E c l e c t i c a

Friday, January 24, 1997

just when you think it's safe to go back in the water, it isn't. It's either -50F outside, or stopping to change a tire on a freeway gets you shot in the head or we all find out that Newt Gingrich, just reelected Speaker of The House, has a long history of quasi-criminal activities and an outright disregard for the law, or Slick Willie and Hillarious are once again being crowned as co-presidents or... It was a hell of a week and I'm glad it's over.

Newt-O-Rama
It just doesn't seem to end: the Gingrich merry-go-round of lies and deceptions. I am a longtime Conservative with definite Republican leanings, but this whole sordid affair has begun to make me nauseous. Gingrich has been lying about this relatively-small matter for two years or more, and could have disposed of it quickly before it got blown out-of-proportion.

On Tuesday, The House of Representatives voted 295-28 to reprimand and level a $300,000 fine against the Speaker for ethics violations over the last 2 years. Make no mistake about it; this was an historic event in our government's and nation's short history. I think the many people who are disappointed in him are so because he was involved in such f*cking stupid stuff with GOPAC and other arch-conservatives. It just wasn't necessary to trot out the damage control team and lie about this trivial shit for over 2 years. Not a bright strategic move.

In case you haven't read the entire story about Gingrich's complete lack of ethics and morals in this and other matters, CNN has done a fine job of detailing them. So has The New York Times and The Washington Post in a very objective and unbiased way. Each report deserves a very careful read, so that you don't dismiss the whole situation out-of-hand as being a liberal conspiracy. It's (unfortunately) not. James M. Cole, the special counsel, performed admirably and did some very solid and unbiased investigative work. There's some real important facts here; an obvious, systematic pattern that goes back many years into Gingrich's past political history. A criminal pattern that's very, very disturbing to any Conservative. Read these accounts for an sorry earful.

For another earful about Newt, Conservatives, Republicans, and even an occasional kick at Clinton, read the decidedly ultra liberal Mother Jones Magazine. These people don't mess around with niceties; they go for the balls. It's nice, once-in-a-while, to hear what the other camp 's propaganda is all about. That viewpoint is crucial for helping one to maintain one's sense of place in an ideological contest, such as politics. I'm not a political animal at all; I despise what politics is, but I do have very definite and considered opinions on the subject.

In 1960, I worked at the Nixon-Lodge Campaign Headquarters in the Midwest town I grew up in outside of Chicago, Arlington Heights, Ill. I was 11 at the time. Way too young to vote, I ran the phone banks of 50-100 volunteers, wrote scripts, newsletters and dealt with printers and advertising speciality salesmen. assons, bumper stickers, straw hats with the candidate's names on the colorful bands, well just about everything that ran the place. Nixon got beaten by the sleaze of The Chicago Democratic Machine. (Chicago criminal Mayor Richard J. Daley registered and voted 40,000+ deceased Cook County citizens, giving JFK the winning margin in Chicago). It's a legendary story. And that was the end of politics for me.

I've been a Conservative since the early 80s after a stint as a hippie liberal in the 60s and 70s but this Gingrich ethics situation is enough to make me rethink my political direction once again. The whole thing stinks.

To make matters worse, each day at noon on a local radio station, that tie-selling, sycophant entertainer Rush Limbaugh spends 3 hours defending Gingrich's actions as being trivial and inconsequential. Sure, we all know that most politicians are crooks and degenerates, but Limbaugh draws the flawed analogy that Gingrich's crime of rape is not as bad as outright murder. (Both are heinous crimes against people and society and both deserve death via capital punishment.) I used to enjoy listening to Limbaugh; now I can't stand the sight or sound of him. He's no better than the scum he defends. Maybe worse, considering all the lame rationalizations and lies he expounds and pitifully, believes.

That's behind us now, thankfully. Isn't it?

Sick of both Slick Willie "Bubba" Clinton and Newt "I didn't do anything wrong" Gingrich's antics? Then have some fun: play Squash The moron of Your Choice. It's a little messy, but don't worry about cleanup, the InterNet Clean-Up Elves will take care of that gooey stuff. Enjoy.

Flat Tire
The breaking news story was sad: Bill Cosby's 27-year old son, Ennis, was murdered while changing a flat tire on his $137,000 Mercedes-Benz sports car (500SL) at Rt 405 and Mulholland Drive, in Los Angeles, on Friday morning at 2am. I hope he thought the 47-year old screenwriter bimbo with the fur coat and Jaguar he was going to see at 2am was worth it. Good neighborhood or not, I still carry my .357 Magnum everywhere I go.

When I worked for Grey Advertising in the 80s on Madison Ave in NYC, I spent a year with the BFGoodrich IMSA Camel GT Racing Team, travelling the racing circuits. BFG Corporate was one of my clients. The old and now defunct Sears Point Int'l Raceway was not too far by southern California standards from that location where Cosby was whacked. We raced there twice a year. I know that Mulholland overpass where he pulled off to change the tire because we used the same route to and from Sears Point. I'd have definitely taken a gun along at 2am; hell, I would have carried my .357 even in daylight. There are no safe neighborhoods anymore anywhere. Wake up and smell the coffee.

Iced Coffee
In some ways, we're lucky here in Pennsylvania: the arctic cold that hammered the northwest, plains and Midwest is just passing over quickly. This is only our third day of subzero temperatures. The other regions had well over two weeks of it, and it's not over yet for them. More is moving down from Canada (thanks, neighbors!). The loss of human and animal life has been tragic. The thermometer outside my office window says +4F; with the 25mph wind, it's probably around -20F. Thankfully, our greenhouses are built to withstand this brutal cold, snow and ice loads. The large gas heaters just continue to do their jobs: keep everything alive and toasty warm.

The birds that we had nesting in Greenhouses 2 and 3 seem to have left; I've taken food into both houses but none was touched. I've looked everywhere, but they're not to be found. Even on warmer days, I can't find a trace of them. Either Pickles got them, or they've left for a warmer neighborhood. I sure can't blame them at all with this lousy cold weather.

The outdoor water gardens have invaluable 75v floating cattle trough heaters ($65 at the hardware or farm store) in them. That keeps a hole in the ice at +34F so the carbon dioxide can escape and the large Japanese Koi fish don't suffocate. One of the main pond's waterfalls froze solid today and the water backed-up over the Bio-Filter, the pump kept pumping and the pond lost 3 inches of water. I caught it Sunday morning and pulled the plug to the pump and shut it down. That water was valuable insulation for the fish and will have to be replaced immediately as soon as it gets to +1F, I'll do it. B-r-r-r-r-r-r-r...

Clinton's Innaugural Folly
Monday saw William Jefferson Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton ordained for the second time as co-Presidents, despite bitter cold and blustery winds. The nation watched as these two criminals along with the little twerp who's Slick Willie's VP took the oath of office; Hillarious was mouthing the words right along with hubby, and by doing so, ushered in another era of stonewalling, lying and impending trials, indictments, jail terms and (most-probably) several rounds of presidential pardons for their own and friends' personal and political excesses.

I just couldn't watch it; I haven't watched an innauguration since JFKs in '61. Something is still terribly perverted here. These ceremonies and balls are such useless pomp; the nation spends over $100 million on that ceremony and the week-long activities. Nothing worthwhile or credible gets accomplished in a town where not much worthwhile gets done anyway. That money could be better used elsewhere for good, purposeful things. But tradition is strong in America and mandates that we do something to excess once again, as if the moronic World Series and SuperBowl aren't idiotic spectacles enough.

There was even a very badly-designed Innaugural Website wasting valuable bandwidth and electrons. Some schlock agency from NYC made that mess on the Web. You should see the pathetic shit they've done for their clients. Absolute shit. And the idiot ISP (Internet Service Provider) that hosted this piece of junk, couldn't handle the incoming traffic and the site crashed. A bunch of real amateurs all around. No loss.

The world's worst kind of liberal scum filled DC at the Innauguration Parties, Balls and sundry other Events to rival anything that town has seen since the Reagan-era ended. Hollywood, long the bastion of lowlife liberals, has virtually emptied out and transplanted itself to Washington, DC, for a week of non-stop partying. Clinton likes to surround himself with sycophants and celebrities both groups being useless societal parasites to feed his fragile ego and share the center stage with him. If it weren't for show business business, these Hollywood liberals would also be recipients of the social welfare programs they want us honest, hard-working Americans to keep funding. They have no talent for anything real; make-believe is their forte, if you can call fantasy a vocation.

The Hollywood scum seem to believe that liberal democrats are somehow responsible for their success in show business; nothing could be further from the truth. It's during times of Conservative Republican administrations that prosperity spreads itself out to those far corners of the nation, enabling all to prosper. The lowlife liberal democrats now take the credit for that economic phenomenon. And the Hollywood leeches basically devoid of all reality-based ability in the business world feel that massive social programs give back to the poor who have supported their careers. What a convoluted, f*cked-up mode of thought these people have. Hey, that's showbiz! They should have a collective website called www.clueless.com.

During the Innauguration, talk of newer, greater social-spending programs with top-heavy administrative layers of useless, liberal technocrats to mis-handle and screw-up the programs was rampant. Clinton promised something would happen in his second term. Nothing will, we can be sure, thanks to the Conservative majority in Congress. Why waste money with more unneeded social welfare programs that have crippled this country into the next millenium? It takes decades to undo the damage the liberal democrats have done by throwing money at every problem they're faced with. Most of the social programs in place now need to be undone. And most will have to be to balance the budget and bring this nation back to the brink of solvency again.

Certain social programs are necessary for a safety net for productive citizens, yet most programs now pay people for doing nothing except laziness, breeding and dumping their progeny off onto society to care for. These kind of low-class, scum transcend race and religion; they must either be reigned-in and made to work for their paychecks from a real job, or left to wither on the vine and die-out once and for all. Harsh words? Not at all. A simple reality check for all of us something we all need periodically.

The Real World
Back to the real world where honest, day-to-day effort matters and the fantasy world of Washington and Hollywood are quickly eclipsed.

Our work on the interior of the 20'x30' Storage Building soon to become my foreman and crews' Landscape Headquarters is almost completed. Painting, cleanup and reorganization will be the next steps in transferring much of the equipment and supplies over to the new 30'x60' Storage Building. It's done a great job of protecting my trucks, skidloader and tractor so far from the ice and snow storms. Much of the supplies will be transferred into Greenhouse 1 and the new building, so that the landscape crews will have the 20'x30' structure as their facility.

Expansion on this scale comes at a price: monetary costs aside, the daily pressure of meeting and beating deadlines in the race against Spring takes its toll. Each move has to correographed according to the weather's allowances, that is, we get things done when the weather permits.

There are hundreds of specimen-grade shrubs still heeled-in near the mulch pile, waiting for the weather to allow us to move them to their designated location in the newly-revamped, Nursery Stock Display Area. They'll be just fine where they are if we don't get it done until Spring, but with all the things that happen so quickly beginning in March, it's a job that's best done now. When the tractor-trailer loads of fresh, new nursery stock start arriving, combined with hundreds of landscape estimates and jobs, it's a very stressful and hectic period for everyone here. I'd rather avoid additional problems and get it done over the Winter months. Weather permitting, of course.

Win95-1, Me-0
It started just after Windows96 Plus! froze and I had to boot the system. Nothing else worked. After I did the boot, not much of anything else did either.

The next morning when I wound up the caged squirrels in the Microsoft Motor, it did some very bizarre visual things. If this had been the 60s again and I'd had some blotter-acid (LSD) handy, it would have been a fun time. But it wasn't a nice way to start the day. And from there it went downhill rapidly.

Win95 came back up in the safe mode; which is scary when you really think about it: does it operate in the unsafe mode otherwise? shit, I guess so. It asked me to reload Windows95; some files had damaged drivers and needed refreshing. So I grabbed what I thought was Windows95 it turned out to be the Windows95 Upgrade and not basic 95 and did the evil deed. My 1024x768 resolution was gone; icons were so large that the visually-impaired err blind people could read them; standard Windows colors; modem gone; Plus! gone; CD gone; Zip drive gone hell, I thought this software was smart enough to only repair the damaged or missing files, not overwrite the whole application. It f*cked everything up royally. All I could say was, "Welcome back, Bill. We've missed you these last few months."

I spent all day Monday and Tuesday retrieving, reloading and restoring critical programs. Instead of calling my friend, the Windows95 Wizard Jeff, who'd just gotten back from two weeks in Cancun, Mexico with his wonderful fiancee, Denise, I called my friend Pete and he stopped by for a look from a tech's perspective. (He said shoot it!) He also brought a new Zoom 33.6kbps modem along for me to try out in the Office Pentium. I couldn't get better than a 26.4 rate from it; the USR screamed along at 28.8; so back in the old one went. Nothing would go right that day.

I gradually got the pieces pulled back together: after first getting 9600bps on the restored USR Sportster Modem, I got it running back to 28.8kbps; the screen came back, the CD and the Zip drive. The HP Scanjet 3p Scanner is still dead, but at least the other hardware and software is working. The Scanner worked fine with the old v3.111111, but somehow hates 95. Hmmmm. This is going to be a challenge. Maybe later.

Pete worked on the Front Retail Counter 386/33-8 unit; it's soon to become a Pentium 586/P100-32 and run some Windows-based labelling and sign-making operations. The old 286 will still run the DOS-based Retail Point-Of-Sale (POS) Program until they release their new Windows version; then we'll junk the 286 (as a doorstop) and get a new 586 Pentium to replace it. The makers of this POS software take their sweet time about new applications; they release quarterly upgrades to the DOS shit, but have feet-of-clay with Windows stuff. Maybe they aren't so dumb.

With the InterNet connection re-established, I downloaded 25+ messages and could once again see what the world was up to. I'm clueless as to what happened. An undocumented feature? Perhaps. And perhaps not; I'll never know.

I don't think I want to know what happened. Ignorance is indeed bliss when Bill's involved.

Office Work
Preparing for Spring is what this business is all about. Sounds easy, but it isn't. There are in an operation of this size hundreds of projects and thousands of loose ends to deal with on a daily basis. I've always had to juggle many projects in the air in my advertising career (cleints demand that sort of ability), so keeping things moving toward their logical conclusions is critical. Spring will be here in under 57 days.

Paperwork is the biggest effort: sorting catalogs, magazines, memos, faxes, purchase requisitions, confirmation orders, making inventory changes, pricing, labeling, signs, tags, landscape estimates, appointments, job scheduling for now and for Spring, Open House (Saturday, April 12th) arrangements, computer re-configurations, new software purchases and installations for Front Counter Point-Of-Sale use, the incessant phone calls, customers and visitors dropping by at all hours, ongoing sales reps calling and dropping by, new sales reps calling and dropping by, 1996 taxes, 1997 projections and forecasts, follow-ups from trade show contacts, and a thousand other things that I can't remember all need to be handled daily. Working 15 hour days, seven days per week throughout the Winter, is the only way to get it all done.

My secretary reappeared this week; she's working in nearby Stewartstown, PA, as the scheduling honcho-ette at a large residential construction jobsite, keeping everything moving along smoothly. She'll be coming back in the Spring on a part-time basis to help out again. Her husband just bought a new 586 Pentium so they're both surfing their brains out too. Also, one of the men that I'd trained in nursery stock sales a couple of years ago, re-appeared this week; he's looking for weekend work in the Spring, so some of the pressure will be off of me beginning in April. I dislike assisting anywhere from 1-30 people at a time because of the crowds. It's far better when the load can be split-up amongst several knowledgeable people.

Getting my Office ready for the coming onslaught of requests landscape meetings and the accompanying estimates, speaking engagements, demonstrations, garden club tours, civic projects et al is a full time job in and of itself. The filing and paperwork chores must be done on a semi-weekly basis, or it gets ahead of me. Separating the 1996 from 1997 records yet having everything handy for reference is a delicate balancing act. Somehow I've managed for the past seven years, so I guess I'll muddle through again.

Principled Women
This week saw Madeline Albright nominated and unanimously confirmed as the very first female Secretary of State. It's long overdue. One of the few bastions irrespective of gender, party label or political agenda of honesty, integrity and responsibility left in Congress anywhere. Sad but true.

Also, Nancy Johnson, (R-Conn) House of Representatives Ethics Chairperson, followed through with her promise of finding a level of justice for Mr. Newt. I'm proud of her integrity and resultant actions. Unless this Mother Jones article about Nancy being in (political) bed with Newt is true... say it ain't so, Nancy!

Next Week...
A special guest will appear here and give you the low-down on all the controversy regarding blocking software, used to filter out certain objectionable content found on the Web.

He's a student who has suddenly become embroiled in this controversy by virtue of his own website, which is now blocked by a scurrilous manufacturer of that software. His story has appeared in many printed and online publications, prompting reaction from the ACLU and others in court.

It's a good example of a product's usage gone wrong. Join me for for the story next week.

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