Friday, March 31, 2006

Here it is, Friday again. On the one hand, it's great to come to the end of another busy working week...on the other, the weekends when we're supposed to relax tend to be busier than the rest of the week. Now why should that be?

Tonight, as always, we'll go dancing...always a great way to unwind after a busy day. Tomorrow is dancing, too - we'll be driving up to Bethesda, MD, for Agnes to get some training for her eventual certification by the International Society of Teachers of Dance (quite a big deal for a professional dancer). My job is to take notes for her while she concentrates on the training.

And on Sunday, the day we lose an hour of sleep for Daylight Savings Time anyhow, we have to meet a group of other volunteers at the ghastly hour of 5:45 AM to take our places in support of the annual Cherry Blossom Run, cheering on some of our friends who have the gumption to run. Not my preferred way to spend a Sunday, but our friends deserve our support, and the weather promises to be good. I'll see how annoying I can make myself with my camera. political message or other grousing today, just a few notes in expectation of a busy weekend. At least Agnes and I will be able to do something together, which is a good thing by itself.

Have a good weekend. More ruminations coming...


Thursday, March 30, 2006

There was an interesting article on the CNN website yesterday, titled "Who gives a @#$% about profanity?" The subtitle was, "Poll says 75% of women and 60% of men don't like swearwords."

I talked about this in my post last Sunday, when I wrote about the standup comics who couldn't get out a sentence without peppering it with four- and seven-letter words. Once again, I'm not above using a little profanity for effect...but I don't think it's necessary to use the "f-word" and its relatives and derivatives multiple times in a single sentence. What's really disheartening is that the use of language that would break the ears off a marble statue is freely and loudly used in the most public of places, and in the hearing of children. And the children are picking it up.

I think it's sad that some people are so poorly educated and socially immature that they have to spew torrents of gutter language in the absence of anything more intelligent. No matter how handsome, witty and intelligent one may be, the use of foul language undermines our image and contributes to the growth of the impolite society. Like most normal, healthy men, I love watching beautiful women...but when they start talking like steveadores, they begin to look like old hags.

Why don't we all step back, take a deep breath, and decide to begin with a profanity-free day once a week? Or even just cut back to one curse word per sentence? I know it's a fantasy...but compared to some of the fantasies I could have, I suppose it's not so bad.

Have a good day. And watch your language!


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Things that make you feel humble...

There's a wonderful website sponsored by NASA that each day publishes magnificent photographs of the universe, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and other observatories. You can find the site at

This is one of the very few websites I visit every day without fail, because it stirs a feeling of awe and wonder at the majesty of the universe, and a sense of just how small and unimportant each of us is in the inconceivably vast sweep of the cosmos. Tens of billions of galaxies, each with tens of billions of stars, most of them so far away that we can only see them as they looked when dinosaurs ruled the earth, when their light started its lonely journey across the void. It staggers the imagination.

Is there anyone else out there? I don't know. But it surely seems as if there's no shortage of possible places for them to be. Maybe there's someone out there, peering up at his night sky through his six eyes, typing in his blog with the digits at the ends of his tentacles, and wondering the same thing. It's nice to think we may someday know.

Have a good day, and check out the astropix website. I think you'll like it.


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Things that make you go AARRGGHH!! (Part 2).

One of the things that was very important to my parents, and which they drilled mercilessly into us, was the importance of good manners. Unfortunately, it doesn't look as if many parents are doing that any more. On the bell curve between Miss Manners and boorish morons, the top of the curve is disconcertingly far to the boorish moron end. From simple everyday rudeness like the inability of some people to say "please" and "thank you" to the more technical rudeness like folks who have to share their most intimate cell phone conversations with you, we just aren't a very polite society any more. And that's a sad thing.

Two examples...

A few months back I was waiting for my flight Reagan National Airport in Washington. Sitting a few seats away from me was a well-dressed businessman who was - literally - shouting into his cell phone, berating the person on the other end for their ineptitude in being unable to schedule an appointment for him. With his proctologist. What was he thinking? And what were we supposed to think?

Second example: I arrived at the Metro station one morning to go to work, and as I approached the train, I saw that one of the doors was more than half blocked by a woman with several large pieces of luggage. She was apparently very concerned that she would not be able to get off at her stop in time, so she tried to ensure a good exit position by parking directly in the doorway. When 0ne person pointed out to her that there was an open, front-row seat right behind her, she glared at him and snapped that he should mind his own $@#! business. What was she thinking? Obviously, not about anyone but herself.

Now, I'm not suggesting that I'm a consistent paragon of good manners...I suffer fools a lot less gladly as I get older, and I'm more likely than I was when I was younger to answer rudeness with rudeness. But like to think that I absorbed some of the lessons my parents taught me about simple politeness and consideration for others. And wouldn't it be nice if everyone had parents who cared enought to teach that lesson?

Be polite to someone'll find it's not so hard, and most people will thank you for it. More commentary tomorrow.


Monday, March 27, 2006

There's a great line in the movie "Aliens," in which the frustrated character Ripley asks the inquiry board that's questioning her, "Did IQ's just drop sharply while I was away?"

I felt that way when I read about the huge rallies in Los Angeles in favor of illegal immigration. Well, not exactly in favor of illegal immigration per se, but against cracking down on it. If you read my post of March 16th, you know how I feel about the topic - immigration per se is fine, and is in fact essential to keeping our country strong and vibrant. But the real issue here is the willingness of some immigrants to break the law, and of many people in this country to excuse that illegality. Where are we if we are able to pick the laws we choose to obey? What does it mean to be a nation of laws if the laws can be ignored with impunity? What message does it send to those who break the law to come here, and those who support them...that it's all right to break laws, if you don't think they should apply to you ?

To reiterate my earlier point: to protect our security, we must get a handle on illegal immigration, and we must do it by providing legal opportunities for those who wish to come to this country. The facilitation of illegal activity is illegal and should be punished. People who have violated the law to enter this country should be rounded up and jailed or expelled. We will do much more for new immigrants if we can provide avenues for them to come here legally...if we can offer them the full protections granted and responsibilites demanded by legal residence and citizenship.

Immigration reform doesn't mean, "it's okay to break the law." Immigration reform means, "you are welcome to come here and enjoy the fruits of life in America, but you must do it within the law." If you don't like the law, work to change it...not with mass demonstrations, but with the grassroots political action that makes your elected representatives respond to your concerns. America offers you this possibility. Most other countries don't.

And if your IQ has dropped sharply enough that you can't understand that, then perhaps you need to reconsider not just your rights under the law, but your responsibilities as well.

Have a good day. More random comments tomorrow.


Sunday, March 26, 2006

Last night we went to a local comedy club with our daughter and son-in-law. We enjoyed their company and the MC and the two featured stand-up comics were reasonably funny, but why is it that many comedians have to use so much foul langauge in their routines? One of the performers, in particular, didn't seem to be able to get out a sentence without peppering it with four- and seven-letter words.

Now don't get the wrong idea...I can curse with the best of 'em when the occasion demands, but I tend to agree with my mother, who always said that foul language was what people used when they weren't smart enough to say anything more intelligent. And I once read a quote from someone (whose name I can't remember) that curse words, because there are so few really good ones, should be held in reserve and brought out, like the flag, on special occasions when they are needed to rally ideas.

To me, really good comedy should challenge your brain, and should make you laugh without resorting to vulgarity unless it's somehow integral to the joke. One of the funniest comedians on the planet, Steven Wright, doesn't use foul language but makes you think twice and laugh with his twisted observations on everyday things ("I used to work in a fire-hydrant couldn't park anywhere"). Oh, well. I guess I'll just live with it, since it's not going to go away.

One other observation from the evening...sitting at a table right in front of us was an attractive young woman wearing very strange shoes. The high heels were of clear plastic and featured built-in lights - red on one side, blue on the other - that flashed as she walked. She looked like a cute police cruiser. I've seen shoes like those on small children, and running shoes with flashing safety lights for folks who like to run in the dark, but I've never seen them on dress shoes for ladies before. Interesting. I wonder what it would be like to see a ballroom full of ladies dancing swing or jive, wearing shoes like boggles the mind.

See you tomorrow. Enjoy the rest of the weekend.


Saturday, March 25, 2006

Things that make you go AAARRRGGGHHH!!!

I was running errands earlier this afternoon, and had stopped to pick up a few things (five, to be exact) at the local Costco warehouse store. As is usual for a Saturday, the store was pretty crowded, and I ended up in the checkout line behind a woman with a cartload of stuff the size of Mount Ranier. The cashier eventually finished ringing up this lady's very large order and announced the which time the customer suddenly awoke from her daydreaming and realized, "Oh, my goodness...I guess I have to pay for this!" She rooted around in her enormous purse, eventually locating a wallet which turned out to contain no money. She rummaged in the purse some more and eventually managed to find three different money envelopes, from which she extracted about half of the amount needed to pay her bill. She then asked the cashier if she could apply the cash to the bill, and pay the rest with a debit card. The cashier agreed, counted up the cash, and announced the remaining total... whereupon the lady now realized she needed a debit card! She went back to excavating in her purse and in time extracted a battered debit card, which she swiped and poked a PIN which turned out to be wrong. She tried the PIN twice more with the same result, then went searching for yet another debit card. This one, too, seemed not to like any of the PINs she entered. Finally, she produced a third debit card, this one wrapped in the letter from the bank which had provided her PIN ... she carefully, digit by digit, copied the PIN from the letter, and successfully finished paying for her purchases.

But the story isn't over, because she thought the amount was too high. She remained parked at the end of the checkout lane while she laboriously compared the receipt (which was of prodigious length) to the contents of her cart.

Now, I don't know about you, but this sort of thing annoys me. I dislike having my time wasted by someone who's being stupid. If you're in a checkout line, common sense should indicate that you will eventually be asked for some form of payment, and common courtesy would tell you to have it ready so you can speed things along and not inconvenience those in line behind you. I don't think this lady will ever read this blog...and if, by some miracle, she read it, I doubt she'd recognize herself. Whatever happened to good manners and common sense?

Okay, I'm done fulminating now...time to finish doing the laundry so that I can enjoy other things on this partly-cloudy, chilly afternoon.

Enjoy your weekend. Avoid idiots in checkout lines. See you tomorrow.


Friday, March 24, 2006

This week feels as if it had 17 days in it, but it's finally Friday, and the weekend beckons. I'm sure Einstein would have had some theory that explains why working weeks feel so long and weekends so short, but I probably wouldn't understand it anyway.

Speaking of understanding, today we have yet another example of something I just don't comprehend. Agnes has found a nice, reliable and hard-working lady who comes once a month to clean our house. That, I understand. The strange part for me is that we have to clean the house so it isn't too dirty before the lady we pay to clean it arrives. Go figure.

But by this afternoon the house will be sparkly clean, this evening we can go dancing, and I will be able to embark tomorrow with full energy on the centerpiece of my weekend: renting a front-end loader to move the accumulated dirty wash downstairs to the laundry room and turn it into clean wash. Next time, I'm going to read the fine print in the marriage contract more closely...

Enjoy your weekend. I'll try to post something a little more thought-provoking tomorrow.


Thursday, March 23, 2006

More about dancing...

One of the wonderful things about dancing is that it allows you to become, for about three minutes, someone completely different. I'm a pretty average-looking middle-aged fellow, but for the three minutes of an average song I can be an elegant man-about-town, taking a beautiful lady in my arms and gliding around the dance floor in time to music that carries me away to other times and places, far from the cares and worries of life and job.

And, as I'm fond of telling people, there's nothing quite like being married to a dance teacher. On the one hand, I'm under the thumb of a demanding live-in taskmaster. On the other hand, I can go to the studio dance party every Friday night, dance with any woman I like...and have my wife criticize me if I'm not holding her right! It doesn't get much better than that!

Time to get ready to go to work. Have a good day, and come back tomorrow for more random thoughts.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Well, I seem to have fallen behind on my posts...I had intended to post last Monday, when Agnes and I returned from our dance competition, but life intervened, and here it is Wednesday night. Better late than never, eh?

Have you ever been to a ballroom dance competition? If you haven't, you're missing an event that is more fun and exciting than you could ever imagine. Agnes and I traveled to Stamford, Connecticut, last Thursday to participate in the Tri-State Challenge, a major East Coast competition. We did very well...we danced eleven times, taking a first place on points (93.6 out of 100) with our American Gold Cha-Cha Solo Exhibition, and ten first place finishes in our regular heats (American Gold Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Rumba, Cha-Cha, Swing, and Bolero, and International Silver Viennese Waltz and Quickstep). In the picture above, Agnes and I are in the on-deck chute, waiting to be introduced for one of our Latin dance heats. Sadly, I don't have many photos of us dancing...since I'm the one who usually takes pictures of everyone else, it's rare that someone actually takes a picture of us...this one isn't too bad, especially since you can't see how nervous I am.

People often say they don't think they could dance competitively...they'd be too nervous and self conscious. All I can say is that it's a marvelous experience to be whirling around the dance floor in the arms of a beautiful woman while the audience cheers you on. That's MY kind of sport!

We'll talk more about dancing, both socially and competitively, in future posts. We'll talk about a lot of other things, too, so come back again soon. I promise to be more regular about posting!


Thursday, March 16, 2006

So tell me, what is the problem some people seem to have with the word, "illegal?"

It seems pretty straightforward to me. The definition in my Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary (okay, not so new - it's a 1979 edition) is, "not according to or authorized by law." That's pretty clear.

So why do we need to refer to people who have entered the United States in a way "not according to or authorized by law" as something other than "illegal?" Why pussyfoot around and call them "undocumented," as if their problem was simply that a pickpocket stole their identity documents? They have broken the law. In a nation governed by the rule of law, which is how we advertise ourselves to the world, people obey the law or pay the just consequences. Our fundamental problem is that we've removed the consequences.

Make no mistake: this is a serious problem, and absolutely no one connected with it is being totally honest with you. People enter this country illegally for the same reason that tens of millions of people have entered it legally throughout our history: they are looking for economic opportunity, freedom from oppression or persecution, or both. Some who enter illegally are criminals. The problem is that we made it simple, useful, and consequence-free for people to break the law to enter this country.

Turning a blind eye to illegal immigration benefits Americans who like low prices and who depend on low-wage workers to do the hard work we don't want to do ourselves. It benefits businesses who keep costs low by hiring illegal immigrants who can be shamelessly exploited without fear of reprisal. It benefits the folks on the political left who want a cause with a human face to espouse. It benefits the folks on the right who need a cause around which to rally their troops. And it benefits the human smugglers who prey on people whose only crime (before crossing the border illegally) may have been to want a better life for themselves and their families.

So what do we do about it? That's not hard - all it takes is a realization of the problem and the political and moral will to solve it. First, remove the need for people to enter this country illegally by creating a visa category for unskilled labor...make them legal. Second, crack down hard on those who hire illegal immigrants...remove the economic incentive to hire those who break the law. Third, immediately deport illegal immigrants whose nationality can be determined, or jail those who can't be so identified...make sure that there are consequences for being here illegally. Finally, and perhaps most important, if you are honestly concerned with the rights and welfare of those who break the law, don't perpetuate the problem by abbeting their illegal activity - channel your energy into pressing your government to deal honestly with the problem. Recognize that you do not help anyone or solve any problems just by protecting individuals who have broken the law. Make your case to change the law if you don't believe in it. Excerise your rights as a citizen of a nation based on the rule of law. Think about how we could better spend the money we now throw at a problem we all conspire to perpetuate.

The issue of those already here illegally for a long time is a separate issue, and we'll talk about that another time.

For the record, my paternal grandparents came to this country - legally - from Hungary after the First World War. My maternal relations came to this country - legally - from across Europe in the 1700s and 1800s. And my wife is a fully-legal, properly-documented, legally-employed immigrant alien.

Have a good day. Obey the law, or work to change it if you disagree with it. Do something useful.

My next post will be on Monday, when I'll let you know how Agnes and I fared in our ballroom dance competition that starts tomorrow. Cross your fingers for us.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Yesterday, one of my co-workers started an all-day round-robin e-mail exchange when he predicted that oil would reach $150 per barrel in 2007, that the economy would tank and our 401k's vanish in the wreckage...he wanted to know what we all thought he should invest his 401k savings in to avoid the disaster.

My immediate advice was to invest in bottled water and MRE's (packaged military field meals), but the discussion soon spun off in several of which was tax philosophy. Here's what I wrote on that topic (slightly edited for the blog):

"Are (taxes) too high? Don't know. In relation to government spending, probably not. Yes, I think we can reduce taxes, but first we need to consider a really important, and largely ignored, issue: what is the governnment's tax income used for?

"Considering it this way, I think it's irresponsible to talk about lowering taxes without getting a handle on government spending. And to do that, we need to ask ourselves what the government should be spending its income on. The preamble to the Constitution speaks to "...establish(ing) domestic tranquillity, provid(ing) for the common defense, promot(ing) the general welfare, (and) secur(ing) the blessings of liberty..." If, as I do, we accept these as the core responsibilities of the federal government, that means that we should expect the federal government to spend our tax money on (by category):

"Establish domestic tranquility: justice & public safety, national legislature, foreign relations.

"Provide for the common defense: military services and national-level homeland security.

"Promote the general welfare: public health and education, food and water safety, interstate transportation and commerce, foreign trade. (And) setting up a national crash program for energy independence.

"Secure the blessings of liberty: all of the above.

"What sorts of things don't appear (to me, anyway) to fall under the above? How about, for a start, most "pork" stuffed into spending bills (such as multi-million dollar bridges in Alaska, niche museums in congressional districts, etc)."

That's a small and, I grant you, out-of-context part of a much longer discussion. Other parts will appear in future blog posts. But you need to think about how your government spends your money. You've worked hard for it, and as a citizen you owe a part of it to the government for its legitimate needs. Should your Federal taxes pay for true, national-level needs that affect all of us, or should they pay for some Congressman's hometown pet project? Think about it. It's your duty as a citizen of this great nation. If you don't think hard about this, vote in every election, and let your elected representatives know what you're thinking, you have no right to complain when you don't like what's being done in your name, with your hard-earned dollars.

Have a good day. See you tomorrow.


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

There's a phrase that shows up lately everywhere you look. There are a few minor variations, but the basic phrase is, "rage and frustration in the Muslim world." Well, excuse me if I'm pretty tired of hearing it.

How about channeling all that "rage and frustration" into something useful? How about taking all those oil dollars and spending them on education systems that teach skills useful in the 21st century, instead of rote memorization of religious texts? How about recognizing that many of the causes of all that "rage and frustration" lie in their denial of reality and their insistence on blaming everyone but themselves for their problems? Is it possible that blind faith in a religious and social code that hasn't changed since the seventh century may not be the best way to achieve peace and prosperity in the 21st?

Muslims complain bitterly about American cultural and economic (and military) domination, but I don't see any effort on their part to do the thing that made that American domination possible: banding together to form a society in which people of every race, religion, and ethnic background cooperate to make life better for their children than it was for them. Is America a perfect society? Hardly. We still have lingering problems of ethnic and religious intolerance and economic inequality. But the last time I looked, people were risking their lives every day to enter American illegally in search of a better life. I haven't seen the same thing happening in Saudi Arabia or Syria or Afghanistan.

I have a lot more to say on the topic of blind religious faith and where it leads, but those are posts for another day. For now, let's just hope that, someday, all that "rage and frustration" can be focused on achieving something other than blind hatred. For the sake of those wonderful grandchildren I wrote about a few posts ago, I hope so.


Monday, March 13, 2006

We had a spectacular weekend here in Northern Virginia - the temperature on Saturday and Sunday was in the mid 70's, with glorious sunshine and very low humidity...the very best sort of day and the perfect remedy for low spirits coming out of the gray of late winter. I spent much of both days cleaning the old leaves and sticks out of the yard, getting ready for the spring that we all hope is just around the corner. I'm anxious to get my herb garden replanted, and to see how well all the landscaping we had done last summer weathered the winter.

What's your favorite season? I was ready to say that mine is Spring, because of the warming days, the sound of birds singing happily in the trees, and the sight of bare arms and legs on beautiful ladies again. But then, I love Summer, too, for the pleasure of working in the sun in the yard, enjoying the fruits of our garden and watching life go by. Fall has its own pleasures, as the morning air turns crisp and chilly and the leaves turn from green to the glorious rainbow of autumn colors. And even Winter (which can be pretty miserable around here, let me tell you), has its moments when you turn from the fire and look out the window at the unbroken expanse of a new snowfall, with the sun glittering on the crystals of ice like a million jewels.

So I guess I like all the seasons. But those bare arms and legs on the ladies certainly do give Spring and Summer an edge...

Have a good week. More thoughts tomorrow.


Sunday, March 12, 2006

It's said that nothing is certain except death and taxes. I talked about death a few days ago, so how about a few words on taxes?

Agnes and I met with the nice lady at H&R Block the other evening to review our final returns for the 2005 tax year, and were pleasantly surprised to find that we are getting substantial refunds both from the Federal Government and from Virginia. My first reaction was, "Great!" My second reaction was, "Gee, I sure could have used that money during the year." And my third reaction, as it is every year, was "It's wrong that I have to pay someone to do this for me."

I don't mind paying taxes. I recognize that government needs a source of revenue to operate and provide essential common services, and as a citizen, I'm responsible for paying my fair share. My only problem is that we no longer have a tax system that provides for running the government...we have a tax system that's designed for social engineering and the reward of special interests. The proliferation of deductions, rules, tables, alternatives, and other balderdash has turned our tax system into an impenetrable morass that the average citizen can't understand. And then, having made the system so complicated you can't understand it, our government imposes draconian penalties (and interest!) on you if you make any mistakes. We need an entire industry devoted to tax preparation and filing, along with various do-it-yourself software programs that helps you navigate the treacherous shoals of the tax system.

I could go on (and I will, in later posts), but for now, let's just say that I agree with the person (I think it may have been Ronald Reagan) who said that the country ought to have a tax system that looks like it was designed on purpose. And we ought to remember that that purpose is to provide the funds for the government to operate...not to pay for the needs and wants of special interests, however worthy they may or may not be.

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday. Don't do anything too ... uh ... taxing.


Saturday, March 11, 2006

My friend Jake and I have an ongoing argument over which of us has the most adorable grandchildren. Obviously, it's no contest.

Marcy will be six next month, and Joe will be three in July, and if there's anything more beautiful on the planet, I don't know what it is. Once you get past the constant volume (extra loud) and the constant level of energy (extremely high), you see these little turbocharged packages of love rocketing around and you can't help but feel good.

For those of you without grandchildren yet, it's hard to understand the feeling. You take pride in your children and their accomplishments, but there's something special about the grandchildren. I think it's that sense of a little bit of immortality that comes with knowing that a piece of you is living on ... that no matter how worn out and tired you feel (and I feel that a lot on some days!), part of you is still living in that joyous little bubble of time and space allotted to children, where everything is a wonder and each day is something new to be wrestled to the ground and enjoyed to the fullest. We lose that much too soon as we grow older and more cynical about the world around us. But it's great to know that, in spite of war and fear, skyrocketing property taxes and all-time record oil company profits, our grandchildren have that precious wedge of time when no worries cloud the horizon, life is there to be enjoyed, and the love gushes out in hugs and kisses and cuddles that make all the other problems of the world seem small.

Enjoy your weekend.


Friday, March 10, 2006

At the risk of sounding morbid, I think I know how I'm going to die.

When I go to work each day, I drive to a local shopping center, park in the lot designated for commuters, and walk the short distance to the subway (we call it the Metro here) for the trip to the office. It's a nice walk (unless it's raining or snowing), but there's a particularly dangerous six-lane intersection I have to cross. It's not so bad in the morning, but when I return in the afternoon, I have to cross four lanes of traffic to get to the median...and there's the problem. Two of those lanes turn right, and are governed by a turning arrow; when the lights are red, the rightmost lane can make a turn after a full stop. Yes, I bolded and italicized that, because although the law requires a full stop before the turn, drivers almost invariably come rocketing up to the light, glance briefly to the left, and then hurtle through the light without even looking to see if a pedestrian is present. Oh, and nine times out of ten those drivers are chattering happily into their cell phones.

So that's how I think I'll finally shuffle off my mortal coil - no matter how careful I try to be, I'll be run down as I cross the the intersection of Frontier Drive and Spring Mall Road by an idiot who isn't paying attention to his (or her) driving...and who just can't wait to have that critical telephone conversation.

I hope I'm wrong, but it looks like a good bet to me. Have a great weekend...if I manage to successfully navigate the dreaded intersection again today, I'll post another random comment tomorrow.


Thursday, March 09, 2006

Well, it's Thursday - one more day and it'll be Friday, which for me means the opportunity to dance.

As you will learn as this blog unfolds, my wife and I enjoy ballroom dancing - Agnes teaches it, so I was pretty much forced to learn ballroom dance many years ago. After all, what does it say about the teacher if her husband can't dance? This, of course, puts a certain amount of pressure on me to dance well, because people look at my skill as a reflection of Agnes' ability to teach. The ugly secret is that she doesn't try to teach me - because when she does, we tend to fight (same principle as the rule about never teaching your spouse to drive, I guess). It seems that I'll take instruction and correction from almost anyone else better than I will take it from Agnes. Go figure.

But be that as it may, every Friday night we dance at the school where Agnes teaches and I take my lessons. The school offers a practice party at which we can spend two hours enjoying each other's company and the chance to dance with other partners. No matter how tired I am at the end of a work week, I get my second wind on the dance floor. And who could possibly object to spending two hours in the company of many beautiful ladies?

My favorite dance? Tango, without question. A dance of snap and fire, with plenty of opportunity to insert your own personality and styling. In second place, Waltz. A beautiful and elegant dance that really gives a man the opportunity to show off his partner.

Oops...time to get ready to go to work. More about dancing (and other topics) in future posts. Stay tuned.


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Hello, and welcome to the first entry in Bilbo's Random Thought Collection! There are only about twenty gazillion blogs out there in cyberspace, so why should I add one more? Two main reasons:

First, because I like to write, and I think I have something to say that may be of interest (or at least, entertainment) to my friends.

Second, because I need a creative outlet...a place to put down my thoughts and ideas about life in general.

Because I am dealing in random thoughts, my posts will be all over the topical map. If a particular post doesn't interest you, feel free to stop reading and skip to the next one, or visit another blog. Some of what I post may surprise you, anger you, or even offend you...but I hope to entertain you and to make you think. You are welcome to add your own comments when you don't have to agree with me, but I expect thoughtful and well-reasoned comments that are worth the time spent in reading.

So welcome to my random thought collection. I'll try to add something every day when I can. Enjoy your visit and come back again soon.