Monday, April 28, 2008

Insanity at the Pumps

what a difference 10 years makes...

Like a lot of Lowcountry denizens, and just like a huge block of the American populace as a whole, I have a hefty commute to work in the wee hours of the morning. My personal commute begins at 3:00 AM when I turn the key, fire up the XM radio feed, and glide through the darkness on 17-A from Walterboro to what seems like my home away from home deep in the heart of North Charleston’s Industrial Wastelands. Before I got transferred to the main Charleston plant from our satellite branch in Walterboro, my commute was nothing; I live 5 minutes from the branch and I used to fill up once a month. Now, unfortunately, I fill up every 4 days or so, using about ¼ tank a day. Most often, I fill up at about 3 in the morning on Friday, and I end up having to add a little to the tank to make it home Thursday afternoon, sometimes Wednesday, just enough to make it home to start the process all over again. The drive to work is just over 43 miles each way, so you do the math: I drive about 1600 miles a month just to get to and from work, not counting the gas burned sitting in that Mongolian Goat Rope known as Traffic On Dorchester Road Between King’s Grant And Bacon’s Bridge Road.

So, with that said, is it any wonder I get sick to my stomach every time I look at the price signs at gas stations? Each day I get that knot in my bowels as the price climbs higher and higher. Pretty soon I’ll be forced to look closer to home for a job, but there’s damnably few opportunities in Colleton County that pay what I’m making with my current employer, and I can’t afford to take any real pay cuts. And here in the Lowcountry we’re getting slightly better gas prices than are being seen elsewhere in the nation, so others have it even worse than we do here. We’re all feeling the pinch. I know I’m not alone. Higher fuel costs have jacked up the price of almost all consumer goods. A 12-pack of cheap Wal-Mart cola has gone up a good 40 cents in the past 6 months. A frozen entrĂ©e that my wife liked to take to work for lunch went up aalmost 65 cents a package in the span of a month. You name the item, it’s gone up: milk, cheese, bread, all the yummy basics. It’s gotten to where most American families are having to adjust their menu choices because of rising costs, and literally re-structure their entire family budgets around the cost of gas. I shudder to think at how many family vacations will be cancelled this year. I mean, who can afford the sky-high airfares? That leaves driving as the alternative, but who can afford the gas to just drive to a destination instead?

As of last week, California is home to the nation's highest average gas price, $3.87 for regular unleaded; diesel is pushing $4.43 a gallon, according to Troy Green, with AAA.

Here is a glimpse of prices across the state, according to AAA as of April 23:
•San Francisco $3.97 per gallon; last year $3.47
• Los Angeles $3.85; last year $3.32
• San Jose $3.89; last year $3.36
• Sacramento $3.86; last year $3.30
• San Diego $3.88; last year $3.35

San Francisco is the most expensive city, averaging $3.97 a gallon. However, a drive around the city shows many stations have jumped over $4.00. The national average for regular unleaded is $3.53 and rising daily. Last year at this time, it was $2.86 per gallon. According to AAA, 24 states and the District of Columbia are averaging at or above $3.50 a gallon for regular unleaded. The state with the lowest gas is New Jersey, at $3.34 per gallon. No wonder some Californians are hopping the border to Mexico to fill up on gasoline that a couple weeks ago was averaging $2.64 a gallon.

My PT Cruiser has a 15-gallon tank. I used a calculator I found embedded in an article at that figured out how many hours you need to work to pay for a tank of gas based upon your pay rate and the given price of gas, which was $3.38 a gallon. Seems that at the time, I needed to work over 3.57 hours to get a tank of gas at $50.70. For those of you who drive a dainty little Prius, it’s still costing you $40.22 to fill that 11.9-gallon tank. And for those of you with a fuel-whore Hummer H2, that 32-gallon tank is costing $108.16 to fill, at a ponderous average of 10-13 miles per gallon. Or is that feet per gallon? Oh wait…a lot of you drive Uber-Whore vehicles that demand Premium Gas. Better start panning for gold in the local streams…

So, what to do? That’s the question.

How about we open up the north slope of the ANWR to drilling? The ANWR (Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge, pronounced “Anwar”) has a huge supply of oil ready to be drilled, estimated at between 4 billion and 10 billion barrels’ worth. Yeah, I’m not exactly keen on disrupting a national wildlife area with oil drilling either, but we really need to do something to get things under control. How about doing more drilling in the Gulf of Mexico? Last May it was widely reported Chevron and two oil exploration companies announced the discovery of a giant oil reserve in the Gulf of Mexico that could boost the nation's supplies by as much as 50 percent and provide compelling evidence oil is a plentiful deep-earth product made naturally on a continuous basis. Known as the Jack Field, the reserve is estimated to hold as much as 15 billion barrels of oil. Chevron discovered the field some 270 miles southwest of New Orleans by drilling the deepest to date in the Gulf of Mexico, down 28,175 feet in waters nearly 7,000 feet deep, some seven miles below the surface of the Earth.

Also, last year reports started circulating that Chinese firms are planning to slant drill off the Cuban coast about 45 miles from Key West in the Florida Straits, tapping into U.S. oil reserves (Oh, wait, isn’t that the Jack Field?) that we aren’t tapping into ourselves due to Florida’s strict state laws that won’t allow drilling off the Florida coast. As China increases its reach around the world it is seeking oil, which it lacks domestically. China is eager to tap into oil reserves in the Florida Straits and then make a deal with Cuba to control it. The Chinese have already reopened an abandoned Russian oil refinery in Cuba. Much of the gas refined there is believed to be destined for Freeport in the Bahamas, where the Chinese, through a front company called Hutchison-Whampoa, have developed a massive port facility and airfield. With the refinery reopened and expanded it will also meet the needs of Cuba, cash- and energy-strapped since the Soviets pulled out in the early 90's. Chinese drilling will be even more of an environmental hazard since China is not as concerned about or equipped to deal with any potential ecological disaster as a result of a spill, as evidenced by how polluted their own capital of Beijing is. China is in a mad scramble to try and clean things up a bit before the Olympics this summer. My heart really goes out to the athletes who’ll have to try and breathe in that noxious cloud of crap surrounding the city.

And last week I heard that America is sitting on top of a massive oil field that could potentially make America energy-independent from foreign oil, and until now has largely gone unnoticed. Thanks to new technology, the Bakken Formation that covers North Dakota and portions of South Dakota and Montana could eventually boost America’s oil reserves by an incredible 10 times, giving western economies a boost against OPEC’s short leash on the oil supply and making threats of disrupted supply by hostile nations like Iran and Venezuela pretty much irrelevant.

The USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) released a new report giving an accurate resource assessment of the Bakken Oil Formation, claiming that at this time there is about 4.3 billion barrels of recoverable oil, but it is hoped that new horizontal drilling technology coming available, it is believed that from 175 to 500 billion barrels of recoverable oil are held in this 200,000 square mile reserve that was initially discovered in 1951. The USGS did an initial study back in 1999 that estimated 400 billion recoverable barrels were present but with prices bottoming out at $10 a barrel back then the report was dismissed because of the higher cost of horizontal drilling techniques that would be needed, estimated at $20-$40 a barrel. The current price of oil teeters around $119.00 a barrel, and that makes it pretty cost-effective now to try it. The oil itself is compressed in shale rock, and a good portion of the vein is under a huge lake, so new drilling techniques have had to be developed to get to the oil and be able to extract it. I’ve read somewhere that America imports 14 million barrels of oil, so if we cut off foreign imports totally, we’ll go through a potential 200 billion barrels in just under 40 years. Scary to think we go through that much, actually, but if we do decide to opt for cutting the foreign-oil stranglehold we can maintain our independence while using the time to develop alternative energy sources before we run our own reserves dry.

And while we’re at it, put a couple new refineries up there to do something with that oil instead of pipelining it to the Gulf Coast to be refined. It’s been 32 years since we last built a refinery in this country, y’know.

However, I somehow think that we’ll bend over and let OPEC shaft us some more to placate our “friends” in the Middle East, and we’ll never make serious attempts at large-scale alternative energy source usage because the multi-gajillion-dollar Big Awl™ companies will never….EVER…..allow their sky-high profits to go to the wayside.

I copied down a pie chart that I saw in an issue of Maxim Magazine back when gas was only $3.18 a gallon in the fall and I reproduced it here in a larger format, showing you where that $3.18 actually goes:

4¢--Gas station credit card fees—Gas station owners don’t really make money on the gas itself after paying AMEX, Visa, and MasterCard for the privilege of letting you pay 14% interest on that expensive gas. That’s why you pay 3 bucks a bottle for tap water with a fancy label.

4¢--Gas station property fees—They have to pay for that building with Third World restrooms somehow.

4¢--Gas station payroll—Because that surly employee who cleans that Third World bathroom once a year doesn’t work for free, right?

20¢--Federal taxes—The Feral Gummint ™ has to pay for the Global War on Terror and bridges to uninhabited corners of Alaska without holding a bake sale.

21¢--State taxes—Expect higher rates in California, where tree-hugging liberals use the money to pay for those Granola-head environmental laws.

33¢--Distribution and Marketing—This includes getting the gas to the consumer, and for cool ads that make you think that they donate more than 1/1000 of 1% of their profits to the environment.

53¢--Crude oil costs—World demand is so high that most oil-producing countries are generating way beyond OPEC limits and they just keep jacking the per-barrel price daily.

73¢--Refining costs—US refineries have been operating, so we’re told, at near-peak capacity. And with every hurricane, equipment failure or butterfly wing flappage, the supply drops and prices skyrocket.

$1.06--Crude oil PROFIT—One could conservatively reckon that the oil companies were breaking even back when crude was just $25.00 a barrel. With prices now at almost $120.00 a barrel, a massive chunk of it is pure profit for Big Awl™, which explains why four sheiks have recently built luxury yachts over 450 feet long, and one is spending over half a billion clams on a flying palace, as I covered here:

(By the way, a US Navy Burke-class guided missile destroyer is only about 50 feet longer than those yachts.)

Monday, April 21, 2008

REPOST: Crossing The Thin Blue Line

One of New York's Finest, setting a fine example....

NOTE: I normally don't repost stuff I've already written, especially after a year has gone by. Then again, I normally don't get a blog comment a full year after I've posted a blog either.

A few days ago I received an anonymous comment on a blog I did that I knew was going to generate some bad feelings from the law enforcement community, but since I myself am a former law enforcement officer I felt that what I had to say was relevant. But this comment was sent to me anonymously, which I think is a cowardly chump's way to do it, especially since all this guy wanted to do was bad-mouth me without just cause. His comment smacks of a young, immature kid with a lot of growing up to do.

Look, I spent 4 years an an MP in the Army. My ex father-in-law's a cop. I have a lot of friends who are current and former law enforcement and I whole-heartedly support cops everywhere. But I don't condone crappy attitudes and flagrant abuse of authority, nor should anyone.

I'm including the original blog, along with the one comment that was originally posted with it, and the comment that my old Army buddy Dan Jeffries posted back to me when I put my blog up on MySpace. The final comment will be from this new anonymous mouth, followed by my final commentary.

FROM APRIL 11, 2007

Last week, while enroute to Savannah, Dougherty County police officer Jeremiah Fenn, aged 25, took his eyes off the road for a second to look at his cruiser’s on-board computer screen. In that second, he rear-ended a rental trailer being towed on Interstate 16. The resulting crash killed 33-year old Milton Wilcox and seriously injured his father. Ironically, Officer Fenn was driving to participate in a safe-driving campaign.

While tragic, this incident doesn’t exactly surprise me. Every day I watch as my local municipal, county, and state constabularies drive about town breaking all manner of traffic safety laws, all the while not only expecting you and I to obey the laws unerringly but also to pay the price for failure to do so.

Roughly 90% of the time I drive past a cop, he or she has a cell phone up to their ear busily yapping away on what ostensibly must be personal affairs, since the officer has that wonderful radio and computer uplink system in the car with which to handle official police business. Roughly 90% of the time I see a police officer make a turn or a lane change, their state-of-the-art police cruiser mysteriously lacks turn signals. And as a rule, our law enforcement personnel drive well above the posted speed limits and will mercilessly tailgate you if unable to immediately blow past you.

And the shining example of New Jersey Governor Corzine's state trooper driver doing over 90 mph (and Corzine not wearing a seatbelt) when they crashed all over the Jersey Turnpike.....yeah, that's setting a great example.

So much for leading by example. The unspoken rule is do as I say, not as I do, for I am the law and therefore above the law. This behavior also extends past the on-duty time and extends to their personal driving too. Many officers take their cruisers home and use them to run errands and take the kids to soccer practice and hit Wal-Mart for toilet paper. It’s common knowledge that apartment complexes and smaller housing developments clamor for cops to live there so that the take-home cruisers will act as some sort of miraculous crime deterrent. Some complexes even give discounted rents as an incentive, which to me smacks of a kickback and conflict of interest. But for those who drive their own private vehicles, there exists a sort of Get Out Of Jail Free Card system that a cop can use to identify their vehicles to others of the community so that they can speed and do as they please at will without fear of retribution or consequence. This system consists of specialized Law Enforcement license plates and the omnipresent Thin Blue Line stickers. The stickers are a black rectangle with a royal blue stripe in the center, and occasionally they appear as a front plate too in states that have only a mandated rear plate. In South Carolina, officers can get a thin blue line sticker in the shape of the ubiquitous palmetto tree. How very clever.

In years past, many folks would donate to various police charities just to get a badge-shaped window sticker in hopes that any cops stopping them for a violation would be swayed into letting them go. This same attitude applies to the use of L.E. license plates and TBL stickers. It’s an Old Boy network at the very simplest level; only in the police world it’s called Professional Courtesy. I say, old chap, you wouldn’t give a ticket to a fellow badge that’s “on the job”, would you? That wouldn’t be sporting cricket…On Easter Sunday I had my doors blown off by a giant SUV with North Carolina L.E. tags who was doing about 50 in a 35. By the time we made it to a 50 mph zone, he was doing nearly 65, and only used his turn signals 50% of the time as he weaved in and out of traffic. He then pulled off the road and into the parking lot of a hotel. So this whole attitude of speeding and only following the rules when convenient trickles over into personal time as well as professional time.

As a former law-enforcement professional myself, it saddens me to see this sort of flaunting behavior. And as a CDL-licensed driver who is constantly being lectured to about safe driving and following the rules, I find it especially galling to think that I could be ticketed by people who by far break more laws daily than I could ever dream of.

Comment by Jay:
I have always been appalled at how police break more traffic laws (and, presumably, other laws as well) than anyone else on the road. It always seemed to me that it should be okay for a police officer to break the speed limit, tailgate, change lanes without signaling, or violate other traffic laws ONLY when they have the lights flashing for official police business.

Police officers are supposed to embody the principals of the Rule of Law - their continued existence means that we don't have government hitmen shooting us in our homes at night for any perceived offense. But the Rule of Law is severely undermined when the agents who are supposed to uphold it act as though they are not themselves subject to it. And when the Law becomes the plaything of tyrants... well, then, we have nothing short of tyranny.

The traffic violations are relatively minor in the grand scheme of things, but they are absolutely representative of a problem that is endemic to law enforcement in America.

Comment by Dan Jeffries:
I understand where you were going with this blog. As a veteran Law enforcement Officer myself, I too seewhat has been happening. Trust me when I tell you that it is not just your area that this is happening.

Everyone who has ever been invovled in Police work understands that cops don't write tickets to other cops 99 % of the time. It is one of those job related perks, like working in an office gets you free use of the fax machine, or tickets to a hockey game because you do contract work for the team.

The point is this: There is a difference between running 5-10 MPH over the limit because you know that if you are stopped you will not get a ticket, and running 30 MPH over the limit because "How dare they stop me?" attitudes. It is getting out of hand in Indianapolis too. The attitude that "I can do what I want" is there for a reason. It is there because they CAN do what they want. Even filing a complaint with their Department does little good.

Actually, the only thing that worked here in Indianapolis was unmarked news crew cameras started following off-duty, marked take-home police cars and documenting the speeding and doing a big story on it for the TV News. This does take care of it for a little while, but must be done occasionally to keep it in check.

None of this attempts to solve the actual problem though, which is the attitude that goes with this. The older Officers I worked with would not have driven 40 MPH over the speed limit, passed an on-duty guy that was running Radar, and then just wave as he goes by. There was a respect for your fellow officer, which said that you don't put him in a position like that!

So, I understand where you are coming from.

And the comment by Anonymous:
Screw You Steve. You are just one of those GI Joe's that come home and can't get a real police job. I bet your a security guard. Keep up the social injustice crap, and we'll keep giving you tickets, butthole.

Yeah, that's a mature response indeed. My reasons for not going into police work after the Army and Criminal Justice in college are my own and nobody's concern but mine. For the record, I actually gave up a pending job with the Maine State Capitol Police during my divorce and subsequent move to South Carolina. So I'll keep up my social injustice crap, and you keep being hated & reviled for being a lousy cop with no respect for veterans.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Okay, I admit it. I have an addiction.

I guess it’s time to face facts, fess up, and admit that I have an addiction. It’s not easy to come to grips with an addiction like mine; the substance is readily available with a variety of means by which to partake of it. Its use is pretty much universally accepted. The irritability I get, along with the accompanying withdrawal headaches when I don’t get my daily fix, can be severe at times. Over the years my regular use of it has given me a greater tolerance for it so that I’m verily immune to lower doses and I keep needing a bigger and bigger jolt to get the monkey off my back.

My drug of choice? Caffeine. Oh, yes, I’m a caffeine junkie.

It started in my youth. Raised in a traditionally conservative English family with liberal views on tea consumption, both hot and cold, it was easy to get started. I cut my teeth on orange pekoe and graduated to Earl Grey. Of course, like any kid I wanted soda all the time, too, and through my teen years the dual thrust of tea and pop allowed me to get hooked, especially as I added coffee to the mix to complete the Holy Trinity. And then graduation summer brought a new and insidious twist: Jolt Cola, with all the sugar and twice the caffeine. Never mind that it tasted like crap, it was tabboo and therefore I had to have it.

Once in boot camp the frenetic pace and lack of sleep, combined with a scarcity of soda, saw me finding a new way to get a fix, running pell mell through the gateway of Vivarin and No-Doz. Portable and easy to conceal once procured, it was a great solution. It was also during this time that I fell into another classic junkie trap of becoming a dealer as well as a user. I’d buy several boxes of Vivarin at a time and sell them to my fellow recruits to support my leisure activities on weekend passes. How enterprising of me, no? Groggy recruits would hit me up on breaks in between training classes, and I’d sell it for a buck a hit. A box had 16 pills, so a $3.00 investment had a return of over 500%. Entrepreneurial free enterprise keeps America strong, guys.

Also in boot camp I pulled another stupid junkie move and sampled too much of my own product one afternoon, and had a bit of an OD. Instead of one tablet every 4 hours, I dropped 3 in 45 minutes. Hey, kids, a word to the wise: this is bad. You get nauseated and feel like your little 18-year old heart is about to explode from inside your ribcage. Bad scene, indeed.

Lack of sleep due to youthful exuberance and late-night club-hopping led me to start off every Friday morning in Germany for two years with 2 Vivarin, a pot of coffee, a couple of 800 mg Motrin, and about half a tube of Rolaids to keep it all down. At Fort Riley I developed a six-pack-a-day habit of Mountain Dew, or as we called it, Carbonated Crack. Again, my tolerance increased, exponentially. Years later I became a dealer of sorts again, as a coffee barista slinging espresso drinks to yuppies. It was far too easy to sample the merchandise, exotic blends of Java from around the globe and sissy drinks with stupid names, and my fellows and I would each down anywhere from 4-10 shots of espresso a shift. Talk about tolerance buildup and flying high as a kite!

These days I’m just as bad as ever. I average about 4 hours of sleep a night unfortunately during the workweek so the Evil Liquid Jumpstart is ESSENTIAL. The ubiquitous “energy drinks”? Hell, I’ve tried at least 30 different brands in 50 different flavors. The list includes Roxx, Monster, Amp, Sobe Adrenaline Rush, Sobe No Fear, Rock Star, 180, Stingers, Coca Cola Blak (nasty!), Full Throttle, MDX, Vault, Lost, Crunk, Pimp Juice, the works. There’s still dozens yet that I haven’t tried, only because I haven’t gotten around to it yet. I started with Red Bull, the original gateway drink. These days a weensy can of Red Bull isn’t even enough to cause my synapses to smolder, let alone ignite. I may as well be drinking a can of Moxie. If you’ve never heard of Moxie, be grateful. It’s like carbonated Jaegermeister without the alcohol. It’s a New England institution despite its taste, but the taste alone will wake the dead.

It’s not a cheap addiction, either. The average can costs about two to three bucks, although you can get Rip It and the Steven Segal Lightning Bolt drinks at Wal-Mart for a buck a can. The energy from one of the cheap drinks is minimal to moderate, but man do they taste good! These days I’m drinking a mix of the cheapies combined with three newer concoctions: NOS, Boo-Koo, and Jones Energy. The passion fruit-flavored NOS is awesome, a delicious can of nuclear release. I haven’t tried their other flavors yet. Boo-Koo packs a decent punch, less than NOS but still enough to animate my corpse. I prefer the Wildberry flavor, but the “Bite” flavor and Citrus are good too. Jones Energy is a second attempt by the Jones Soda Company to do an energy drink. Their first try was about 4 years ago, with a small can of foul-tasting poo called Whoop Ass. I think I was sucked in by the idea of opening a can of Whoop Ass, but was left really disappointed. The new formula tastes great and comes in a bigger can, and does a rather good job of prying my eyelids apart. As of late, I’ve been getting 4-packs of Jones for $3.95 at most Wal-Marts, and a couple area stores have been carrying 4-packs of NOS for $4.95.

So, sorry to ruin your impression that I’m a squeaky-clean upstanding member of the community. No, I’m a vile caffeine fiend, always looking to get hopped up and talk a mile a minute. Please forgive my weakness of the flesh. And hey, while you’re reading, I found this incredible blog where the dude reviews energy drinks. It’s like a caffeine user’s guide for dummies. The URL is

Gotta run…I hear that monkey on my back whispering evil things in my ears……and I have a couple 4-packs of Rip It and a few cans of NOS in the fridge….but…but…..I gotta go to bed in a little while… I must put my demons to rest, at least till about 4:30 tomorrow morning.

Monday, April 7, 2008

March Sadness

Mark Messier, Ron Francis, Scott Stevens, and Al MacInnis were inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame this year...

Tonight, all the talk of the sports world is the championship game of NCAA men’s basketball, the final culmination of the field of 64 teams in the tournament known as March Madness. All the prognosticating, smack-taling, filling in of brackets, and placing of wagers comes to a frothy head as I write this. March Madness, indeed.

So what…I can’t stand basketball.

While seemingly everyone else in the known universe is watching hoops, my sport is once again cast aside like a forgotten afterthought. Hockey always gets the shaft, actually. The start of the season is overshadowed by baseball’s World Series and the start of the NFL and college football seasons. Football dominates the TV and news coverage throughout, unless it’s instead being gobbled up by basketball. And now that the regular season is ending for hockey, no one seems to be noticing, caught up instead by the opening games of baseball season and the basketball championships.

Although hockey’s playoffs and the run for Lord Stanley’s Cup will carry us through to May, I’m still sad to see the season winding down. I call it March Sadness.

Yeah, I know, it’s April. Sue me.

So, since ESPN would rather show people playing poker, as if it were a sport, USA Today relegates daily hockey coverage to the back of the sports section after in-depth coverage of everything else under the sun, and the NHL’s TV coverage is provided by Versus, a cable channel that’s seen in about 12 homes nationwide, I thought I’d fill you all in on the spectacular moments in hockey that you’ve missed since the first puck dropped.

The season opened on September 29, with the first of back-to-back games in London at The O2 Arena. Both games featured the defending Stanley Cup Champion Anaheim Ducks, and the Los Angeles Kings (who are owned by Anschutz Entertainment Group, the same company that owns The O2). They were the first NHL regular season games ever played in Europe.

At just twenty years of age and in his third professional season, Sidney Crosby of the Pittburgh Penguins became the oungest captain ever of an NHL team when he was selected to that position on May 31st, during the off-season. At the time, Crosby was still about 10 weeks shy of turning 20.

Sid The Kid scores the winning goal at the Winter Classic

On November 7th Mike Modano of the Dallas Stars broke the NHL all-time record (1,233) for most points scored by a U.S. born player by scoring two goals in the first five minutes of a game against the San Jose Sharks. Modano ended the regular season with a total of 1,287 total points on 528 goals and 755 assists.

Mike Modano celebrates his milestone achievement

On November 10th, Jeremy Roenick of the San Jose Sharks became only the 3rd American to score 500 goals during his playing career. And on the final day of the regular season, April 6th (yeah, Saturday night), that feat was also accomplished by a fourth American, Kieth Tkachuk of the St.Louis Blues (Joe Mullen and Mike Modano are the other two Americans to have reached 500). Only 41 players have reached the 500-goal milestone in the history of the NHL, with the first being Maurice “Rocket” Richard in 1957.

Jeremy Roenick celebrates goal number 500 with his son. How cool is that?

On January 1st, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Buffalo Sabres played an historic outdoor game at Buffalo's Ralph Wilson Stadium, home of the Buffalo Bills football team. The AMP Energy NHL Winter Classic was the first time an NHL regular-season game had been played outdoors in the United States, and it set an NHL attendance record of 71,217 people in subzero weather conditions. (

On January 8, Chris Chelios of the Detroit Red Wings became the second oldest player in the history of the NHL, at 45 years, 348 days. Only Gordie Howe, who played until age 52, was older. Now in his 24th NHL season, Chris is older than his coach, Mike Babcock, who turns 45 later this month.This coming weekend, in Game Two of a playoff game against the Nashvile Predators, Chelios will become the NHL’s all-time leader in playoff games played. Incidentally, the Predators squeaked into the playoffs after a dramatic overtime win with a goal scored by a former South Carolina Stingray, Rich Peverley.

Methuselah? No, Chris Chelios!!!

Richard Zednik of the Florida Panthers was severely injured after having his external carotid artery in his neck accidentally cut by the skate of teammate Olli Jokinen in a game against the Buffalo Sabres on February 10. Zednik is expected to fully recover from the injury. (

Richard Zednik, one lucky dude.

On March 21, Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals scored his 59th and 60th goals of the season against the Atlanta Thrashers, becoming the first NHL player to score 60 goals in a season since 1996. He is the 19th player ever to reach the 60 goal plateau during a season. On March 25, Ovechkin scored his 61st goal to hold the Washington Capital's team record for regular season goals, and broke Luc Robitaille's record for most goals by a left winger in one season on April 3, by scoring two goals, his 64th and 65th of the season. Ovechkin finished the regular season as the leader in points (112) and goals (65), and today was awarded both the Art Ross Trophy and the Rocket Richard Trophy for the respective achievements. Moreover, since the Capitals won the Southeast Division, Ovechkin is a frontrunner for the Hart Trophy and Lester B. Pearson Award as the league's MVP via selection by the media and the National Hockey League Players Association, respectively. Twenty-two year old Ovechkin is in only his third NHL season.

Alexander Ovechkin. You can call him Ovie.

The NHL also celebrated a very special anniversary this year. It was 50 years ago that a young man named Willie O’Ree broke the color barrier in major league hockey. In 1958 O'Ree made his debut with the Boston Bruins. He was with the Bruins for two games before being sent back to the minors. In 1961, after two more years in the minors, O'Ree had a longer stay with the Bruins--41 games. O'Ree never played another game in the NHL, but stayed in the minors till retiring in 1974. He came out of retirement in 1978 for a final hurrah; at age 43 he laced up the skates one more time. Incredibly, Willie missed only a half-dozen games of the 70-game season and scored 50 points.

The most fitting tribute to Willie's career came when the NHL created an all-star game for young minority hockey players and named it in Willie's honor. The Willie O'Ree All-Star Game is held every year at the World Junior Championships. On January 17, 1998, during ceremonies before the NHL All-Star game, the NHL honored Willie O'Ree for his pioneering efforts and named him the director of youth hockey development for the NHL/USA Hockey diversity task force. He travels all over North America helping to establish programs.

Willie O'Ree while playing for the Bruins

A little closer to home, our very own South Carolina Stingrays have wrapped up their 15th season and are once again heading to the playoffs, the 14th trip of their 15-year franchise history. First year head coach Jared Bednar now holds the Rays’ record for regular-season wins with a team made up mostly of young rookies, a couple of returning core players, a couple upstart college players signed at the last minute, and a part-time defenseman who catches crooks at a local Target store. The goalie tandem of Davis Parley and Josh Johnson combined for six shutouts. Rookie sensation Travis Morin’s 34 goals and 50 assists not only led the Rays in scoring but was also good enough for third in the league. Their first-round action against the Augusta Lynx kicks off Thursday night.

Pierre-Luc O'Brien and Scott Romfo of the Stingrays celebrate another win.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Pride (In The Name of Love)

January 15, 1929 - April 4, 1968

One man come in the name of love.
One man come and go.
One man come he to justify.
One man to overthrow.

In the name of love.
What more in the name of love?
In the name of love.
What more in the name of love?

One man caught on a barbed wire fence.
One man he resist.
One man washed up on an empty beach.
One man betrayed with a kiss.

In the name of love.
What more in the name of love?
In the name of love.
What more in the name of love?

Early morning, April four,
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky.
Free at last, they took your life.
They could not take your pride.

In the name of love.
What more in the name of love?
In the name of love.
What more in the name of love?

In the name of love.
What more in the name of love?
In the name of love.
What more in the name of love?

U2, 1986

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

It's okay to rape infidels. Mohammed said so.

I know it looks like I’m carrying on a one-man Crusade against Islam with my blogs about what I see as the evils of Islam and Sharia Law. Maybe I am. But just the same, people like to ignore the crap that’s going on around them, too.

A report posted on Islam Watch (, a site run by Muslims who oppose teaching intolerance and hatred for Non-Islamic “unbelievers”, exposes a prominent Islamic cleric and his lawyer who support extreme punishment for non-Muslims, including killing and rape.

A question-and-answer session with Imam Abdul Makin Khalisadar in an East London mosque asks why Allah would tell Muslims to kill and rape innocent non-Muslims, including their wives and daughters, according to Islam Watch. His interviewer asked, “…Imam Hamza Mesri said Muslims can kill British infidels and have sex with their wives and daughters. Do you agree with him?”

Khalisadar replied, “It is not what Imam Hamza said nor is there a question of my agreeing with him or not. It is in Koran, thus those are Allah’s orders.”

Well, that seems pretty cut & dry for all of us. It’s in the book, so it’s gotta be the truth.

So then the interviewer asks, “But why would Allah tell Muslims to kill and rape innocent non-Muslims?”

His reply was more side-stepping and religious crap. The Imam said "Because non-Muslims are never innocent; they are guilty of denying Allah and his Prophet. If you don't believe me, here is the legal authority, the top Muslim lawyer of Britain."

The lawyer, Anjem Choudary, backs up the Imam's position, saying that all Muslims are innocent. "You are innocent if you are a Muslim," Choudary told the BBC. "Then you are innocent in the eyes of God. If you are not a Muslim, then you are guilty of not believing in God."

Wow…so much for the religion of peace & tolerance…

Choudary said he would not condemn a Muslim for any action. "As a Muslim, I must support my Muslim brothers and sisters," Choudary said. "I must have hatred to everything that is not Muslim."

The interviewer, a woman who was pretty much force-fed exactly what to ask to set the Imam up for proselytizing, further asks of Khalisadar, “ But our Prophet was sent as a mercy for all the humanity; he never hurt any body in his life.” , to which the reply was, “Yes, he never hurt a Muslim in his life. But Allah said non-Muslim are lowest beasts and worst creatures … and Muslim are ordered to kill them."

And when asked if the Prophet Mohammed approve of killing them and raping their wives, Khalisadar said, “Yes, he did. He not only approved of such acts, he and his Sahabas (the companions to the Prophet, much like Jesus’ disciples) practiced it regularly under Allah’s orders. He was helpless in it... If you don’t believe me, you have to believe sahih hadiths" (a hadith is the personal recollection of Mohammed or one of his companions, much like the various Gospels of the Christian Bible).

Khalisadar then went on to quote a couple of passages from the Koran that described the sacking of a Jewish village and the resulting slaughter of the men and the taking of a certain specific young woman of 17,who was the wife of the village chief. After telling the story and working the male audience members into a bit of a lather, Khalisadar hatched a plan by which seven of the men agreed to lie for Main and say he was preaching to them at the local mosque if he ended up being apprehended for rape, and likewise he would lie for any of them.

Khalisadar ended up raping a local 27-year old woman in her home at knifepoint, and after being apprehended his cronies lied for him. What the Koran didn’t plan on was that he’d be convicted with DNA evidence. The Imam got 7½ years for rape and 2½ for conspiring to pervert justice. The seven members of the East London Mosque plead guilty to perverting justice and got 12 months each. Their burka-clad wives, present in the court, couldn’t believe this supposed miscarriage of justice. They yelled abuse at the judge for punishing their husbands for practicing their religion. They asked why an act approved by Koran and practiced by the holy Prophet punishable in a country which claims freedom of religion. They also claimed that it was clearly a discrimination against Muslims and definitely important for Muslims to implement Sharia Law in England as suggested by the learned Archbishop. (Oh yeah, in case you missed that blog, the Archbishop of Canterbury thinks that Sharia in the U.K. is inevitable. Only if you roll over and allow it to happen, your Holiness…)

But Imam Abdul had no regrets. For the first time in his life he had a white woman and in addition he gained a lot of sawab for following in the footsteps of his beloved prophet. Sawab is like a version of virtue, so this guy scored brownie points with his homies for raping a white lady.

Sad to say, had this happened in a Sharia country, he would have skated away scot-free, since Sharia Law requires four male witnesses to prove a rape, and chances are that those four witnesses were participants first.

So, I shall continue my little one-man Crusade against radical Islam and Sharia Law. Wake up, Sheeple! There’s more going on outside your window than trying to keep up with the Kardashians and worrying over who’ll get kicked off Flavor of Love this week.