What You Will

Another Burma Shave billboard on the information superhighway. Random thoughts about arts, faith, culture, music, language, literature, and the shortcomings of the Hegelian dialectic. (OK, just kidding about that last bit.)

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Location: Edmonds, Washington, United States

I wonder what goes in this space?


Vanity Fair edits Palin

Editors at Vanity Fair, evidently lacking anything more constructive to do, have produced a marked-up version of Sarah Palin's painfully rambling resignation speech. It's an instructive example of the editor's art, demonstrating conclusively that the best way to improve a piece of writing is often to knock out a few words.

However, there is at least one thing Palin got wrong that Vanity Fair failed to correct. On the last page of the transcript, Palin refers to Alaska's new lieutenant governor, Craig Campbell, as "Lieutenant General." Well, he may indeed be the new lieutenant governor, but in the military he's [the very model of] a [modern] major general. Do I get a king salmon for that catch?


Houston, we have a problem

I've seen the seventh circle of hell, and it looks like a bagel

Being the possessor of a free sandwich coupon from Noah's Bagels, I thought today might be a fine time to redeem it. So I stopped into Noah's on Queen Anne Sunday after church, with my wife and kid in tow. The wife wanted a corned beef sandwich; I ordered pastrami.

When I presented the coupon to the young lady at the cash register, the very first word she uttered, under her breath, was "Shit!" She stepped away and conferred for a few minutes with the gentleman who'd taken my order. Upon returning to the cash register, she explained that there was some sort of ongoing goofup with the expiration date on these coupons, but that the store would honor the coupon anyhow. (I checked the printed expiration date; it was Dec. 31, 2010.) She wore a name tag with the sobriquet "Houston"; I considered asking whether she had a sister named Whitney, but decided that would be in poor taste.

After a few minutes the sandwiches were furnished, and consumption proceeded. After a couple of bites I examined my sandwich and opined to my wife that although the portion was generous and the flavor was good, what I had received was corned beef, not pastrami. We compared sandwiches and the meat in mine looked identical to that in hers: the wrong color, flavor and seasoning for pastrami, and almost completely devoid of black pepper. However, not wishing to upset the Noah's applecart, I decided to enjoy the sandwich for what it was, and kept eating.

If you buy cold cuts in a grocery store, they often come in a plastic blister pack, which may have a hole punched in it so the pack can be hung on a peg. Sometimes the bit of plastic that formerly occupied said hole may be found still clinging to the blister pack. And once in a great while, I suppose, that bit of plastic could end up in someone's corned beef sandwich. It must not happen very often — I've eaten thousands of sandwiches in my life that were free of plastic bits — but apparently it does happen. Or, I should say, it did happen. I removed the plastic bit from my mouth, put it in the paper-lined basket next to the second half of my sandwich, and while finishing the first half I contemplated what to do next.

The wrong meat in a sandwich was one thing, I decided. Foreign objects were another. I lodged a complaint at the counter, and Houston promised to make me a new pastrami sandwich. I returned to my seat, but after a couple of minutes she beckoned me back to the counter. Turns out the store was out of pastrami, and the genius who'd made the sandwich in the first place decided to just substitute corned beef without telling me. Houston asked what kind of meat I'd prefer in the place of pastrami, and I chose roast beef.

The new sandwich came, minus any stray bits of plastic, and also minus the tasty dill pickle that had accompanied the first sandwich, which I hadn't eaten before I returned it. I shrugged off the pickle, ate half the new sandwich, wrapped up the other half for later, and went home. But here's the kicker: Remember, I had gotten the first sandwich with a coupon. Want to know how I got the coupon? At the same Noah's, a week earlier, I had ordered another pastrami sandwich, using a coupon Noah's had sent me by e-mail. On that occasion, the young gentleman at the counter TOLD me the store was out of pastrami BEFORE he made the sandwich, and substituted chicken breast at my request ... THEN he came to our table and gave me two coupons to compensate for the absence of pastrami. I didn't catch his name, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't Houston.

If you're good at math, you already know that I have one coupon left, meaning that Noah's has one more chance to get it right. Here's a thought: if a store runs out of pastrami by 1:30 p.m. two Sundays running, perhaps the manager needs to order more pastrami for Sundays. We'll see if anyone has figured this out by the time I get back there.


What they didn't tell you about Honduras

I have a couple of friends in Honduras doing relief and missionary work. Here's part of an e-mail I got from one of them regarding the recent coup:

The president of Honduras was behind the election that was supposed to happen last Sunday. Basically he wanted to "revisit" the constitution and change the one term presidential limit.

Last Thursday the Supreme Court handed down the decision for the second time that the election was unconstitutional. The president fired the head of the military the same day. The entire armed forces immediately resigned in respect for their leader. Chavez, president of Venezula announced he would send his troops in. (Uh oh). Then, the president HIMSELF breaks through the army base entrance, goes to the building where the ballots are stored, breaks in HIMSELF, and he and his supporters load the ballots up in the car and drive away with them. This is all on the news. They do not arrest him as we think they are trying to keep peace.

Friday the Supreme Court restores the head of the military to his rightful position and the military is back on board. The president says publicly that his military leader looks like a gorilla. We also hear that the ballot boxes are half full, which everyone finds amusing since the election is not until Sunday! Meanwhile, schools are closed on Friday and some on Monday. Newspapers and radio are telling everyone to stay home on Sunday. Churches and businesses are closed as well.

We awoke to no electricity Sunday morning, not a good sign, then heard that the president had been arrested at his home and flown to Costa Rica. It was peaceful, no bloodshed. We were sad about this decision because he did legally have 6 more months to serve. He had totally lost the support of the Supreme Court, Congress, the military and his power was dwindling rapidly.

They did find $300,000 dollars (in Honduran lempira) on his desk in his office the day the arrested him. This was for bribes for votes. His supporters go to poor areas and ask everyone to give their personal ID card so they can vote for them. They vote, then return the card with $25 which is a huge amount of money, esp for people who cannot read and whose lives will not change regardless of the election. Not exactly the democracy one hopes for.

The Speaker of the House was sworn in as president until January 27, 2010. Elections are held in November. He immediately announced a curfew from 9 pm until 6 am. Meanwhile world opinions have been swift, that the old president needs to be restored to his rightful position. The old president is saying that he will return soon to Honduras along with some leaders of other countries and head of the OAS. The new president says if he comes he will be arrested. The Honduran Congress stated they ousted the old president because of disregard for the constitution, the law and the institutions. Right now it seems things are at a stalemate.
Wow. I'm not a news junkie, but I'm pretty sure the American news media that I do attend to (mostly NPR) haven't reported those details. It's hard to feel much sympathy for President Zelaya in light of this report. Yes, a military coup is not the preferred way to get rid of a president, but (a) it could have been worse—Zelaya should thank his lucky stars he's not Joao Bernardo Vieira; (b) this apparently is a president who had severely overstepped his authority. What do you suppose would happen to a U.S. president who ignored two Supreme Court orders and tried to buy an illegal election? Impeachment in the blink of an eye, that's what.

Unless some kind of resolution is found, the real losers will be the people of Honduras, who stand to lose hundreds of millions in aid if the country is kicked out of the OAS, as threatened.