I'm straight, and while I don't hold anything against gay people, I'm really not going to get worked up about this issue. Well aside from the fact that all discrimination is wrong no matter who is being discriminated against, it is once again the Christian Gestapo telling us who and how we are allowed to love, telling us how we may define what is family, and telling us how we may behave in our own homes.

However it hasn't stopped there. In Black Jack MO, the town is working on a plan to evict all those people living within the town who are living together and not married. They are using an arcane law concerning occupancy rules to accomplish this fact with the full blessing of the mayor and the town council, good Christians all no doubt. So there is your slippery slope. First it was the gays, whom nobody cares about, then we go after those living in sin. An idea that is likely to spread and be embraced by those who hold power in this country.

So when will they come after you? What skeletons do you have in your closet? What do you do when the door is shut? Or more prudently what is on your computer? Think the government would never interfere in your personal business? How wonderfully naive.

"First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a unionist.
Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me."
Pastor Martin Niemaller

Every time I hear somebody who defines themselves as a Republican rail against the evils of big government I want to scream. In what possible way could government intrude into your life in a more personal or private manner then such as this. In the political climate of today it is possible to be a conservative, and it is possible to be a Republican, but the two are now mutually exclusive. The Falwells, Dobsons, and Robertsons of this world have succeeded in their attempt in completely dominating the GOP. Even former maverick John McCain recognizes this new reality as we saw recently, when he went down to Liberty University to supplicate himself before the dark lord. The hallmarks of limited government and personal liberty, that have always been the cornerstone of consertvative ideology are no longer valued by the ones who claim its mandate. If you are a conservative I don't know what you do or where you go, but one thing is for no longer have a home in the Republican Party.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Mil-ee-wah-kay, which is Algonquin for "the good land"

First off that line is bullshit. Although the original pronouncation is indeed Mil-ee-wah-kay it's not Algonquin it's Menominee. And it doesn't mean the good land either, it means land of many rivers. Just goes to show that you shouldn't depend on Alice Cooper for your American history tutorials.

I have been thinking recently, does anyone ever intend to end up in Milwaukee? Do they plan on it? Plotting and scheming to spend the rest of their lives plaintively waiting for the Brewers to hit .500? If so I've never met that person. Most people were either born here or they just ran out of gas on 94 one day. Next thing you know 10-20 years have gone by and these people are sitting next to you at Webb's wearing a Packers jacket, and ordering the bacon scrambler while unconsciously throwing about phrases like "ya der" or "you betcha" as they discuss the state of the Marquette construction, or the latest aldermanic indictment. Milwaukee is like the mafia to Al Pacino in Godfather III "Every time I try to leave they keep pulling me back in"

So here I am in the midst of my second tour of duty here in the Brew city and pondering, at the same time, how I once again ended up here on the western shore of Lake Michigan, and what my future holds for me? Will it be door #1, the international school route, a fabulous life spent drunkenly tripping through the capitols of Europe while tutoring the spoiled scions of diplomats and CEO's alike. Or will it be door #2, remaining in Milwaukee, hopefully moving into a craftsman bungalow in Tosa from which I depart every day to once again attempt to entertain the brain-dead masses that make up the bulk of American public school students.

So I am feeling more than a small amount of ennui about my future. Here I am pursuing my second choice of career, yet I am not assured of success in that endeavor. Yet even if I do succeed, what then? I still have no clue what I want out of life, the only thing I am sure of is what is beyond my reach. The fact that there is only myself to consider gives me a great deal of freedom in choosing where to live, but there are times that I long to be attached to someone else and have their needs factor into the decisions that I have to make. At least then there would be some certainties. I think what is chasing me is that whatever I decide to do, wherever I decide to go here will be this cloud of loneliness that will always chase me and dwell over me and perhaps that is why I feel stuck all the time, and would continue to feel stuck no matter where I go.

Hmm, going deep tonight

Monday, May 15, 2006

Oh my god...

One of the best Family Guy episodes ever! Fuckin' hysterical!

-(As Moses)"Allright, listen up, before we go any further I'm going to lay down a few rules:
Commandment #1 Shut the hell up.
Commandment #2 There's nothing I can do about the sun."

-(African newscast) "Coming up in this half-hour, flies on your face. How many is too many? But first, that orange thing in the sky; what is it? And what can you do to please it?"

-"After that Nate devoted his life to getting back at the white man for the injustice of slavery, by inventing the Department of Motor Vehicles."

This one's staying on the TIVO for a while.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Friday plane porn

As promised the Friday plane porn is now a regular feature. This week we feature A Korean Air 747-400 landing in Los Angeles, gliding over the In-N-Out franchise that is well known among airplane geeks for obvious reasons. Seriously if it wasn't for that place would shutter up within a week.

Back to the plane. The 747 is a timeless aircraft: graceful, elegant, and still the queen of the skies. (cuz the A-380 is just ugly as hell) And I like the Korean Air livery, in a world where many airlines just paint their planes white and forget about it, Korean Air brings a welcome splash of color. The airline itself is improving as well, once the owner of a safety record that was more shaky than an epileptic with parkinsons, Korean Air has now gone more than seven years without killing anybody. Way to go!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Light at the end of the tunnel

It's not done yet, but all the big hurdles have been conquered. All that's left is to throw together my binder for my professor to look at at 3:00 tomorrow. Then I'm free, free!

All this means that I am definitely going to need a DD for kickball. Any takers?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

On language

A rant I wrote in the pre-blog era, recently transformed into a reflection...enjoy

Language is a funny thing. Simply changing from one language to another can change the meaning of a sentence entirely. French, for example, is often referred to as the language of love. Supposedly you could describe, in graphic detail, the art of making haggis and as long as it was in French you could make almost anybody run red hot. On the other hand there is no language that conveys anger better than German. Had Hitler and the Nazis been speaking Swahili they would never had been able to pull off half the stuff that they did, if for no other reason than because very few Germans can speak Swahili!

I've been thinking about language recently because I was awoken at seven one Saturday morning by two men standing in front of my building arguing in Mandarin. Allow me to emphasize this; at seven on a Saturday morning, a random sidewalk in front on a non-descript Milwaukee apartment building became the scene for a pitched battle of wills for two men from the middle kingdom. Had I been capible of emotions at this point in the morning surprise would have definitely been at the top of the list.

At first I thought I was dreaming, perhaps flashing back to some time when I actually was in China. Next the thought occurred to me that this was the dog that lived with the morons across the street. This dog (for a slight tangent) cannot breathe without barking at decibel levels on par with a landing DC-9. The 4 people who live in this house, whose combined I.Q. maxes out at 86, like to let said canine out frequently (I wouldn’t want it in the house either) most often at 3:30 in the morning. I thought perhaps my brain was so sick of that damn mutt that it had, on a subconscious level converted his utterings into something, anything else! Thirdly and finally, with the cobwebs starting to clear and thought returning to my head, I begin to ask the obvious question JUST WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON DOWN THERE!!!

I leap out of bed cursing my god of the month "Damn you Ra" I cried as I stumbled towards the bookcase. I pulled off my well-worn Lonely Planet China guide and quickly flipped to the language section in the back looking for "shut up", "fuck off", or anything disparaging about their mothers. Alas the guidebook's language section is cleaner than a Mormon prayer meeting. I could have shouted "one ticket to Xi'an please" or "do you have an English menu?" But that just didn't fit the mood. I also looked for "your personal squabble is a sign of western decadence and is inconsistent with the socialist policies of ChairmanMao!" On all counts Lonely Planet failed me, and if you don't have the little red book handy to wave that last phrase is pretty much meaningless anyway.

I rushed to the window to appraise the situation thinking of objects I could throw at the pair, to find only one Chinese person standing below me. He was on a cell phone having a very animated conversation. Now anything sounds animated when you say it in Mandarin. The Chinese appear to be a perpetually pissed-off people, and their language reflects this. Asking directions to the theater sounds like a declaration of war when you say it in Mandarin. Either way weather this guy standing on my sidewalk was talking about how to bake a cake, or how to invade Taiwan, whoever he was talking to was obviously not winning because this schmuck did not come up for a breath of air the entire time. This messed with my plans because there was no sleeping with him below my window and I had iron-clad plans to stay in bed until at least 10:45. This guy had to go!

Just as I was putting on clothes to go down and confront him, he hung up his phone and walked away. Depriving me of the confrontation I had, by this point, so richly deserved. realizing this meant I could sleep again, I conceded defeat and crawled back into bed. Where just before I drifted off to sleep once more, that goddamn dog. Ra curse thee...

Friday, May 05, 2006

Friday plane porn

In order to bring in and retain new readers here at "The View From Murray Hill" I need more regular features, regular features that people can count on. I have started with the "God 'O the Month Program" and now I offer a new feature every Friday...

Friday Plane Porn

Every Friday tune in here for a picture of a different airliner in a provocative pose. such as...

This week's example is that of a Virgin Atlantic A340-600. Now generally speaking I am more of a Boeing person, but I have always found the A-340 (particularly the stretched -600 version) to be a particularly elegant looking aircraft. The -600 is the longest airliner in service today, and is used primarily for trans-oceanic journeys. And it looks friggin hot!

Thursday, May 04, 2006


OK, this is seriously pissing me off. For several months now the airwaves here in Mil-ee-wah-kay have been blanketed with ads for a drive-in burger joint called Sonic. Now having grown up in the Confederacy I am familiar with this chain, and have sampled its wares on many occasions. Nevertheless since I became a refugee here in yankee land I have not been back to one. Now it would seem from watching these endless commercials that Sonic has gone through a major re-branding phase and now offers several new lines of products that I, and every other local fatass, would be eager to try. The problem? The closest Sonic to America's Dairyland is in St. Louis! St. friggin Louis...Cardinals baseball, that big arch looking thingy, and...and...yeah.

Now I have done exhaustive searches on this topic and it seems that this chain is not expanding anytime soon, so why the hell are they advertising here? Not just advertising, but blanket friggin coverage too! Not only is this a bigger tease than every girl I ever dated, but it is an enormous waste of money for this company. Money that could be put into, oh I don't know, expanding!!! Either move here or stop the friggin ads!

I want my cherry limeaide godammit!!

The adventures of the amazing, incredible, flying guinea pig

For one of my classes I have to write these perodic "reflections" on the teaching profession and our place in it. I use it as a chance to write absurd anicdotes from my time in the chalkboard jungle. Here is an example, vintage Chipper I assure you, that my professor loved. Enjoy!

In retrospect it’s amazing that I want to be a teacher at all considering how I started out in the field. After a long while globetrotting I was back living with my parents while trying to figure out what to do with my life. Since I had nothing better to do I took a job subbing at the local middle school. My first assignment was for seventh grade English, by any standard a baptism by fire.
The day began very calmly, the school secretary welcomed me and showed me to my room, room 25, Mrs. Kebalka’s class. The room was remarkable in that it was completely unremarkable. It was a seventh grade classroom designed by central casting. Various student projects adorned the walls intermingled with inspirational posters cajoling students to read. Along the back wall of the classroom sat Oreo, the class guinea pig, squeaking away in her open plastic bin. I found the assignments for that day and began mentally running through them when I noticed a post-it on the sheet. It said “Warning: the fourth period class can be rowdy, and they have been known to get out of hand.” Prophetic words indeed.

Then I experienced the parade of the Stepford teachers, one by one the other seventh grade teachers would come in to my room and repeat some form of the following dialogue:

ST: Sooo, welcome
Me: Thank you
ST: Do you have everything you need? Did she leave you good instructions
Me: Ummm, I think so, but I was wondering about this…
ST: Great, well watch out for that 4’Th period class, they’re a handful. Call me if you need me.

Usually they would have one foot out the door by the time they uttered the last line, no doubt rushing back to the staff room to get their bets in now that they had surveyed the new guy. By the third time I danced to this song I was starting to develop a complex about this class. Were these kids aliens of some sort? Were they going to tie me up and leave me bound and gagged in the chair? Should I get to the staff room now to put in my own wager? I was starting to sweat.

First period was prep, I had a cup of coffee, read the paper, made sure that Oreo had enough food and water, and waited. Second and third periods came and went. Both were very smooth. Assignments were handed out, work was done, they even laughed at my cheesy jokes (second more than third but hey, what are you going to do?) I was now relaxed. Then the fourth period kids started filing in. I would later learn that of the 22 students in the fourth period class a whopping 10 had IEPs. Yet because of chronic understaffing in the special ed. department there were no aides to help in the classroom.

Along with showing classic ADHD symptoms, Mitchell was a middle school alpha male. Mitchell did not like taking orders from anybody, and he had the ability to start, and lead an insurrection against any teacher he chose. Spartacus with an IEP. And I a sub, a new sub at that, was fresh meat in his eyes. It was clear from the start that this class was going to run differently. Vocab drills dissolved as disinterested students started focusing on other things, namely Mitchell who was enjoying the attention. At this point my classroom management techniques were weak to non-existant, so my attempts to steer the boat back in my direction failed miserably. I handed out the writing assignment as the general din in the classroom grew louder and louder. Students were getting out of their seats and milling about the classroom like it was a break time. Surely I could put a stop to this, and for a few minutes at a time I did, but it would slowly decompose back to a state of chaos that had become the baseline.

“Mitchell sit down!” was uttered so much I could have put it on a loop. Up at the blackboard…“Mitchell sit down!” over by the windows…”Mitchell sit down!” It was no use. I caught myself glancing g at the clock to see just how much time there was in this period. It was when I was helping one of the students who was working on the assignment that I noticed something out of the corner of my eye, Mitchell over by Oreo. I hadn’t fully processed the thought when I heard “Hey Zack, go long!”

At this point, like a car accident, everything went into slow motion. I turned around hearing myself saying “Mmmmiiiiiiitccccchellllllllll, Nooooooooooooooooooo!!” But I was too late, soon Oreo was airborne. No longer encumbered by gravity she sailed across the room, there was nothing to do now but watch. For a split second it was, dare I say, beautiful. Here was this humble, ground dwelling rodent, its body grossly inflated due to constant overfeeding by students and ignorant subs alike. But for a moment she ceased to be this cylindrical mass of fur. As she arced across the room she was now free, graceful, and liberated…for a split second. Then she landed.

Oreo landed on a table and skidded across clear to the other end where she then fell into the lap of a 12-year old girl. As you can imagine the reaction of this girl upon having a large rodent suddenly appear in her lap was not one of mild curiosity. The shriek echoed throughout the whole building, and I am convinced that dogs as far as three towns away stopped in their tracks.
Bedlam, pure bedlam was the result. I turned to Mitchell and said nothing. I said nothing because if I opened my mouth I would surely have used words that would get me fired on the spot. I pointed out the door and in the general direction of the office, and made some sort of mumbling noise, Mitchell got the idea. Fortunately the class was almost over at this point, lunch was next, and I had a referral slip to fill out. I wish I still had it I would like to have it framed. As a postscript everyone thought I had done fairly well, it being my first day and all. Mitchell’s behavior was neither unprecedented nor unexpected, and we would actually go on to have quite a cordial relationship. Mitchell spent the rest of the day in the resource room and had detention for the rest of the week. His parents also had to come in for a conference, I think the office had their number on speed dial. Soon after this incident the special ed. department did find someone to cover the 4’Th period class, a fact for which Mrs. Kebalka was immensely grateful.

The guinea pig was fine.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Plane guy

Yeah I'm a geek...
But you have to admit, this is a cool picture.

God 'o the month

This is a new feature that I am starting here on The View From Murray Hill. We are constantly told by the media in this country that it is important to have faith in God, and it is paramount to inflict that faith upon others whenever possible. Now being a lapsed Catholic is quite frankly boring, and my new religion, Evangelical Agnosticism (We don't know, and neither do you...Hallelujiah!) won't allow me to play all the reindeer games the other believers do. So I, your humble reporter, am starting the god 'o the month program.

Each month you can tune in here and find a deity already picked out of the pantheon ready for you to worship. You can pray to them, sacrifice to them, even send them money (through me of course) Then, just when you are tired of said deity, it goes away and another one is selected ready for your adoration.

This is religion for people on the go folks, just the thing for that believer who has no time to settle down in front of an altar and sacrifice a newborn son (We here at The View From Murray Hill will take care of that for you) So without further adieu, the first god 'o the month is....drum roll....

Ra, the Egyptian Sun god.

Might as well start at the top, right? When it comes to ancient Egyptian mythology Ra is the top banana. Ra was everything to the Egyptians, he was the source of all light, heat, and energy. Egyptians believed that when the sun set each night he then crossed the underworld in a boat to come to the other side of the world to rise again the next morning. Thus Ra was the paramount force of creation, and master of life. Although the Egyptians were essentially polythestic there was no question that Ra sat on top, there were even eras when only Ra was worshipped, monotheism at least a thousand years before the Jews came on the scene.

To worship Ra try this little chant...
"Praise be unto thee, O Ra, thou exalted Power, who dost enter into the habitations of Ament, behold [thy] body is temu."
"Praise be unto thee, O Ra, thou exalted Power, who dost enter into the hidden palace of Anubus, behold [thy] body is Khepera."

There you have it, submit to the power of Ra and ye shall be rewarded...maybe. Tune in next month I'm feeling in the mood for something Norse.

Posting accomplished

For those of you keeping track yesterday (May 1) was the three year anniversary of the end of the war in Iraq. Three years since "Mission Accomplished" put to end that chapter in American history. So happy V-I day everyone! I celebrated by being thankful for the peaceful, prosperous, and democratic nation Iraq has become, a true beacon at the center of the middle east. I then went out to fill my car with all that cheap Iraqi oil that has been flowing like water for the past three years. Then, while driving around on all that cheap gas, I passed an armory and noticed how empty it seemed, what with all the national guard troops at home with their families. All of them no doubt keeping in their memory books the flowers they were greeted with when they marched triumphantly through the streets of Baghdad, Ramahadi, Fallujah...

And then I woke up.

Three years of war and all we have to show for it are 2,400 dead Americans, countless dead Iraqis, 350 billion wasted tax dollars, and unheard of profits for oil companies and defense contractors. Oh well I'm sure we'll have forgotten all about that when we are marching on Tehran. That one has to go better, the Iranians love Americans...right?

My country went to war in Iraq and all I got was this stupid president