The Iraq War and Mrs. Johnson

I was surprised to hear President George Bush mention meeting with Mary “Missy” Johnson during tonight’s presidential debate. I wasn’t surprised by the president’s reaction by meeting her.

Staff Sgt. Paul “PJ” Johnson, the first U.P. native killed in the Iraq war, was killed in action during an ambush in Fallujah last October. Johnson left a strong mark in the Upper Peninsula where he grew up.

Although I’ve only spent a few moments in touch with the family and friends of Paul Johnson, I was very impressed with the determination, strength and warmth they displayed in the face of losing someone so loved. This impression is supported in reporting for the articles I wrote and an article I read in The New York Times.

To provide more information about the Johnsons, here is my article The Ultimate Sacrifice about PJ Johnson’s passage and the reaction.

Statistical Abstract

At the end of the month, I wanted to thank everyone for visiting the Web site. Hits on my Web site are up about fifteen-fold since February. Of course, there were only about 15 hits in February and about 270 this September.

It’s worth noting that my stats show that Macs running OS 9 account for 12 percent of the site traffic. So, I’m assuming that’s me (that and the fact stats also show that accounts for about 15 percent of hits). So the remaining 85-88 percent of hits are all you guys and gals. Thanks.

I know that a lot of people are landing on old blog posts through Google searches. I hope everyone is finding what they’re looking for.

I’m not going to post my miniscule stats every month — I just wanted to express my appreciation for your traffic. If you like what you’re reading, I hope that you’ll stick around and let me know what you think.

Comments or questions? Please drop me a line — rtolson -at- Thanks again.

The pre-debate debate

The pre-debate regarding tomorrow’s debate is the post debate, specifically how each party and the media tackles its response after W and Kerry stop talking. Today’s edition of The Daily Howler spells things out pretty nicely.

I’ve been wondering for a while if the tomorrow’s debate will be a repeat of 2000. I was astounded then seeing a debate that I thought Gore won be transformed into a seeming Bush victory. This was after polls and other immediate response supported that assumption. I’m afraid that this might happen this year.

There’s been a lot of talk about the spin and the media coverage of this election. There hasn’t been much out there to assure me that this year’s coverage will be much better than 2000.

Anyway, there’s a lot of other political blogs out there if you want enough rhetoric to satisfy the most rapid of partisans.

_Random_ eye movement

This blog is part of a rather impersonal personal Web site. It’s got no pictures, sounds (until recently) or much mention of my personal life. The (ahem) intimate details of my life are just not anything that I’d delve into, least of all on a blog.

So, in a small change of pace, I’m going to talk about some dreams I had recently. Unfortunately (for you), my dreams aren’t intimate — they’re more situational where I find myself doing something totally random. They’re almost snapshots of things happening.

There were three dreams in three days. The first one involved my bathtub. Water from the shower (which doesn’t exist in real life) soaked through the unprotected walls and it was peeling away taking the insulation with it leaving only tile beneath.

Yesterday, I dreamt that I was living with my family in a big modern city (with boutiques lining the street). Much of the city was having a holiday and I wandered around. I walk through the row of shops, underneath the subway line. I note many people standing in line outside a building with the NASA logo. It turns out that people are waiting to ride some sort of space-related roller coaster that zoomed around the neighborhood. I didn’t ride the coaster.

This morning, I dreamt that I was in a TV station somewhere. There were meetings going on and I was in a maroon-painted room with several others (including comedian Rick Mercer for some reason). After small talk with Mercer and others, I went back to the kitchenette. After I go into a meeting room, I run into a guy who spills a bowl of chili over my clothes.

I don’t know what 99.9 percent of my dreams mean, including these. I just wanted to note how bizarre they are — especially three days in a row.

Where’d this ‘doctor’ come from?

I don’t know if this is a sign that I’ve been in newspapers for too long, but I got concerned watching the short film “The Font Doctor.” The “doctor” is a guy who formats fonts for Hollywood pitches.

I nearly jumped out of my seat when he criticized two poor authors of using the Arial font (which is a clean, sans serif font). I don’t know what font it really was, but it was totally a serif font (maybe Times or Palatino).

I guess we now know what sort of accuracy to expect from an outfit like MocDocs.

Finding hockey’s roots

I went to the expo for the Professional Hockey Centennial Celebration Friday. It was really neat seeing all of the history of the game. I was also impressed to see some of the hockey historians that had traveled so far to attend the event.

The sights of the expo were cool as well. There was old equipment like hockey sticks on display and some old ice skates that looked pretty painful. The Hockey Hall of Fame had some displays of the Stanley Cup and the Original Six NHL teams as well as some skills tests. The kids really had a ball (puck?) with the games.

All in all a rewarding, educational experience. I’ll be back Sunday to see the Stanley Cup in person as well as checking out some more local hockey history. Tonight, the Red Wings alumni team faces off with an alumni team from Michigan Tech.

Indiana Jones and the Tickle Trunk Treasure

I frequent from time to time. Sometimes there are DVDs there that haven’t been released in the United States (like Made in Canada), plus there are added features on the Canadian release and sometimes the exchange rate is in my favor.

Anyway, I was reading through’s Essential Canadian DVDs and this interesting combo came up. Apparently, people who bought classic children’s TV show Mr. Dress-Up also purchased the Indiana Jones Trilogy. decided to make it a “Great Buy” where people can save $20CDN by purchasing the two together.

I’m guessing that many purchasers are buying for families. It might explain the purchase of a kiddie show and an adventure flick.

Giving props

I must say that I’m impressed with the singing ability of Robert Pomakov who’s been singing the national anthems in Toronto during the recent World Cup of Hockey which is ending tonight.

Part of it is his incredible dedication that he displayed while singing all these national anthems from Finland, the Czech Republic, Russia and Canada. He tilts his shaven head forward slightly and stares ahead as he sings — which sounds so fluent even though I can’t understand a word he’s saying. I wish he was allowed to sing “O, Canada” tonight, but they gave it to someone else.

By far the best performance of “O, Canada” that I’ve heard is Mark Donnelly before Game 7 of the Vancouver Canucks playoffs last year. It was electrifying, especially when he stops and lets the crowd sing along (and they’re in tune!). I have a recording of it that I still listen to from time to time.

Missing link

Living in a battleground state means that we get a _ton_ of commercials. Despite the fact that the U.P. is fairly rural, every vote apparently counts.

Tonight, there was an ad from George Bush promoting his health care plan and his Agenda for America. There was a lot of interesting proposals there ranging from savings accounts and allowing small businesses to group together.

What was notably missing was anything about lowering the cost of prescription drugs. There was nothing at all, compared to the one or two things that might — might — reduce the price of health care.

To be honest, I don’t know what Kerry’s plan entails, but this seems to be a critical oversight.

BTW, I’m really doing my best to avoid commenting on this upcoming election. Part of it is that, professionally, it shouldn’t matter which candidate I support. The other reason is that there’s probably millions of blogs out there that dispense political blather like it was liquid gold.

As the election nears, I’m probably going to delve more into the political realm. In the end, I’ll try to keep it to a dull roar.