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Monday, February 16, 2004


"Well, that's annoying."

I was on my hands and knees, carefully pushing speaker wire under the carpet, and trying to make some expensive surround sound speakers work with a nearly-obsolete stereo system. I was about three inches too short of speaker wire. The dog was annoyed because the NASCAR race on TV was now blaring through the rear speakers in the living room and disrupting her puppy nap. I was annoyed because I suspected I might get called to the carpet (you're already on the carpet, son) by my wife for prominently displaying a stereo speaker. She has a thing about "focal points."

An hour or so earlier, the leader of the free world was on TV, decked out in a NASCAR jacket. On the right breast of the jacket, someone had monogrammed "George W. Bush." Underneath the name, presumably the same person had embroidered the word "President." At the time, I was not yet impressed by the surround sound blaring racing engines from four different directions in my living room and couldn't help but laugh at how ludicrous the situation seemed. Here's the leader of our country, the commander in chief, the most recognizable man (maybe next to Justin Timberlake or Carson Daly) in all of America, and we're embroidering the word "president" under his name...on a NASCAR jacket. Beautiful.

Later that night, I was experimenting with rosemary (leaving out the sage and thyme) in my fried chicken breading. Mixed with a little marjoram, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, etc., it makes for a fantastic seasoning. I like to fry it in peanut oil instead of vegetable oil. Mashed potatoes, country gravy, greenbeans cooked with some sort of pork product in them. As I cooked, the popping of the peanut oil and the boiling potatoes drowned out the Democratic Presidential Debate on MSNBC. In Wisconsin, most of the candidates were firing their final shots at the guy in the NASCAR jacket and lining up to plant a big kiss on John Kerry's hindquarters. The crowd was clapping for Kucinich and Sharpton, but not as much for the man dubbed front-runner or those hoping for cabinet positions (Attorney General John Edwards? Secretary of Being Pissed at the Media Howard Dean?). I went back to frying the chicken and wondering how I could make the meal more fattening.

Later that night I found myself tossing and turning again, staring at the ceiling and counting the dollars left in my bank account.

It was only when I came into work today that I found the perspective I really needed.

That's a picture at the farthest visible spot in space. It's a bit what life was like 750 million years ago. We can only see it with two telescopes, one in Hawaii and one in space. Oh, and because of some weird quirk of physics that allows the gravitation forces of another galaxy to magnify things beyond it several times.

Or something like that.

All of that taken together makes me wonder if it would be such a big deal if the NASCAR President saw the surround sound speaker as a focal point of the living room, and if he did, if it would bother him so much that he wouldn't enjoy a good chicken dinner with John Kerry in my living room.


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