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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Fringeville Edition #43, November 24 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

There are a zillion and one things I could whine about. But I've got my health. I've got my family. My hearing has been restored. I'm spending more time with my grandson. It's my first Thanksgiving in decades where I'll be with my family instead of scheduling everything around work. (I've only worked in two industries in the last 32 years: healthcare and food service. Neither industry is a Monday-to-Friday business).

And today we're pissing off the Department of Homeland Security and deep-frying a turkey in the back yard.

Turkey, a plethora of side dishes, and the opportunity to tick off the Gubbermint... sounds like a day in paradise...


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Fringeville Edition #42, November 20 2011

I am now unemployed for the second full day. Let’s recap, starting from Friday the 18th:


I went in to work earlier than usual, because it was the last day there. I wanted to get as much done as possible to ease the transition for the folks I left behind. The plan was to work until 1PM. Maybe 2PM.

My wife was skeptical. For good reason: She’s had 16 years of me saying, “…I’m leaving early…” only to have me show up at home god knows when.

It was a wild, hectic last day. There were many wonderful moments. I left behind folks I love. They knew how to warm my heart. They gave me a Buffalo wing kit and a wing-themed goodbye cake.

They also made sure I had something to wash the wings and cake down with: A nice bottle of Fat Bastard Cabernet Sauvignon.

I picked up the missus after work, and we headed over to Bo Brothers in Wyoming where a proper send-off awaited me. There were chicken wings in abundance and variety. I sampled them all. I enjoyed several Yuengling drafts, some scrumptious pizza and a couple of mugs of Guinness (yes, the missus had the keys).

Things are hazy after that until Saturday morning,


I woke up surprisingly refreshed.

I took the missus and my daughter up to the Bear Creek Café for lunch. The food, as always, was terrific. We landed my favorite table in the back with a view of the creek. It was a wonderful lunch. As an aside, one of my litmus tests for grading restaurants is the bathrooms. (I can’t call them “restrooms.” I don’t nap in there. It’s more like the drive-thru at the bank than anything. I make a deposit and skedaddle.) If the bathroom is well-maintained, I assume the kitchen is as well. The bathrooms at the Bear Creek Café are cleaner than those in most houses.

Back at home, I spent a carefree afternoon watching Penn State beat Ohio State. I watched TV for the rest of the evening and shuffled off to bed, wondering if all my weekends were going to start this way. For the past 32 years, I’ve worked weekends regularly. How would I adapt to having weekends off for a while?


Shortly before waking on Sunday, I dreamed people were coming up to me at my desk at work, asking for help. My screen was blank. I told each in turn, “Sorry. I’ve been deleted. I don’t exist anymore.”

Well, that woke me up. I certainly did exist. And I had things to do. And I started doing them, nice and early, to the annoyance of my wife, the sane one, who was trying to sleep.

I did bookkeeping. I emptied and filled the dishwasher. I cleaned the fridge.

All the noise forced my wife out of bed.

“You’re going to drive me insane now, aren’t you?” she sighed.

I cooked breakfast as an effort to apologize. Then I decided to do about a dozen other things, and here I sit on Sunday evening still whacking away at things.

I’m just not good with free time…

* * *


Monday, November 7, 2011

Fringeville Edition #41, November 07 2011

Is the moral compass broken in Happy Valley?

Increasingly, it appears so.

If the allegations are proven, a number of people could have/should have:

1)     Directly intervened to stop children from being sexually abused
2)     Picked up the phone to call the police
3)     Gone all the way to the Governor (and to the media) if their superiors in law enforcement or government refused to act

And the person with the most moral authority fulfilled his legal obligations and went no further.

I’ve turned this around in my head a dozen different ways. Joe Paterno may have done what was required by reporting an incident to his boss. But he was uniquely positioned to do so much more. He fell short. It is one of humanity’s recurrent themes: Our heroes often fail us. But few fail us as spectacularly as this.

JoePa is done.

In a matter of days, a lifetime of achievement and the reputation of a major university have been lost. It is modern Greek tragedy, with Paterno and Penn State undone by what would have seemed inconceivable just days ago: a broken moral compass.

* * *


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Fringeville Edition #40, November 05 2011

The LuLac blog ran a post today in which the Yonk blistered the GOP for “Greed Over People.”

The trigger for the post was the Democratic-controlled Senate’s inability to pass the infrastructure bill on Thursday night. The sticky point was a .7% tax increase on those who earn over a million dollars a year.

The bill failed, of course.

In fact, I believe it was designed to fail.


Because it is not "Greed Over People" we saw the other night. It's plain old "Politics over People."

In this case, Senator Reid & Co. had to know this bill would not pass (even though their party controls the Senate). It didn’t matter. They were playing politics and trying to score points against Republicans.

You see, it’s the game that matters in D.C. folks, and both parties are playing it. They find the third rail for the other side, include it in legislation, and blame the other party for not caring about working Americans when it crashes and burns.

It is an absolutely bass-ackwards way of doing things. It is politics first, people second. It's getting worse, and nothing is being accomplished.

Who benefits from all this bluster and posturing?

Certainly not mainstream America.

As to the "big two," America is changing right under their noses and their national leadership seems largely oblivious to it. Or, worse, they just don't care. After all, there are points to be scored in a game where political power wins and the American people lose.

How does that Bob Marley song go?

...Every day the bucket goes to the well...
But one day the bottom will drop out..."

* * *

I ate my birthday meal and sat down to read the Grand Jury Findings of Fact against former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky. (Sandusky retired from Penn State in 1999)

My birthday meal almost came back up.

It is twenty-three pages of graphic documentation of alleged sexual activity with children by the former Nittany Lion assistant coach. (Sandusky was arrested on 40 criminal counts on Saturday and is out on $100,000 bail.)

As disturbing …no, horrifying …as the Grand Jury document is, it gets worse. Athletic director Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, a vice president at the university, were charged with perjury based on their testimony to the Grand Jury.

The only person who seems to have done the right thing was head coach Joe Paterno. In March, 2002 a graduate assistant told Paterno he had witnessed Sandusky and a young boy in a shower. Paterno reported the incident to Athletic Director Curley. (Sandusky was no longer an employee of the university in 2002, but had access to all football facilities).

The Grand Jury found the graphic, stomach-turning testimony by the graduate assistant on that incident to be “extremely credible.”

But Curley told the Grand Jury the shower incident was just some “horsing around.”

Mr. Schultz indicated some private body parts might have been inadvertently grabbed while Sandusky was wrestling with the boy.

I can think of no honorable circumstances under which a grown man and a boy should wrestle in a shower and bump private body parts. But that’s not what the graduate assistant testified he saw, and what he says he saw I won’t repeat here. Feel free to read the testimony but do it on an empty stomach.

The University did not report the incident to the police. Instead, Sandusky was forbidden to bring young people onto the campus.

Meanwhile Penn State President Graham Spanier has publicly given his “unconditional support” for Curley and Schultz.

I did find an intriguing paragraph on page 16 of the finding:

“…Victim 4 remembers Sandusky being emotionally upset after having a meeting with Joe Paterno in which Paterno told Sandusky he would not be the next head coach at Penn State and which preceded Sandusky’s retirement. Sandusky told Victim 4 not to tell anyone about the meeting. That meeting occurred in May, 1999.”

A popular theory at the time was that Sandusky was next in line for Paterno’s job. It appears based on that paragraph that Paterno pulled out the rug on Sandusky. Only Sandusky and Paterno know why.

Sandusky left Penn State after the 1999 season to focus on his “Second Mile” charity program, designed to help troubled boys. It was boys from that program who were allegedly victimized.

I should also note that eight victims are listed in the finding, with the eighth victim’s identity being unknown. Some of these incidents took place before Sandusky retired in 1999. During an investigation in 1998, Sandusky admitted to showering with one victim and was advised by University Police Detective Ronald Shreffler “…not to shower with any child again.” 

Honest to gosh, you can't make stuff like this up.

An investigator for the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare was also present. Sandusky said he’d stop showering with kids.

You know what, folks? This is going to get one hell of a lot worse. This story is as bad as it gets.

* * *


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fringeville Edition #39, November 02 2011

A very brief post...

Here's the link to PA's restricting site:

It's got interactive maps that show proposed districts all the way down to the municipal level, and you can zoom to street level if you need to.

Have fun...


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fringeville Edition #38, November 01 2011

I lost three prime door-knocking days over the last two weekends.

I did get in a full afternoon of door-to-door in Plains on Saturday the 22nd.  But I lost Sunday the 23rd due to working a double.

This past weekend, I lost Saturday to the early snowstorm. My knees have had multiple surgeries over the years and I simply can’t do walks in ice or snow. I’ve also got OI, so a fall for me is probably something broken (and I’m overdue to break something. It’s been years since I’ve broken anything, largely because I’m very careful).

I hoped to make up some ground on Sunday, and instead had to travel to Allentown to reboot a switch. I got home shortly before 10PM, and that shot another day of door-to-door straight to heck.

It’s been one thing after the other since June, but for some reason I feel like I just might pull this out even though it seems impossible for me to campaign.

* * *

I mentioned a trip to Allentown. Since I hadn’t eaten at all that day, I decided to pick up fast food on the way home. We do a fair amount of takeout in the O’Meara household, but it tends to be pizza, Chinese, or stromboli.

Well, I had a hankering for a burger.

I spotted a place I like (I can’t mention the name, because for a few more weeks I’m still in the food business). I hadn’t had one of their burgers in a long time, and I think they make one of the best in the business.

I went inside. Just two people in front of me. Six minutes later, I was standing in the same spot, the same two people in front of me, and no one at the counter.

But outside, the drive-thru was going like gangbusters. Car after car pulled up to the window, picked up their orders, and left.

That ticked me off.

Here’s how I see it: folks at the counter should always get the preference. We made the effort to leave our cars and walk INTO the restaurant. That earns a nod. We burned some calories to get inside. We braved the rain, the cold, the scorching sun, hail, meteor showers, tornadoes… so we’re extra hungry.

We’ll probably buy more food, too, because we can look at the menu right up until the second we order, versus being in the drive-thru lane and having to read it quickly before the S.O.B. in the Toyota starts laying on the horn.

I turned and walked out.

Two miles down the road, I found another famous burger chain. I went inside. I got my food and was in the car in less than two minutes. And the food was just plain awful. The cheeseburger tasted synthetic. The fries, no longer bathed in tasty trans-fat oil and dusted with salt, had the flavor and consistency of chewy cardboard.

My only consolation was that the drive-thru was backed up.

One bright spot: They had Dr. Pepper. I sipped that puppy all the way home…

* * *