Saturday, May 26, 2007

Drivers in 50 States and District of Columbia Ranked
By Peter Valdes-Dapena

NEW YORK (May 24) -- One out of six drivers on the road today would not pass a written driver's license test if they were given one today, according to a national survey conducted by GMAC Insurance.

The survey asked questions from actual state Department of Motor Vehicle tests. Questions covered both traffic laws and safe driving habits. The average score nationwide was 77.1 out of 100.

Respondents from New York state had the lowest average score, answering just 71 percent of the questions correctly. New Yorkers also had the highest failure rate, with 36 percent failing to earn what would be considered a passing score on the test. Idaho had the highest average score, at 81.7. At least 100 people from each state and Washington D.C. were asked 20 questions taken from actual DMV tests. The questions and answers were applicable to all states.

In general, residents in eastern states fared worst and residents of western states did best. The bottom five ranked states, from worst to best, were New York, New Jersey, Washington D.C., Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

The top five states, ranked from best to worst, were Idaho, Alaska, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Kansas. Questions included such things as "A traffic light with a flashing red signal means?" and "If, while driving, a tire suddenly blows out, you should..." The test can be taken on-line at

Well it just says what I have been saying for YEARS and YEARS. While people in the North East and especially Massachusetts, may have the highest percentage of College/University graduates they are lacking common sense. Not only in who and what they continue to vote for, but in driving as well. It just goes to show you that being educated doesn't make you smart! I say CONGRATS to the people of Idaho, Alaska, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Kansas for having the best drivers in the country. You guys are welcome on our roads ANYTIME!

ciao CW

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Passing of a Dear Dear Friend...

On May 7th, 2007 I wrote this post "The 6:00 am Gang at Panera" concerning the friendship 4 people from various walks of life had developed over time. We meet every morning at 6:00 am for coffee. I am sad to say that one of the "Panera Gang of Four" has passed from this earth.

Earl, our resident small engine maestro and one hullava guy passed away Tuesday afternoon, the 22nd of May. Earl was a friend to all who knew him. Some affectionately called him "EARL THE PEARL". Earl by all accounts was a man's man. The true salt of the earth. I loved Earl like a brother and will continue to keep a place in my heart for him. Always.

I had just settled in on the couch for a hard evening of watching the extended version of the "RETURN OF THE KING" from the Lord of the Rings trilogy when "THE COLONEL" called me with the news of Earl's unexpected passing. I felt a range of emotions hit me like a brick wall upon hearing the news. Rage, sadness, anger, sorrow and many tears washed upon me. The realization that he was gone is a bitter pill. Friendships like the 4 of us have are a rare and special thing. As a result I feel like part of me is gone, and it is in a way. Yet I can say none of us will ever forget Earl. Ever. He was a special guy. I can honestly say we all will still meet each other every day for coffee as well. It is important in times like these to keep the tradition going.

With Earl's passing things will be different. No question about it. It is going to be mighty uncomfortable seeing his empty chair every morning. But I am confident our friendship with each other and the bonds we share will grow stronger as a result.

God bless you Earl. I love you from the bottom of my heart. You will be missed but never ever forgotten.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Fall Classes for Men


Class 1 How To Fill Up The Ice Cube Trays--Step by Step, with Slide Presentation. Meets 4 weeks, Monday and Wednesday for 2 hours beginning at 7:00 PM.
Class 2 The Toilet Paper Roll--Does It Change Itself? Round Table Discussion. Meets 2 weeks, Saturday 12:00 for 2 hours.
Class 3 Is It Possible To Urinate Using The Technique Of Lifting The Seat and Avoiding The Floor, Walls and Nearby Bathtub?--Group Practice. Meets 4 weeks, Saturday 10:00 PM for 2 hours.
Class 4 Fundamental Differences Between The Laundry Hamper and The Floor--Pictures and Explanatory Graphics. Meets Saturdays at 2:00 PM for 3 weeks.
Class 5 Dinner Dishes--Can They Levitate and Fly Into The Kitchen Sink? Examples on Video. Meets 4 weeks, Tuesday and Thursday for 2 hours beginningat 7:00 PM
Class 6 Loss Of Identity--Losing The Remote To Your Significant Other. Help Line Support and Support Groups. Meets 4 Weeks, Friday and Sunday 7:00 PM
Class 7 Learning How To Find Things--Starting With Looking In The Right Places And Not Turning The House Upside Down While Screaming. Open Forum .Monday at 8:00 PM, 2 hours.
Class 8 Health Watch--Bringing Her Flowers Is Not Harmful To Your Health. Graphics and Audio Tapes. Three nights; Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 7:00 PM for 2 hours.
Class 9 Real Men Ask For Directions When Lost--Real Life Testimonials. Tuesdays at 6:00 PM Location to be determined.
Class 10 Is It Genetically Impossible To Sit Quietly While She Parallel Parks? Driving Simulations. 4 weeks, Saturday's noon, 2 hours.
Class 11 Learning to Live--Basic Differences Between Mother and Wife.Online Classes and role-playing Tuesdays at 7:00 PM, location to be determined.
Class 12 How to be the Ideal Shopping CompanionRelaxation Exercises, Meditation and Breathing Techniques. Meets 4 weeks, Tuesday and Thursday for 2 hours beginning at 7:00 PM.
Class 13 How to Fight Cerebral Atrophy--Remembering Birthdays, Anniversaries and Other Important Dates and Calling When You're Going To Be Late. Cerebral Shock Therapy Sessions and Full Lobotomies Offered. Three nights; Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 7:00 PM for 2 hours.
Class 14 The Stove/Oven--What It Is and How It Is Used. Live Demonstration. Tuesdays at 6:00 PM, location to be determined.

Upon completion of any of the above courses, diplomas will be issued to the survivors.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


UNITED STATES Climate Summary
April 2007

The average temperature in April 2007 was 51.7 F. This was -0.3 F cooler than the 1901-2000 (20th century) average, the 47th coolest April in 113 years. The temperature trend for the period of record (1895 to present) is 0.1 degrees Fahrenheit per decade. 2.09 inches of precipitation fell in April. This was -0.34 inches less than the 1901-2000 average, the 30th driest such month on record. The precipitation trend for the period of record (1895 to present) is 0.01 inches per decade.

Select from the options below to view graphs and tables of monthly temperature and precipitation data for the UNITED STATES , then click "submit". (Please wait 20-30 seconds)
Data used to calculate United States mean temperatures are from the USHCN version 2 data set.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Enough is Enough

Why do some people have a hard time doing, to quote Spike Lee, "Do the right thing"? (It pains me greatly to quote Spike Lee!) Why is it in society we seem fixated on "Celeb's" who constantly flaunt the law and the norms of decency? The recent actions of one Paris Hilton come to mind as one who has displayed a rather callous attitude towards the law. Even going to far as to gather a petition to be presented to the California Governor begging for pardon.

Cut to the chase, Paris broke the law. Plain and simple. Not once but at least twice and got caught doing so. Now she must pay the price and serve 45 days in jail. Yet Paris, her posse and a surprising number of people agree with her and feel "Princess Paris" shouldn't be sent to jail to pay for her crimes.

I must admit is rather refreshing to see "Princess Paris" get dope slapped into a realization that she is not the cherry on top of everyone's Hot Fudge Sunday. And kudos to the Judge who didn't let her high priced legal team or her celebrity status influence the sentence she was slapped with. Frankly I think "Princess Paris got off way to easy in the first place. Driving under the influence is a serious crime. And it is a CRIME, one that even to this day society doesn't take seriously enough. But oddly enough "Princess Paris" isn't facing jail time for driving drunk. She is going to spend 45 days for driving on a suspended license as a result of her driving drunk. She should have spent at least 45 days in the slammer for driving drunk in the first place.

Many "Professional Athletes" are another above the law feeling group that has remained unchecked and relatively unchallenged for years. After a few too many embarrassing run ins with the law the NFL has decided to step up to the plate and BITCH SLAP PAC MAN JONES with what basically amounts to a year long suspension from the game. It is about time too. I have to wonder what MLB is going to do with Barry "Steroid" Bonds should he be indicted for his role in the current Balco investigation. Will MLB has the stones to step up to the plate and strip Bonds of the all but his Home run record? Will the powers that be overlook Bonds's "questionable" actions and behavior and elected him to the Hall of Fame when he is eligible?

Don't we as a people have the nerve to stand up and at least hold these celebrities accountable for their actions even if the legal system and in some cases professional organization seem to protect?

Now don't misread what I am saying. Our current legal system is the fairest in the world. But like everything else it has its problems. Letting people off with suspended sentences for DUI, OUI and DWI is common for 1st offenders if there was no bodily injury and property damage as a result of the persons actions behind the wheel. The NFL, NBA and MLB have a duty to protect their respective brands. At what point are we as a people going to start to demand change to the current status quo? At what point are we as fans going to start demanding that our sports heroes behave in their public lives? Or should we?

Like it or not these public figures have an impact on our society. They all have a marketed image based on their looks,talent or athletic ability. Images crafted to make money and make an impact in our lives one way or another. There needs to be a public backlash. A backlash that swells to the point that it is no longer fashionable to be on the wrong side of the law, morals or ethics. The jail term handed down to "Princess Paris" is a good start. The NFL's tackling of Pac Man Jones sends a powerful message as well. More needs to happen. And that "more" can come from you and me. We can turn these negative influences into positive ones by holding these people accountable. Don't patronize the products the sell. Let the teams the professional athletes play for know that as a fan you demand a higher standard of accountability from their athletes.

Real men and women don't take steroids. They don't drive drunk. They don't beat their wives or girlfriends. Real men and women don't do drugs. If a real man or women does break the law they step to plate, admit their error and take the punishment handed to them. We are all human and we all can make "misteaks". With many they seem to continue to make the same mistakes over and over again to the point that their behavior becomes the norm and almost expected and sadly sometimes embraced by society. They become rewarded for bad behavior. I say enough is enough.

Friday, May 11, 2007


Congrats to REO SPEEDWAGON for cracking the top 40 with their new single "I NEEDED TO FALL" off of their new album titled "FIND YOUR OWN WAY HOME". The first new album from the boys in over 10 years!

While it may be the first new album in over 10 years from REO, don't let that fool you into thinking they haven't been around. The band has been relentlessly touring the entire time with such bands as Styx, Journey, Survivor, Fleetwood Mac and Foreigner just to name a few. More often than not "Headlining" the venues including nearly 2 years on the road with Styx. Sadly the band was planning to hook up this summer with the legendary band BOSTON for a smashing co headline Summer Tour. Due the untimely passing of Boston's lead singer Brad Delp those plans now seem to be on an indefinite hold.

It is nice to see REO back on the charts cranking out ROCK SOLID music that is timeless by design. I can't wait to see them again and you can count on me being front row center stage left when they roll into the Boston area!

The new album is great. It is ever bit as good, if not better that the 1980 release of the multi Platinum disc Hi/Infidelity. A solid mix or classic REO rockers and just enough tear jerking ballads to keep you coming back for more. The new CD is available almost everyplace music is sold or you can purchase it direct from You can also listen to the new songs on the bands website as well!

So I say THANKS to the guys from REO for the new music. Just promise me guys you won't take another 10+ years to put out some more!


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

This puts everything in perspective...
Are our "Lawmakers" too stupid to get it?

When we bought our new home home out in the woods, I gladly bought a bird feeder and I hung it on my back deck and filled it with seed. Hoping to enjoy the diversity of birds up close. Within a few days we had hundreds of birds taking advantage of the continuous flow of free and easily accessible food.

Then the birds started building nests in the rafters of the deck, above the table, and next to the barbecue. and in the adjecent trees around the yard.

Then came the poop. It was everywhere: on the patio tile, the chairs, the table...everywhere. Worse my new truck was plastered with bird crap... DAILY if not hourly.

Then some of the birds turned mean:

They would dive bomb me and my wife. Going to the mailbox required an umbrella. Then the birds began to peck and dive at me even though I had fed them out of my own pocket.

Others birds became boisterous and loud. They sat on the feeder and squawked and screamed at all hours of the day and night and demanded that I fill it when it got low on food. Too lazy to pick up what the spilled. Heaven forbid!

After a while the situation became so bad I couldn't even sit on my own deck anymore. I took down the bird feeder and within three days the birds were gone.

It took a few days but I cleaned up their mess and took down the many nests they had built all over the yard. Soon, the back yard was like it used to be...quite, serene and no one demanding their rights to a free meal.

Now lets see...our government gives out free food, subsidized housing, free medical care, free education and allows anyone born here to be a automatic citizen.

Then the illegals came by the tens of thousands. Suddenly our taxes went up to pay for free services. Small apartments are housing 5 or more families. You have to wait 4 to 6 hours to be seen by an emergency room doctor. Your child's 2nd grade class is behind other schools because over half the class doesn't speak English. Causing the teacher to spend more of her precious time working with those who don't speak english. Corn Flakes now come in a bilingual box. I have to press "one" to hear my bank talk to me in English, and people waving flags other than "Old Glory" are squawking and screaming in the streets, demanding more rights and free liberties. Yet I wonder how many of them truely pay the taxes due on what they earn? How many of them have stolen someone's identity so they can "work" here?

Maybe it's time for the government to take down the bird feeder.

Monday, May 07, 2007

The 6:00 am Gang at Panera

Nearly every weekday morning around 6:00 am a group of 4 of us meet at the local Panera Bread for a little comradery and good ole fashion "Male Bonding".

The group consists of moi, a psycho shawarma lover and bonsai nut, Earl, our resident small engine maestro, Ed, the law enforcement agent and pistol packin' locksmith and last but not least "The Colonel". Patriot, man of God and all around good guy.

We all hang around swill some coffee or soda, perhaps dine on a pastry or two and shoot the bull for a couple of hours. Everyday without fail, we solve the problems plaguing the universe, gossip, bust each other chops, talk politics and shop and then leave Panera feeling like we could take on the world. The following morning the same scene repeats itself and duplicates itself day after day after day until the weekend rolls around. Come Monday morning we then we start the whole process over.

I wouldn't trade these weekday Panera Bread bull sessions for anything. They are great and I am happy to say are they are highlight of my day. Nothing beats the company of good friends. Nothing. Even though rising from my warm bed at 5:00 AM to meetup with everyone at 6:00 AM when the doors open can be a pain in the ass at times, I do it and soon the wiriness of being slightly groggy lifts from my eyes as the caffeine from my Dr. Pepper works its way into my bloodstream. Well it was Dr. Pepper until Panera dumped it for some fizzy Ice Tea. Now I slowly slurp Mountain Dew since I can't stand Pepsi. Why a high end eatery like Panera serves Pepsi is beyond me but that is another story for another time I suppose!

We all come from vastly different backgrounds and our politics are different as well. Despite this there is a bond between us. A certain magic that you can't create. It just happens. You can't force friendship. Friendship happens or it doesn't with people. Yet the four of us have a unique bond that is something no one can take from us.

The story of how this "foursome" started isn't steeped in grandeur and lore. It was rather spontaneous in a sense, yet at the same time slow to develop. A contradiction I know, but that is the only way to explain it. It all started when Me and "The Colonel" began meeting every Thursday morning at 7:00 am at Panera for coffee a couple of years ago. A simple once a week thing between friends. After a couple of years, Ed and Earl started showing up and sitting at another part of Panera. I didn't know Ed and only slightly knew Earl. The Colonel was friends with Ed and soon we started to join each other. This soon turned from a once a week gathering to everyday. That pretty much sums it up. Nothing flashy or "Hollywood" about it.

The bond between us was almost instantaneous I think. 4 guys from different, lifestyles, backgrounds and ages connecting in a positive way. I love these guys and would do anything for anyone of them and I think they would do the same for me. At its very core this is a friendship and friendship is one of the most important things we have in life. The Greek Philosopher EPICURUS (341-270 BC) summed it up pretty well when he said. ""It is not so much our friends' help that helps us, as the confident knowledge that they will help us."

You can't create something like this. It just happens. But you can open yourself up for it. Don't' be afraid to meet new people. Ask a neighbor over for out for a cup of coffee or lunch. Explore other people and keep an open mind. You don't have to agree with them 100%. Life would be pretty boring if we used this as our sole determination for friendship. Be open and honest and you just might find yourself some new friends. See you in the morning guys!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Points to Ponder

Why do Town Managers and Mayors threaten to cut Fire and Police service every time a buget "crisis" strikes a community?

Ever notice that Government is very inefficient when it comes to managing money and resources?

Why to teachers clamor for pay raises when they only work 8.5 to 9 months a year WITH all the guaranteed Holidays and Vacations built in that people in the dreaded "Private Sector" don't get off?

Why do we place limits of how many hours a truck driver can operate his rig yet in Massachusetts we place no limits on how many off duty DETAILS a police officer can work? Keep in mind the Police Office has to make critical split second decisions involving life and death as a matter of course. Shouldn't we demand that he/she should be as rested as a truck driver?

Why do Celebrities such as Rosie O'Donnell, Babs Streisand, George Clooney, Alec Baldwin and Tom Cruise feel they are an authority on matters of international politics, specifically the Middle East, when none have ever spent any significant time there?

Ever notice the "news" rarely reports anything POSITIVE unless it is in the last 30 seconds of the broadcast?

Why is there always one ASSHOLE neighbor in every neighborhood?

Why does Comcast suck at being a cable operator in terms of customer service but is excellent in customer service as an ISP? Wouldn't be that little thing called "competition" would it?

Why did the Catholic Church continue to cover up their Priest's sex abuse problems for years? And why isn't Cardinal Law in JAIL for his part?

Does anybody watch Katie Curic on CBS?

Does anybody listen to the Felonious Felon Tommy "Taxes" Finneran on WRKO AM 680?

WHY WHY WHY did Panera Bread eliminate Dr Pepper from their fountain drinks and replace it with a Raspberry Ice Tea concoction? For that matter why is a high end eatery like Panera serving a low class drink like Pepsi?

Anyone have any answers or thoughts?