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Updated: 11/13/02

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What's on the nightstand

by Michael Crichton

make phone calls


Wednesday, 13 November, 2002

My phone stopped working last night. It worked at 5:30, but when I tried to use it again at 8:00 - nada. Just a hissing noise. When I called it from my cell phone, I got a busy signal. I figured that the cat must have knocked a cord loose or stepped on a button during one of her rampages around the rooms, but even unplugging all of the phones and checking all the wires didn't fix it.

This morning, still no go, and when I went downstairs and asked if anyone else was having problems with their phones, they said no. Great. Dealing with The Phone Company. My favorite.

So, having postponed the inevitable for a couple of hours, I decided to call my house one more time before giving up. It worked.

[Go figure.]

So Iraq has decided it WILL allow the inspectors in? Good, because this is a curious development:

If you still need a signal that President Bush means it when he says the United States is preparing to attack Iraq unless dictator Saddam Hussein eliminates his weapons of mass destruction, look no further than this: The president's top war communicator since 9/11 is shipping off to be the new spokesman for Central Command, the outfit charged with waging and winning the war.

At age 32 James Wilkinson may seem young, but he's had a whole world of training for this role of a lifetime. Back in the 1990s he flew into Mongolia to help set up a new government; he's an officer in the Navy Reserves, he worked with House Majority Leader Dick Armey, and ran the post-9/11 war room that had satellite offices in England and Pakistan. Wilkinson also studied Arabic for a year and just came home from a 10-day trip to Morocco where he practiced his new language on the streets


A while ago I whined about the nasty law here in PA that prohibits direct shipments of wines to consumers. Not that it ever really stopped me, but it has been difficult to say the least.

We heard while we were in Napa earlier this month that there is now Federal Legislation that allows direct shipment. From NapaNews.com:

Wine purchased while visiting a winery may be shipped to another state. President George W. Bush signed the Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act this month, which includes a provision allowing visitors to ship their wine to another state. Purchasers must be in accordance with state law in that they could carry the wine into the state to which the wine is shipped.

Here's how the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board's website states it:

A new law has been passed that will enable Pennsylvania wine consumers to order hard-to-find or rare wines over the Internet from out of state shippers. Consumers may order up to nine liters from the shipper, who will then send it to the Wine & Spirits Shoppe of the customer's choice. The PLCB is currently working out the procedures to implement this new law. Please check back over the next few weeks. Details will be posted as they are available.

Hmmm. So not EXACTLY direct shipment, since the booze has to pass through the greedy little hands of the LCB, and be subjected to their version of wine storage. But I'm sure that for that additional TWENTY-FOUR PERCENT TAX they will be happy to deliver it directly to my door.

[Yeah, right.]

~ ~ ~

Quote du jour:

"Two of the cruelest, most primitive punishments our town deals out to those who fall from favor are the empty mailbox and the silent telephone."
-- Hedda Hopper (1890 - 1966) US journalist, actress

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