Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Don't let the door hit you in the ass

Well, here it is.  Finally, it's December 31 and this year is almost over.  I for one am ready for it to be history.  It's not so much that it was personally a bad year for me just that I'm really hoping 2009 will be better all around.  So, for a recap, a la me.

The Bad:

1) We lost some fairly incredible people this year. Some were writers, some were scientists.  Some old, some young.  Here's the list of who I think will be missed:

  • Heath Ledger
  • Charlton Heston
  • Arthur C Clarke
  • George Carlin
  • Michael DeBakey
  • Issac Hayes
  • Sir Edmund Hilary
  • Paul Newman
  • Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn
  • Roy Scheider
  • Dith Pran
  • Michael Crichton
  • Eartha Kitt
There are others, of course.  But these folks contributed something unique to the world and their spark is now gone.  Hopefully, you know who they all are.  If not, may I suggest a little research.

2) Disasters:

  • Sichuan earthquake
  • Myanmar cyclone
  • Hurricane Ike
These were the big three. 70,000 dead in China.  130,000 dead in Myanmar.  Only 12 dead for Ike but the storm damage nearly destroyed Galveston and left millions without power in Houston for over a week.  Thousands are still displaced from Ike and one of the largest employers in Galveston, the University of Texas Medical Branch has laid off 3,000 and left the city.

3) The Economy
Can I really add anything else?  It sucks.  It's gonna hurt for a long, long while.

4) The Campaign.
  Sarah Palin.  John McCain . Wingnuts galore.

The Good:

1) The Olympics.
  I'm not a big sports fan but I always watch the Olympics.  I got to watch Michael Phelps out touch Cavic.  I have it on my DVR.  It was amazing.  May-Treanor and Walsh kicking butt and taking names.  Jamaican Usain Bolt.  Some called him arrogant.  I called him fast.

2) NASA-
  They had a good year.  Which in my opinion is always a good thing.  They successfully landed on Mars, orbited Mercury and a moon of Saturn.

3) The Election .
  The fact that Obama won on November 4 gives me hope in America.  Despite the many whack jobs who called him a Muslim, said he wasn't a natural born citizen or prepared for the job, we still chose him.  We have an intelligent, thoughtful and inspiring man as our next President.  There could not be a greater contrast between Bush and Obama.  His election is the first step in repairing the damage done over the last 8 years.

Personally, I saw my youngest graduate high school and get accepted into my alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin.  My eldest has finally found what it is that she wants to do with her life.  She's majoring in Emergency Administration at the University of North Texas and expects to graduate in 2010. She's energized and amazing things are falling into place around her.  This is what she was meant to do.  My temporary job became full-time and our company is doing well and looks well situated to survive the current economic nightmare.  After five years of hubby in college and struggling to pay our bills, we're finally beginning to see the light at the end of tunnel.  It may still turn out to be the headlamp of an oncoming train but for now it looks like daylight.

After 8 years of Bush and Cheney, I feel like there is a new energy in our nation.  Despite the economy, despite the tensions in the Middle East, despite Russia's growing return to yesteryear, I believe that we are headed in the right direction.

Have a safe and happy New Year's Eve and many happy returns for 2009.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tagged


Okay. So, I was tagged by Political Morsels and Other Droppings  and have to do the following:
  1. Link to the person who tagged you. 
  2. Post the rules on your blog. 
  3. Write six random things about yourself. 
  4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them. 
  5. Let each person know they were tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
  6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Hokay.  Here are my six things:
  1. One of my earliest memories is sitting on the floor watching Star Trek: The Original Series.
  2. My family was in Wyoming in June 1969.  My grandfather wanted to watch the moon landing on TV.  My sisters wanted to visit what I remember as the set for the TV show 7 Brides for 7 Brothers (though recently I tried to verify that this was actually in Jackson Hole and found evidence to the contrary but hey, I was 5)  My sisters won.
  3. I used to bowl for the University of Texas.  Really.  We had a bowling team.
  4. I was a Girl Scout leader for 13 years but was never a Girl Scout as a girl.
  5. I can personally attest to the fact that keeping your foot on the floor while laying in bed drunk does in fact keep the bed from spinning off into space.
  6. I lost 75% of my hair last summer after a particularly nasty bout of cellulitis became septic and tried to kill me.  I shaved the rest off and looked really goofy for a few months until it grew back curly!
My six:
  1. Middle Aged Woman 
  2. Musings of a Wandering Elf 
  3. Wonderings of A# Mind 
  4. Apocalyptics Anonymous II 
  5. Feet of the Table 
  6. Sprite's Keeper 

It's not enough to risk your life..

...you have to risk losing custody of your children, too.

There is an alarming trend nationwide that's seeing military deployment used as an argument to declare a parent unfit.  It's crazy that lawyers are actually using this as a tactic to help clients snatch their children from the custodial parent simply because they're on active duty in the military.

As military divorce rates rise, more parents are facing custody battles.  They're receiving little help from the military and are forced to fight a custody battle from a war zone.  How insane is this?  The military requires parents to write a dependent care plan before they deploy, but these plans have no legal weight and are often ignored.To wit, one Spec. Jonathan W. Maldonado discovered this the hard way.  He had given his mother guardianship and power of attorney over his children when he deployed.  The courts did not recognize the military power of attorney and placed his children in foster care. I don't know the full details of this case, but this seems simply insane to me.  He can't contact his children and will have to fill to regain custody when he returns to the US in January.

I find the entire idea of using military deployments as an excuse to change custody agreements fairly horrific. The lawyers say they're not attacking the soldiers for doing their duty but it sure as hell looks like it. Add to that the fact that they're half a world away and not able to easily contact lawyers and make hearings and it's just too much.  These parents are already facing one of the toughest parts of being at war- being separated from their children- now these scumbag lawyers and exes are using the very fact that they're risking their lives as leverage to gain custody.

It's wrong.

I know it.  You now it.  And those ass hat lawyers know it, too.

Monday, December 29, 2008

D'oh!

Another nail in the coffin of abstinence only sex-ed. Apparently, a recent study says that those teens who take the virginity pledge are no more likely to abstain from sex before marriage than their counterparts who don't take such a pledge.

Seems like fairly common sense stuff to me. Hormones and romantic love are a hard combo to beat. But the scary part is that this study found that those who took the pledge are more likely to NOT use protection. Proponents of abstinence only education say this is a skewed result because the researcher assumes that these types of classes either downplay or misinform their audience about the proper use of protection. They claim to "just give the facts". Bet they don't include the classic demonstration of how to apply a condom on the piece of fruit trick. And without knowing how to properly use the damn things they can fail at an alarming rate. So if you tell your kiddos that condoms fail at "x" percentage rate but fail to tell them that this rate can be significantly reduced by simply knowing how to put the suckers on and use them appropriately, aren't you in fact misinforming?

More importantly, rather than argue over what's said or not said about protection in relation to premarital sex, why not face the facts that say this approach isn't keeping kids from having sex? That ultimately this is a personal decision that must be made by each and every one of us at some time in our life. When we decide to take that step, whenever it is, doesn't it behoove us to know how to prevent pregnancy and STDs?

I'm all for a comprehensive, reality based approach to sex education. There are plenty of good reasons why its better for teens to wait before becoming sexually active that run the gamut from emotional to psychological to physical. But the truth of the matter is that a percentage of teens will have sex. They need to know how to protect themselves and their partners.

The ultimate goal of both programs is to reduce the teen pregnancy and STD rates. The only 100% effective way to prevent pregnancy and disease transmission is abstinence. But in the real world, you and I both know that our teenagers are sexually active. Like so many things, we can only do so much before we have to let them go. If they're going to have sex, I would much rather they know how to keep themselves safe.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Spin, Baby, Spin

Bush, Cheney, Rice et al are trying desperately to put a positive spin on Bush's presidency. They seem to be following the general idea that if you "tell me three times" it must be true. Cheney, the dog, seems to actually think that in 20 or 30 years folks will look back on the Bush years with nostalgia.

Ha!

No matter what lies these folks try to pawn off, the truth is known. Bush is the single worse president to ever sit in the White House. Cheney has no respect for the American people, doesn't care what they think and believes that the President has to make the hard decisions that we're not capable of making. Rice thinks that she's actually managed to set a good foundation for future foreign policy despite the fact that the Pew Survey shows the US image abroad suffering almost everywhere. Since foreign policy isn't a popularity contest, according to Rice, none of that matters. Sure it doesn't. You keep telling yourself that chickie.

There's been lots of talk about charging the Bush administration with War Crimes. While this would undoubtedly feel really good in the short term, I can't see it actually happening. For one, Obama won't want to set that kind of precedent, so he won't be doing the charging. It will be up to the international community to bring charges and since they seem incapable of acting unless the mass murder of civilians can be proven, the likelihood is low. Indeed, the US has never been charged with War Crimes. No matter how universally disliked Bush and Cheney are around the world, I don't believe that they will be charged with anything. Even if they deserve it.

So, while they try desperately to place a shine on their records in the waning days of their administration, the best part of their remaining time is that it is so mercifully short.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

100!!

Technically, it's number 101, but I don't really count the one in December of last year since there was a serious gap before I actually started blogging regularly. Besides, it's a 100 posts for this year.

When I mentioned a few days ago to hubby that I was going to reach 100 posts soon, he was dumbfounded. He seemed surprised that I has managed to squeeze so many posts in just under three months. I had 7 posts total before September and the election cycle drove me to the interwebs on an almost daily basis and I found myself writing just as a release from the insanity. I was up to almost daily blogging in no time at all.

I learned a few things these last few months and I thought I'd share them.

First, this whole blogging thing is much easier and at the same time more difficult than I thought it would be. Finding topics to write about was certainly easy as we drew closer to November 4. Since then, some days I have to really look to find something interesting, but on the whole the slow days are usually covered by the ones with multiple posts. Its harder in the sense that I'm learning about the dreaded html. Just baby steps though. I have no real desire to learn to actually write anything that resembles code.

Second, I was beginning to feel like I was a true black sheep. Since starting this blog and diving head first into the blogosphere, I've discovered there are quite a few inmates out there that, at the very least, lean my way on most things. I can't tell you how comforting and enabling that is. Growing up in Texas in a fairly conservative family, I was always the black sheep concerning many, many things. Add to that the factoid that my family and I had been attending the same Episcopal church for 13 years while living in one of the most conservative counties in the state, and I was beginning to think I was a lone voice crying in the wilderness. You could say the blogosphere was a set of hearing aids and I can now hear all the other voices out there with me. And people like politicians and pundits don't count. I'm talking knowing real people with real mortgages and real problems agree with me is just fantastic.

When I started this little experiment, I never thought that anyone outside of my immediate family and a few friends would read it. Now I find that I have folks in Turkey and Indonesia that have bookmarked this site! (And if you would say "Hi!" it would be the stupendous!) I have other bloggers whom I read that read my blog and leave comments. Dude, that is just so...I don't know...awesome sounds so lame. As a Journalism major and closet (incomplete) novelist, the fact that someone actually reads what I write and takes them time to comment on it is frighteningly addictive.

I hope that all of you continue to find something amusing to read here. I will do my best to keep up my end of our collective bargain.

May the coming New Year find us all happy, healthy and without writer's block!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Bless Us One And All

Another one of my family's Christmas Eve traditions is to watch the Muppet Christmas Carol. The music is one of the best parts of the movie. Here's a favorite:



Have a Happy Holiday.

Merry Christmas!

Well, it's a balmy 66 degrees here in Central Texas.  The cold is gone for now.  The sun is shining and its a typical Texas Christmas.

All the gifts are wrapped, the tamales are bought and all that's left is the waiting. My family opens gifts on Christmas Eve and Santa comes on Christmas morning.  Hubby's family is in Nebraska and we can't afford to visit.  My parents and older sister are gone and I don't really get along well with my remaining sib, so its just the four of us.  We'll open gifts tonight, go to the late service at church and come home and hubby and I will collapse after stuffing the stockings.  It's not so bad now that the girls are 20 and 18.  Fewer expectations.  It made for some late nights when the girls were little.  Now we just have to make sure the dogs don't get into anything.

I hope those of you to the North get a break in the weather.  While it's been a long, long time since I had a White Christmas, I don't really envy you all.  Stay warm.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Best $1.35 Ever Spent


I collect Santas but haven't had a new one in a while since I like to find unique ones.  Well, this one certainly qualifies.  Courtesy of our local Salvation Army store, I give you Santa.  That's a painted tin bucket he has for a head and a body made of Christmas Pooh fabric.  It even has something inside so it will sit up on its own.

Outstanding!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Random thoughts

First off, I know I shouldn't complain, especially since so many of you are facing really cold and nasty winter weather, but it's COLD!  It's 36 degrees here in Central Texas and while it isn't snowing (what's that?) it's still pretty frigid for us.   The last time it snowed here, except for the 30 minute window on December 10th which I slept through, was February 14, 2004.  Before that you might have to go all the way back to 1987.  Snow is a rare thing here.  Ice, we get a little more often, say once every 5 years or so.  Needless to say, no one here has the slightest idea how to drive in the crap and it shuts the city down.  So, while it could be worse, it's still cold.

Second, we have squirrels and roof rats.  Ugh.  Apparently, since we had a wet spring year before last and a mild winter last year, followed by a dry fall so far, the population of rats in the area skyrocketed and the poor foraging prospects because of the lack of rain have driven the little fucks indoors.  This is how my husband explained it, at least.  So the good news is, we're not alone in this house sharing thing.  The bad news is they're a bear to get rid of.  And the squirrels?  Well, our chimney is settling and leaving a lovely gap that needs to be filled.  Until it is, it's a open door for squirrels.  So, we're going about poisoning the rats and hubby plans on filling in all the gaps on his vacation.  Me?  I'm just ready for the late night plinko games to end.  Seems like the rats favorite pastime is to scurry and tumble about around 3 am.  Joy. And the dogs are being driven to distraction by the squirrels.  Said rodents seem to have an uncanny ability to drive canines insane.  I think they do it on purpose.

Third, Dick Cheney.  Wow.  His statement about the president being able to do anything he wants as long its "for the protection of the country" reminds me of Nixon.  Eldest and I were watching TV the other night and an ad for Frost/Nixon came on.  In it Nixon says, when the president does it, it means it is not illegal.  She turns to me and says, "Did he really say that?"  So, yeah, sweetheart, he did.  And apparently he's not alone in his delusion.  Scary stuff.  While not a fan of Shrub, I am so glad nothing happened to him these past 8 years cause then we would have be stuck with Mr Looney Toons. Thank God for little favors.

Fourth, seen a lot of talk lately about Sarah Palin and emails or comments made by neo-cons calling for all sorts of nasty things to be done to Obama or to prepare for the End Times.  Crazy talk, all of it.  While the internet had a remarkable effect on this election cycle, let us not forget that it opened the door for all insanity opinions, whether we like them or not.  Those emails or comments calling for violence certainly need to be brought to the attention of the proper authorities. The rest, unfortunately, have to be left alone.  If we want to live in a society that has freedom of speech, it means that we have to put up with speech we find offensive.  Further, feeding the wingnuts only gives them ammunition.

Fifth, speaking of wingnuts, did anyone see the segment of Hannity and Colmes with Ann Coulter?  Colmes tries his best to call Coulter on her craziness but was fairly ineffective.  Maybe that's why he's leaving the show.  Any way, she makes some comment about Obama taking the oath of office on the Koran.  Colmes is like, not that again.  And she says, no he's not a Muslim.  He's an atheist. All liberals are atheists. (my emphasis) How can people watch this bitch and take her seriously?  I mean, really.  All liberals are atheists?  Really? Shit.  I did not know that.  That explains so much. Argggh!!

Lastly,  on the economic woes facing all of us.  I don't begin to understand economics.  All I know is if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, we have to call it what it is- a depression.  Hopefully, we will not have to capitalize it or see a repeat of the 1930s.  Here's hoping that all of you and yours stay gainfully employed or find employment soon.  I hope my kids, currently in college, can find jobs in a few years when they graduate.  Mr. Obama has his work cut out for him.  I hope he's up to the task.

Stay warm and have a lovely winter break/Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Solstice!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

And So It Begins...



What we all expected to happen has begun.  The Yes on 8 sponsors have hired Kenneth Starr (yes, that Kenneth Starr) to head their legal action to see the 18,000 gay marriages performed in California between the court ruling and the Prop 8 vote made invalid.  Guess we knew that was really going to be their plan all along.


The only good news in all of this is that the California AG Jerry Brown has changed course and will urge the California Supreme Court to void Prop 8 saying that the measure is unconstitutional because it denies a basic right to a minority group. Adding, the authors of the state Constitution did not intend "to put a group's right to enjoy liberty to a popular vote." 


Should be interesting to watch.  Personally, I think that Brown's stance is not only morally right but legalistically correct.  But the other side has some big guns arguing on its side.  As always, California is at the forefront of this kind of legislation.  I have to believe that the outcome is going to be in the favor of  same sex marriage and that the defeats that have been suffered recently will only be temporary.  Think of them as the death throes of a dying movement.


And while we're at it, we need to appeal to Obama to sign on to the UN initiative calling for global decriminalization of homosexuality. Currently, BushCo refuses. Those opposed to this declaration, namely the Vatican and The Organization of Islamic States,  believes that to force countries to decriminalize homosexuality is the first step to forcing them to recognize same sex marriages from other countries.  It can't be because it's morally reprehensible that 86 countries have a total ban on male homosexuality with penalties ranging from a few years to life in prison.  In 7 countries, the penalty is death. No its because its a sneaky way of forcing the entire world to accept same sex marriage.  Get a life.


I think its clear why the Chinese consider "May you live in interesting times" a curse. But if it's our lot to live through this tumultuous time,  we might as well stand up and be heard while we're watching.





Friday, December 19, 2008

Move over Grandpa

I work in an office where at least half of the staff are young enough to be my children.  Now, I'm not all that old.  44 is not ancient, but hey.  My oldest daughter is 20.  My co-worker across from me is 23.  There are others in the office just as young or just a few years older.

I want to tell them not to act too smug.  I don't feel old, most days.  I want to warn them that those 20 odd years flew by.  That one day, they too will wake up and look at their forty-year-old self in the mirror and wonder what the hell happened to 30.  Holy crap!  Ima getting old.

I actually told one of them at the Christmas party last night that he was too young to be married.  Maybe it was the mexican martini's talking but damn, these kids seem so much like, well, kids. 

Maybe its just that they're so close in age to my own kids that it scares me a little to think that they too will soon be out in the world.  I'm not sure the world is ready for them.  Hell, I'm  not sure I'm ready.

So, while I don't now nor have I really ever thought 40 was old, every now and then I look around the office and wonder...

Bush and You Tube

Bush is grateful that he didn't have to contend with YouTube during his campaigns for President. No such luck when it came to actually being in office, however.

I think perhaps the man has a point. YouTube and its wonderful ability to capture people at their goofiest helped defeat John McCain.  Certainly, Obama's artful use of the internet had no small part in his victory.  Gone are the days when a politican can say whatever he wants to whomever he wants and not really have to worry about any inherent contradictions, falsehoods or incoherencies.  And YouTube doesn't just affect the politician but everyone that endorses, speaks for or otherwise puts out their two cents worth about them. 

YouTube gives lie to the many efforts of wingnuts everywhere to recast the Bush presidency in a positive light.  All it takes is to do a search for Bush on YouTube and one can find oh so many instances captured forever on videotape of the Shrub's eloquence and brilliance. There are so many its hard to choose just one.  But this one is a good start:



Eloquence - certainly not.  Brillance - uh, no.  31 days and counting...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Project for Awesome 2008

I've mentioned Hank and John Green before and the Nerdfighters.  Well, last year they created a little project for their Nerdfighter followers and lo and behold they took over You Tube for a day.  Members made videos about their favorites charities, uploaded them to You Tube with a "Project for Awesome" thumbnail embedded in the video. The result?  By uploading their videos and discussing them, they took over the Most Viewed and Most Discussed pages on You Tube.  Every video thumbnail has the Project for Awesome thumbnail showing.

This year, my daughters entered the fray,  This is their entry.  John and Hank Green will both donate $1000 to a charity featured in the Project for Awesome. The best way for their video to get this honor is for lots and lots and lots and lots of people to view it and comment it on it.  Since they're discussing a topic near and dear to my heart, I think you should definitely watch it here and then go to You Tube and watch it there and comment like crazy.



The link to the You Tube page is here.

Thanks for your support.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Apple Cheer



Macs Rule!

Wordle



Hmm...seems like I need to find a thesaurus and find a new word for "companies". Though I do like the part about "penguins get doozie" and "dwarf Bush". Thanks, Middle Aged Woman. This was entertaining.

Santa Bush

Watch it and weep.  Then write your Congressman.



We need to hold accountable those in Congress who are sitting by and letting this happen.  For a full list of the atrocities Bush is trying to slip by us, look here.  Much thanks to the Huffington Post for their reporting on this issue.

Monday, December 15, 2008

How Low Will They Go?

Apparently, pretty fucking low.

Burger King, that paragon of American fast food, has sunk lower than ever before.  Personally, I hate the "King" and all the stupid, low-brow, intelligence insulting, idiotic ads that whatever advertising agency they have on call keeps coming up with.  I think it goes something like this:  Let's have some kid in a whopper suit and call him "Junior".  Surely they'll say "no".  It's like they keep daring Burger King to nix to their stupid ideas and yet they keep airing one idiotic commercial after another.

Well, now they have created an all-time, no holes barred, can't imagine where they'll go next, stupid idea.  Behold, a fragrance with a hint of flame-broiled meat.  So now you don't have to eat a Whopper to smell like one.

I shit you not.



Oi.  And in case you're like my husband and think this is just a joke, this tasteless crap sells for $3.99 at Ricky's NYC.

Score One for the Penguins!

A pair of gay penguins in China, of all places, have been allowed to care for an egg taken by zookeepers from an inexperienced pair.  Apparently these two have been quite inventive in their efforts to raise a family going so far as to steal an egg from an unsuspected fellow penguin and, here's the best part, replacing it with a stone!


Research into the sexuality of animals is limited and often seemingly wedded to the idea of sex for reproduction.  However, one Norwegian museum is trying to dispel a few myths.  The Norwegian Natural History Museum "Against Nature's Order?" exhibition focuses on the 1,500 species with recorded instances of  homosexual behavior.  Many primates, especially the dwarf chimpanzee, are truly bisexual and use sex to resolve conflicts.  Lions, dolphins and killer whales form close male-only groups where sex is used to reinforce the bond.  With many birds that mate for life, such as penguins, 4-5% of the pairings are homosexual.  These pairs reproduce by mating with the opposite sex and then raising the chick on their own.  Sounds kinda familiar, doesn't it?


This certainly seems to provide ample evidence that "it ain't natural" is not a valid argument against homosexuality.  If this penguin couple manages to raise their egg successfully and their little chick in turn goes out and finds himself a mate, they could be the poster children for the entire LGBT movement.  









Oops! He Did it Again

Bush has left one more skid mark on his way out the door. And, in my opinion, it's a doozie.

Apparently, at the last minute, the Bush administration insisted on a one-sentence change to the $700 billion bailout that cut the legs out from under the provisions to set limits on executive compensation and provide penalties to companies that broke the rules. The change restricted the penalty to companies that received funds by selling assets to the government via auction. Since Paulson and the administration have decided to spend most of our money by simply giving it to ailing companies, this means that these companies have slipped through a mighty large loophole.

The best, make that worst, part is that Paulson was telling Congress that direct funding of companies was going to be rare and that most would receive their funding after auctioning assets. He tells them this while planning to do the opposite. None of the $335 BILLION dollars dished out by the government so far as gone through the auction process.

So, while you and I might complain about the outrageous executive "cash awards", bonuses or tax breaks, there appears that there is little if anything that can be done. I wasn't even aware of the practice of deducting compensation payments from a company's taxable income. Basically they get to give this money away to their executives and not count it as income. The provision, before it got screwed by BushCo, banned any deduction over $500,000, changed the tax code and allowed the IRS to impose penalties. But no more!

Essentially this little one line change to the law stripped it of any oversight capabilites.

Way to go Junior. Why don't you retire to Maine with Daddy and stay the hell out of Texas!

Friday, December 12, 2008

The New Look


Well, after much fuss, I have a new template in place.  It was a trial, I'll tell you.

I sat down at 5:30 and it's now 11:12.  The first template didn't work at all and worse yet must have been corrupt because when I tried to restore the old one, it failed.  After many restarts of the browser, clearing of caches and one reboot, I finally got the old one back up and had to recreate every single html widget, photo and link.  It sucked.

I finally found a template I like that seems to work.  I found it on Blogger Templates.  It's by Templates para novo blogger.  The only part I don't like is the Blogger nav bar won't show and my lurkers comment boxes are MIA as well.

Still, it certainly looks more interesting, has the three columns I wanted and I even managed to make it a bit wider so the You Tube clips fit better.  Whee.  Lookit me!  I know zero html.

So, I am now tired and will most likely be slogging my way to Denton tomorrow morning at the ass crack of dawn to pick up my eldest and her roomie for winter break. Time for some zzzzzs.




Oh, Wow. Just...Wow.





News from the Weird


So, I just heard this really surreal radio ad for Joe's Crab Shack featuring a Sarah Palin impersonator. I wish I could remember exactly how it went but my mind is like a sieve and only the really big parts get stuck in the net.

She was ranting something about there finally being a winner in Alaska, I think. I was so stuck on the idea of Joe's using Sarah Palin to sell their restaurant that I was in shock.

Anyway, listen for it and let me know what it actually said.

In other news from the weird, Texas-style:

Our wacko Governor Rick Perry has decided that since Bush is set to fade into history (do I hear a big hurrah?) there needed to be another Texas politician to make fun of. He's protesting the idea of carbon caps and how devasting that will be to the Texas economy.

Maybe he doesn't realize that, according to the Wall Street Journal, Texas has "almost twice as much electrical generating capacity from wind turbines as second-place state, California". Texas is still by far the nation's top carbon-dioxide-emitting state and largest coal consumer, but there are signs that we're starting to see the light.

The state's largest electricity provider favors a cap-and-trade system. But my favorite part about the entire WSJ article was the quote from State Sen. Kip Averitt, R-Waco.

Averitt, who heads the Natural Resources Committee, "recently told the Waco Tribune-Herald that in the past, being an environmental-minded politician in Texas meant 'you were considered a communist and you couldn't get elected. Now, if you're not an environmentalist you're a goober, and you can't get elected'."

Dude. Only in Texas.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Of Ovaries and Cheeseflux


Warning:  All males need read no further-

Still here?  Well it goes something like this:

My youngest and friends of both daughters tell me I'm an evil woman.  They're probably right but on at least one count, I'm innocent. It's not my fault that I was never plagued by cramps...until now.

At 44, I've decided that the reason I'm just now experiencing cramps can be traced to one of two things.  Either there's more to the "synching" up process than hitherto-for known or my ovaries are trying to squeeze out the last of my eggs.

Frankly, I think it's the second.  I can just see it.  It's like someone is trying to squeeze the last drop of toothpaste from an otherwise empty tube.  Fortunately, they're not so bad, but it is odd and not a little bit disconcerting to someone who had previously escaped the monthly hell.

I shared this idea with my husband (that's what you're supposed to do, right?  Share?)  His response was to be sure and tell him in advance when the last one was due to be squeezed out so he could plan on being out of the country.  Very funny.  Ha. Ha.

And he tells me that telling my daughter I was going to use the term cheeseflux here is further evidence that I am more of a nerd than he is.  (Poor guy,  He's outnumbered at home since his only male companionship comes in the form of two neutered dogs.  But still)  He's an engineer who reads science fiction and fantasy, plays role playing games and bridge on the computer until all hours and is a big fan of Star Wars, Star Trek and Lord of the Rings, etc.  The only part about being a nerd he's missing is the horn rim glasses and pocket protector.

And me you say?  

I'm not an engineer.  


AIG Keeps Stealing


So, AIG, after agreeing to forgo executive bonuses, decides to give "cash awards" as "retention bonuses" to top people in the firm. Apparently, they need anywhere from $92,500 to $4,000,000. Yes that's right its not enough that these folks are already receiving salaries between $160,000 to $1,000,000 a year. Apparently, they're such a flight risk that AIG has to throw huge "cash awards" at them to keep them from leaving.

Does this piss anyone else off? I mean, really folks, how can these ass hats sleep at night? We've given the $152 BILLION dollars to save their company and they think throwing millions at their employees after agreeing to skip this year's bonuses, is perfectly okay.

I say the government needs to take back their, excuse me, our money and say sayonara to these dipshits.

ARGGGH!!!!



The Future is Closer Than You Think


Intel announced that it's researching a technology that would allow devices like cell phones to recharge themselves from the harvesting of free energy in the environment. Tiny sensors would capture energy from sources as diverse as sunlight and body heat to power personal electronic devices.

There are already watches that run on body heat and prototype smart phones whose display screens double as solar cells.

There are quite a few uses for something like this. One example Intel gives is having an accelerometer embedded in a building powered by sensors that harvest energy from the radiation of a nearby cell tower. With no batteries to service and no power source other than the sensor, the device would completely self-contained.

It will be sometime, Intel admits, before this technology is ready to be incorporated in consumer devices. But when it does, the world is gonna change.

Imagine devices that need no recharging. That are completely self-contained. The possibilities are endless. Not just your cell phone could benefit. Anything that has a battery could benefit. Your cell phone, your computer, maybe even your car.

Combine this with the flexible semiconductors and we could soon be wearing our personal communicators. Think this is too like Star trek? Check this out:



We are on the brink of a new sea change. Within the next decade or two, we will see these personal devices change not only how they look but how we use them. Already it's hard to imagine not having a cell phone. My family doesn't even have a landline any longer. And the phone I currently have is a far cry from my first. That first one was clunky and almost too damn big to fit into my purse. The one I have now is so small I lose it sometimes and it has a 1GB flash drive so I don't need a separate MP3 player.

It's kinda like the difference between my original Mac and the Mac Mini we're looking at buying now. My original was all state-of-the-art and had an external disk drive so you didn't have to eject the operating disk to save a file. It had all of 512K of storage. It was a sad, sad day when the sad Mac appeared to let me know it was dead.



The Mac Mini we're looking at now has 120GB of storage and 2GB of memory. It blows away the old one in every measurable sense. This in just 20 years.

So, maybe, just maybe, we'll someday have a self-powered device that we can wear (and so not lose or have to dig for) that connects to the rest of the world, keeps us informed and more.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Dump DOMA


Sign the petition to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

Repealing this Act:
1) would be a repudiation of the forces of hate and division who have long pushed to enshrine discrimination further in federal law.

2) would mean federal recognition of all marriages in states like Massachusetts and Connecticut - including the marriages of same-sex couples.

3) would stop the government from selectively withholding the 1,300 or so legal protections that only legal civil marriage affords.

4) would remove a discriminatory blemish from federal law, sending a powerful moral message.

Obama says he supports the repeal. Signing the petition is one way to push Congress into starting the legislative process. Let's let the Democrats know that we intend to stay on top of the things we believe are important and that it will not be business as usual. The electorate is awake, pissed off and watching...



Monday, December 8, 2008

Who'd a thunk?


The top google search term to find this blog is "I hate chihuahuas".

Apparently, I am not the only one who hates the little fucks.  I find this deeply amusing.  Almost as amusing as the fact that someone besides my kids reads this blog.

Thanks for stopping by.




All Hail the Idiots...


Apparently, Merrill Lynch's CEO John Thain thinks he's done such a bang up job this year that he deserves a $10,000,000 bonus.

That's right, folks. He wants $10,000,000 for selling his company to Bank of America after guiding it to an almost $12,000,000,000 loss. See that extra set of zeros? That makes it nearly 12 BILLION dollars he shepherded down the toilet.

But it gets better! Apparently, he originally asked for $30,000,000 and has come down to to $10,000,000. WTF?

This guy is CEO when Merrill Lynch, one of our nation's former major financial services companies that's been around for 80 years, tanks. And now he wants $10,000,000 for heading this cluster fuck.

THIS is what is wrong with America. This idea that you are owed major compensation as the executive of a major corporation no matter how well or how poorly that corporation performs. That in order to attract the "best" you have to pay them exorbitant amounts of money. Well these so called best have FUBARed the situation so badly that we the taxpayer are having to save their asses. And now they want a tidy little bonus 'cause they did their jobs so well.

Well, I have something to say to you, John.

FUCK NO! YOU "DESERVE" NOT ONE RED CENT.

And you can take that to the bank, asshat. Maybe it will keep you warm this winter.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Lymphatic Research Foundation


As I have mentioned on other posts my daughter and I have primary bilateral lower limb lymphedema. It's a mouthful, I know. What this means for us is that our legs swell, are more prone to infection and, at least in my case, have reduced circulation from a build up of fibrotic tissue.

The Lymphatic Research Foundation is a non-profit founded by the mother of a child with lymphedema and systemic lymphatic disease, Her search for information and treatment led her to found this organization. When she started there was a serious lack of information and knowledge. So she set out to fund research into the lymphatic system.

From the organization's website:
"Science now knows that the lymphatic system impacts virtually every function of the human body in health and illness. Despite this, the lymphatics have been historically neglected in both medical school curricula and research institutions. Inadequate methods to diagnose lymphatic disorders and minimally effective therapies are available, with little or no attention paid to the needs of those afflicted by these diseases.

LRF has significantly promoted the field of lymphatic research that promises breakthroughs in therapeutic treatments and cures not only for lymphatic disease, lymphedema, and related disorders, but for a multitude of other diseases

It is critically important to continue this successful momentum. Science has opened a new frontier in lymphatic research: lymphagiogenesis, which is the formation of new lymphatic vessels to repair or replace damaged or deficient lymphatics in the body. This promises life enhancing changes for those suffering from lymphatic disorders. Lymphagiogenesis has also opened a new dimension in cancer research and how cancer spreads through the body. Clearly, promoting lymphatic research promises a healthier future and a better quality of life for millions of people worldwide."

I have formed a website through Firstgiving to gather donations for this important research. (H/T to Black Hockey Jesus and his use of the Firstgiving widget) There is a direct link on this blog. I hope that I will be able to surpass my modest goal of $500 from the generous donations of fellow bloggers, friends and family. This organization and the research it funds is the single best hope for my daughter and myself to someday live free of this life-changing disease.

Thanks in advance.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Ah!! The list! It grows!


Okay, there are way too many good blogs out there and they lead me to other blogs and its just an incestuous, crazy circle of love.

It's great.

This week's newbies (to me) are:
Unmitigated
Partly Cloudy
Respectful Insolence
Literal Dan
THE WIND IN YOUR VAGINA

That last one made me laugh out loud and want to cry. If you haven't read it, go do it now. Really. I'll wait.

Back? Cool, huh?

Soon I will have to do away with the cute little pictures and last posts and just have a simple list. But not yet. ; )

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Hope Springs


I've owned a lot of dogs over the years. Short dogs, tall dogs, little dogs, big dogs, boy dogs, girl dogs. It doesn’t really matter. With all of them I've noticed something that may or may not have profound relevance. Hope springs eternal in the heart of a dog.

No matter their training or how often you might give them people food, if ever, they are always hopeful that today will be their lucky day. Today, you'll give in to the begging and sorrowful looks and drop a tasty tidbit on the floor. But here's the amazing part, even if you don't share that tasty something you're eating, they're okay. Oh, they may sulk for a moment or two but a tummy rub or scratch behind the ear and they're as grateful as if you'd given them that snack. Eternally hopeful and eternally grateful all in one package.

It takes a lot to kill this hope in a dog. It can be done, just like it can in a person, and in much the same way. But for the most part, dogs are loving, giving simple creatures that believe in our essential goodness in a way that's hard to describe. My dog loves me unconditionally- even after I've nearly fallen down laughing at something stupid he did or chastised him for chewing up something he shouldn't. He doesn't scold me for forgetting to pay a bill or hold a grudge when I tell someone about his latest encounter with the evil plastic bag. He's always hopeful that I'll give him something tasty to eat or take him on a car ride. When he gets to go for a ride, he's thrilled, but if I leave him at home, he's just as thrilled to see me when I return. Eternally hopeful and eternally grateful.

Some people believe that dogs can't communicate just because they can't verbalize, and that somehow makes them lesser beings without a soul. How can anything that loves unconditionally and sees the hope in every encounter be a lesser being? I'd argue the reverse. I think that dogs are closer to God than we are. They certainly seem to embody the love thy neighbor thing a lot better than us. In fact, I think that if we're really good and very, very lucky, we get to come back as a dog. I, for one, would love to be able to see the good in everyone, to be hopeful that every encounter will work out for the best and be grateful, truly grateful, for everything I have. Remember... eternally hopeful and eternally grateful.

While there are a few behaviors my dog displays that I'd just as soon forget about, for the most part I think I could learn a good bit from him. I've written about them before, but they bear repeating: Be exuberantly happy to see all my friends and family, even if I just saw them five minutes ago. Greet everyone with a smile. Be content to just "be" with someone. Play hard. Eat only when I'm hungry unless it’s a tasty treat. Those are good any time. Try to behave and be genuinely sorry when I misbehave. Love unconditionally. Be eternally hopeful and eternally grateful.

So this is to Chipper, Suzie, Jodie, Dingo, Loche, Scooter, Rowan and Myrddin. Thank you for sharing yourselves and being a part of my family.

The Trevor Project


I found this while reading Joe. My. God.. He, too, has an ad for this organization on his blog. So, I clicked it. Not something I usually do. I mean, who needs more ads? But the title caught my eye.

This organization runs a suicide prevention hotline for LGBT teens. It's a resource I'd like to promote. Here's hoping that one day they aren't needed.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

While the Big 3 Go Begging...


Hawaii goes electric.

Hawaii has contracted with Better Place to build electric car stations statewide. Better Place plans to power these stations with a zero carbon footprint.

Better Place chose Hawaii for several reasons. The islands are a closed environment with few cars going in and out. It also has a variety of renewable energy sources already in place. For example, Better Place will use the energy from Hawaiian wind farms to recharge overnight when their power normally goes unused.

So, this is pretty cool. They hope to have it up and running by 2011. Ford, as part of its restructuring plan, will accelerate the roll out of it electric vehicles. Better Place already has gotten Nissan/Renault to agree to build plug-in vehicles that will recharge at their stations.

The Big 3 appear to actually have a plan this go 'round, have sold their corporate jets and will be driving hybrid vehicles to Washington and are talking about cutting back management bonuses, merit raises and executive salaries. Now if they can just build an electric car that people will buy...

Freeing ourselves from our addiction to oil will not be easy, but with folks like Better Place leading the way, it just got a little easier.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Bush's Proposed Rule Change in re Abortion


Okay, I've found a copy of the actual proposal (H/T to Pam's House Blend) After slogging through the legalese, I've come to the following the conclusions:
1) The proposed rule isn't a rule change as much as it is a way to enforce those rules already in place.
2) The proposed rules and new definitions are contradictory
3) Bush is still an ass.
4) There is much room for abuse.

Point one: This rule mentions three "amendments" already in place. One, known collectively as the Church Amendments, was written in the 1970s and was created to specifically address conscientious objectors to abortion. Another, known as the Weldon Amendment, already defines "health care entity" in almost the same language as the proposed rule. The third, The Public Health Services Act from 1996, addresses funding and non-discriminatory practices. The gist of the proposed rule is to require that health care providers certify that they will comply with these rules in much the same way that they already certify that they will abide by federal nondiscrimination laws regarding race, color, national origin, religion, sex, handicap, age, drug abuse, and alcohol abuse or alcoholism.

Point Two: Here's where things get dicey. The rule attempts to define certain terms that the Department of Health and Human Services feels are unclear. Most importantly, they define "the term “assist in the performance” to members of an entity’s workforce, the Department proposes to include participation in any activity with a reasonable connection to the objectionable procedure, including referrals, training, and other arrangements for offending procedures." This means that anyone even peripherally involved in the "procedure" can refuse to participate if the "procedure" violates their conscience. They also define "health service program" to include Medicare and Medicaid but later say that three exceptions to the written certification are : "(1) physicians, physician offices, and other health care practitioners participating in Part B of the Medicare program; (2) physicians, physician office, or other health care practitioners which participates in Part B of the Medicare program, when such individuals or organizations are sub-recpients of Department funds through a Medicare Advantage plan; and (3) sub-recipients of state Medicaid programs (i.e., any entity that is paid for services by the state Medicaid program)." Their rationale: there's too many of them. This part is so confusing I'm going to quote it in its entirety:

"While other providers participating in the Medicare program as well as state Medicaid programs would be required to submit written certification of compliance to the Department, the large number of entities included in these three categories poses significant implementation hurdles for Departmental components and programs. Furthermore, the Department believes that, due primarily to their generally smaller size, the excepted categories of recipients and sub-recipients of Department funds are less likely to encounter the types of issues sought to be addressed in this regulation."

Doesn't this look like to you that in one part of that sentence they say there's too many of them and they would overwhlem the department and then they say in the next sentence that these categories will be smaller and less likely to encounter abortions? Is anyone else confused by this?

So they try to broaden the definitions in the current regulations while at the same time they contradict themselves in who is supposed to provide this all important written certification.

Point 3: Self-explanatory.

Point 4: Though they do say several times that this proposed rule is in regards to abortion and sterilization, by addressing these points in broad and general language, they open them to broad and general interpretation. For example, the proposed rule states: "The statutory provisions discussed above require that the Department and recipients of Department funds (including State and local governments) refrain from discriminating against institutional and individual health care entities for their participation or refusal to participate in certain medical procedures or services, including certain health services, or research activities funded in whole or in part by the federal government." (my emphasis) To me, this looks like a way for "health care entities" to opt out of a whole plethora of services up to and including stem cell research, abortions, birth control and even the refusal of care for transgendered or homosexual persons.

This is the slippery slope that I've referenced before. We already have ample protections in place for those who have a conscientious objection to abortion. Expanding that to include "participation in any activity with a reasonable connection to the objectionable procedure" could be interpreted to mean that not only could a doctor or hospital or anyone working or volunteering for them could refuse to perform an abortion or provide materials, training or assistance for abortions but they could refuse to perform or to provide assistance to any procedure they found objectionable. The concern is that this "rule" could be used to permit the refusal of hormone treatments for transgendered individuals, artificial insemination for lesbians and more.

I am at once torn and angered. Torn because I believe that individuals have the right of refusal and the right to follow their conscience, religious and cultural beliefs. And angered because I see this as one more way to control women by limiting their options and to start the slide towards prejudicial treatment of an entire subset of our nation. It is an old quandary for any democratic society: can the rights of one group supersede the rights of another?

I have a friend who is a devout Catholic and a nurse. Where do her rights to follow her religion and her personal ethics end and the rights of her patients to receive treatment and information begin? There is no easy answer. For in granting one, we deny the other. There must be a balance in our society between the rights of opposing groups. My friend has the right to refuse to perform abortions, but does that right extend to refusing to give information because it might result in an outcome she finds personally abhorrent? This rule would say that the answer is yes.

Yet how can we as a society condone the potential of refusal of care for LGBT persons because their EMT or doctor or the janitor might find their "lifestyle" objectionable? Are we really ready to deny the inherent humanity of these individuals? How can we as a society tell the rape victim that she has to interrogate her ER doctor or nurse on their personal beliefs before she can expect to find treatment to prevent a potential pregnancy? How far will we go to accommodate the religious beliefs of one group at the expense of the basic human rights of another?

When you find the answer, please let me know.

You have to watch this...




THIS is why I love dogs.

Monday, December 1, 2008

World AIDS day


More than 25 million people have died of AIDS since 1981. Half of all new HIV infections worldwide - almost 6,000 infections per day - occur among youth. Want to know what you can do about it? Go to http://www.globalcitizencorps.org.

Educate yourself on how HIV is transmitted. While we here in the US have, for the most part, learned how to combat HIV/AIDS, the truth of the global pandemic is frightening. 95% of all HIV cases are in the developing world, over half of which are in sub-Saharan Africa where the $3 a day it costs to treat HIV with anti-virals is outside the reach of most patients. There are currently 12 million AIDS orphans worldwide.

AIDS is spreading in Asia, too. While the percentages there and total numbers so far are smaller than Africa, because of the large population base it has the potential to overtake Africa if proper education is not undertaken. If HIV/AIDS jumps from the high-risk groups into the general heterosexual population, as it has in Africa, Asia could easily outstrip Africa in total numbers. Now is the time to practice prevention in Asia.

Wondering what you can do today? Go to Starbucks and buy one of the following: Peppermint Mocha Twist, Gingersnap Latte and Espresso Truffle. Starbucks will donate 5 cents per cup to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

An homage to John and Hank Green



There is this writer fellow named John Green and his brother Hank who created a little website called Brotherhood 2.0 in which they communicated only via video blog for a year, no written communication allowed. It's quite funny and somehow evolved into a movement known as Nerd Fighters. The brothers' experiment is over but still immortalized on the internet.

One of the video blogs by Hank Green has in it perhaps the funniest thing I have ever seen. I give you "The Man Who Throws the Tetris Piece"



I particularly like the party horn solo.

These two have a new website called Nerdfighters. Visit it. Join the movement. Do your part to decrease world suck.

I know my part of the world could use a little less suckage.

Friday, November 28, 2008

My dog is too smart for his own good.


So, Rowan has just once again proven that he is too smart for his own good.

Myrddin had the bone, or what was left of it, and was making his Chewbacca noises to try and encourage Rowan to play. Does Rowan take the bait and play? No, he starts poking at the stuff on the end table until he pokes the empty glass and knocks it off. I yell at him as I grab the glass. Myrddin takes off and Rowan calmly grabs the bone and takes it to his usual spot to start chewing on it.

He didn't even have the decency to look ashamed at his blatant fake out of the puppy. Kinda makes you wonder what else he's done.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!



Greetings from Texas where I've just turned on the AC!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Diatribe from a Smoker's Daughter


Okay, I may not be too popular when I'm done, but this is a topic near and dear to my heart.

I just read several lovely articles. One about how tobacco farmers in the US are rebounding. Mostly because they're exporting their product. Yes, smoking is declining in the US but apparently it's okay to export death.

Not only that, but the tobacco companies are still up to their old tricks. One in five college students smokes. One in 5. Why? Because the tobacco companies target them specifically with a million dollars a day in event sponsorships and giveaways. One in five.

Not only that, but they're working on a new product called "snus". Smokeless tobacco in neat little pouches. You still get your nicotine hit and a lovely does of carcinogens but without that nasty smoke that so many dislike. Give me a fucking break!

I worked for the American Cancer Society at one time and I can tell you with confidence that smokeless tobacco is just as nasty for you as smoking. You might get less lung disease but as a lovely trade-off you get mouth cancers that make you look like a circus freak when they're done cutting out the cancer. Yeah, that's a real positive trade off.

So, not only are they targeting college students and trying to give "alternatives" to smokers, they're still lying to you. There is not a product made by any of these companies that isn't a slow way to kill yourself.

Let me explain. My mother smoked for nearly 40 years. When the surgeon general came out with his original statements about cigarette smoking being a major cause of cancer, she didn't believe it. This despite the fact that she watched her older brother die really horribly from lung cancer. And despite the fact that she already was showing signs of serious lung damage herself.

Growing up, I watched my mother enter the hospital on an almost annual basis with pneumonia or some other respiratory infection. She had Legionnaires once, strep in her nose, thrush more times than I can count from antibiotics and generally spent about a week out of every year sick as the proverbial dog.

She gradually lost her lung capacity and her ability to walk any distance at all without gasping for breath. She took daily at-home nebulizer treatments and a whole plethora of medications: inhalers, steroids, and I don't know what else in a vain effort to keep breathing.

She spent the last ten years of her life essentially home bound. She lost the ability to do the simple things: go shopping, go bowling, do just about anything that required her to get around on her own two feet. She struggled to breathe just crossing from one side of the house to the other. It took her ten long years to slowly die. She always feared dying of lung cancer like her brother but in my opinion, she got the far worse outcome. Her COPD took away not only her ability to function but her will to live. It weakened her heart and killed her one day at a time for ten long years. Ten years, by the way, in which she didn't smoke. She managed to quit. But after 40 years, the damage was done.

And just in case you think second hand smoke doesn't kill, I can tell you with the same confidence that it does. My father smoked as a young man but stopped. My parents were married nearly fifty years. For 49 years, he lived with a smoker, but didn't smoke himself. He developed the same COPD as my mother and it killed him, too.

There is an incredibly long list of cancers that are directly related to smoking or smokeless tobacco. Go to cancer.org to see it. But cancer isn't the only way smoking kills. It's just the fastest.

If you smoke, please stop. If you're thinking about starting, please don't. It kills you slowly day by day. So slowly that you can't even tell, until the damage is done and it's too late. If I had my way, every tobacco company executive, scientist or farmer would be charged with murder. They create a product that has no redeeming value and kills not only the people directly addicted to it, but their families and innocent bystanders. Any other product with so many ways to kill people would have been outlawed long ago.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Hope you have a strong stomach....


Well, we're back. We survived our weekend at Lost Pines, taught 64 Scouts how to survive in the Great Outdoors and we're all too pooped to tango. The first day of class is about 12 hours long, followed by an early start on Sunday with scenario and moulage prep and cleaning up the camp after all the students go home. It's a looong weekend.

But, here's the fruits of my endeavors. I was sub-scenario director for the first time and got to be in charge of 5 victims and their moulage.






Cool, huh?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Heading to Lost Pines


So, we're about to head out to teach Wilderness First Aid to a bunch of Boy Scouts. My entire family, with the most recent addition of hubby, are certified Red Cross instructors for Wilderness First Aid Basics. Our Venturing Crew specializes in teaching this class. We instruct, let's see 68 this weekend, how to save their asses when backpacking in the Great Outdoors.

Our local Boy Scout council requires the course for all troops headed to Philmont. So, we have a steady supply of victims. Speaking of which, we go whole hog and create scenarios complete with moulage to test their skills at the end of class. We have fun.



That's a piece of metal in his back. On site, we'll dig a small hole, have him lay down, and voila! hidden injury. We're sneaky that way.

More images to come on Sunday.

Rep. Henry Waxman


Okay, every time I see this guy on the tube I can't listen to what he's saying cause he's so damn fugly.



I mean, look at him! Gak!

I think he's a good choice for the chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. It's about time we had an environmentalist in this position. As long as I don't have to look at him too often...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Okay, this is just too funny...



I have to share. Go to this website and watch the "trailer".

They're coming to your town! Oooh. I'm scared. Except for the fact that "they" are already here. And just what is the gay agenda? Can someone tell me?

Personally, I like the one at BarkBarkWoofWoof.

Except for the 4 a.m. part.

Pirates!


Apparently, Somali pirates have released two ships after receiving $1.67 million for one and an undisclosed amount for the other. They currently hold a Saudi supertanker with $100 million in oil. They want $25 million in ransom.

Pirates? In this day and age? What the hell? As long as companies and nations keep paying ransoms, this idiots will keep taking ships. Apparently, they're pretty damn good at it if they can capture a ship like that oil tanker.

This is nuts. I know its a hard sell to the families of the hostages and I feel for them, but paying the ransom only encourages these douche bags. The Russians are all for attacking the pirates' land bases. The U.N. Security Council wants to impose sanctions and freeze assets of individuals providing support to the pirates.

This is a situation where the judicious application of force is required. For once, the Russians have the right idea.

Transgender Day of Remembrance




Today is the 10th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. Please check out Things according to me to see a list of those who have died for this past year.

Let's hope that someday very soon there will be no one new on this list. In the words of Rodney King, "Can we all get along"?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Speak out!


In case you don't already know, Bush is trying to sneak through regulations that will allow health care providers to choose to define contraceptives as abortion and thus allow them to "opt out" of providing contraceptives as against their consciences.

I urge you to go to Planned Parenthood's website and send a message to Washington that you disagree with this proposal.

For a complete picture on how the Bush administration tried to sneak this one by and the outrage that ensued, read this.

Bush ain't done yet but we can still scream from the rooftops and not let him get away with this abomination.

Who says bloggers have no power?



Check this out.

Apparently, we can make a difference. When Mike Rogers of BlogActive.com discovered that a local Subway franchisee donated to to Yes on Prop 8, he contacted Subway corporate headquarters.

They responded.

Now Subway has sexual orientation and gender identity language added to their discrimination policy, using the wording suggested by the blogger. And they've asked for the donation back.

How cool is that?


Monday, November 17, 2008

To Bail or Not to Bail


It's old school day in Washington.  Everything that is old is new.

So, the Big 3 automakers are asking for some of the bail out dollars to "develop alternatives to conventional fossil fuel powered vehicles" to the tune of $50 billion dollars.  They say they need the money in order to be competitive.  There's lots of noise on both sides of this issue.  At root is the idea that these companies are somehow to "big to fail" and so important to our economy that we have to help them.

Well, I have problems with giving Detroit money.  We've already done this once with Chrysler. Despite 1.2 billion in 1979, they didn't do so well. Now they want more.  If the President of GM won't resign and the UAW blames the economy for the auto industry woes instead of their own inflated pensions, I don't see why we as Americans should leverage their bad business practices.  Neither one wants to make any concessions.  Neither one wants to admit they may have had a hand in running the American auto industry to ground.
 
What ever happened to the idea of supply and demand?  If a business can't compete, it goes under.  Make poor investment decisions? Tough cookies.   It's as simple as that.  Just because they're large and employ lots of people is no reason for the government to step in and throw money at them.  We let the airline industry file bankruptcy, why not the auto makers?  At least under bankruptcy law there will be regulations and methods of restructuring that can conceivably purge the idiots and get them back on sound footing.

I simply don't get why it's so important that these guys not fail.  Unfortunately, I think the bail out is inevitable.  The consensus in Washington seems to be that we have to do this but we're going to "add strings".  Sure we are.  Worked really well the last time, didn't it?



Sunday, November 16, 2008

I was a Reagan-era zombie


I came of age with Ronald Reagan as President. I just missed being able to vote against him the first time and watched with utter dismay as he won in what can only be described as a landslide in 1984.

Reagan scared the shit out of me the entire time he was in office. Let me say that again, with emphasis. Ronnie was scary!!! As a child of the 70s, I grew up under the threat of nuclear war. In some ways, my generation never believed that we would survive. Listening to Ronnie rant about the "Evil Empire" and drone on about how we needed to protect ourselves from the godless commies was never my favorite thing.

Reagan's "Star Wars" missile defense system was poorly thought out and provocative. It never worked, except maybe on paper. It pissed off the Russians and made them think we were looking to start a war that they would be unable to defend against. Now, somehow, Junior has tried to sneak it by us once again. Here we all were so fired up about the war in Iraq and arguing over who would replace him that we, or at least I, failed to notice when he decided to resurrect the idea of missile defense.

Folks, this shit still won't fly. It's still doesn't work. It's still provocative. And, hey, it's still pissing off the Russians. It feels like 1984 all over again.

Why would we want to travel down that path again? Is it only that this was the last time the Republicans felt like they really had control over things? Back when Ronnie Ray-gun was in office? I suppose that must be it. In the closing days of the election cycle here in Texas, we got the pleasure of hearing a radio ad run urging folks to vote Republican. The only name mentioned was Reagan's. Not a Bush or Palin or McCain in the entire thing. Just droning on about personal responsibility and voting Republican and how great Ronnie was.

Well, let me tell you my opinion. Ronald Reagan was an idiot. He didn't free the Iranian Embassy hostages, Carter did that. He takes credit for the fall of the Soviet Union. It collapsed under its own weight. Lots of people helped and maybe Ronnie had a part, but I can't really give the guy the credit. And we've seen where Reaganomics has gotten us.

So why the hell would we want to trot out a failed policy that did more to increase tensions in the Cold War than all of Ronnie's Evil Empire speeches put together? Are we really looking into starting that whole bullshit up again? Dude, cause I think Medvedev is ready to rumble.

It just isn't worth it.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hokay, I have to rant



Every day when I use the little girls room at work some moron has covered the counter top with water after washing their hands. Ok, kudos, on the whole hand washing thing but seriously. There's enough standing water there for a someone else to wash their hands.

I just can't figure out how they do it. Do they cup their hands and fill them with water to rinse and then just sort of dribble it out as the reach for a paper towel? Do they shake their hands like a wet dog or what? I mean, it's not just a few drops. I can seriously wipe off enough water into the sink to hear it hit the porcelain, enough to fill up a double handle of paper towels sometimes.

WTF? How do they not realize the sink is there to catch the water?

Exxon redux


I've decided that since Exxon has so much money, they don't need anymore of mine. Starting today, I will protest their incessant greed the only way I can-- by refraining from purchasing gas from them.

Won't you join me?

Just another note on the "glad i'm not..." meter


So, I'll have to tell my husband when he gets in tonight. Next time he goes home, he can't go to church unless he repents first.

Seems that a South Carolinian Roman Catholic priest has told his parishioners that they should refrain from taking communion if they voted for Barack Obama. They have to perform a Sacrament of Penance first and get right with God for the sin of supporting a "pro-abortion" candidate when there was a viable pro-life candidate out there.

Whew. Well, first of all, good thing that hubby's not a practicing Catholic anymore. Especially good that neither we or his family lives in South Carolina. Perfectly lovely state, I'm sure, but still.

This is so crazy. But I want, no I need, you all to know that not every Christian thinks like this. A perfect example is the Rev. Chuck Currie of the United Church of Christ. His blog has a point of view much needed in this weary war on words that seems to be the only "faith-based" news the media reports upon.

With this revelation and the Mormon church's attack on Prop 8 in California, I think it time that this nation look closely at how we determine who receives tax-exempt status. When any church uses its power, money and influence to enter the political arena by supporting legislation and candidates and further using that power to intimidate its adherents, it is far past time that they loose the privilege of tax exempt status. Far, far past time.

This is the slippery slope that the founding Father's faced when they created they idea of separation of church and state.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Exxon and Prince William Sound



Remember last week when I talked about Exxon's obscene profit and how they have fought for 20 years to weasel out of punitive damages for the Valdez spill?

Well, the story continues. There is more. Prince William Sound is remote and rugged area of Alaskan coast that was covered by an oil spill 11,000 square miles in size after the Exxon Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef on March 24, 1989. The official record states that 10.8 million gallons of crude oil were leaked by the disabled vessel.

Now, 20 years later, Exxon has received a favorable judgment that essentially lets it off the hook for reparations to the affected communities. Think the clean-up was effective? Exxon does.

Does this look clean to you?



That looks suspiciously like oil to me. How about you?

According to an article in the Guardian , "A study conducted by NOAA determined that as of early 2007 more than 26 thousand U.S. gallons (22,000 imp gal/98,000 L) of oil remain in the sandy soil of the contaminated shoreline, declining at a rate of less than 4% per year."

While the clean-up efforts at the time were hampered by the isolated location and our current technology, Exxon refuses to admit that this is still a problem. Much has been learned about how to correctly handle similar and even larger oil spills, so one can argue that we learned a valuable lesson from the Valdez spill. Environmentalists learned a lesson, certainly. But has Exxon?

I think they have not. They make BILLIONS every year. They balk at paying damages for so long that the judicial system essentially waves a white flag of surrender.

It is past time that Exxon and all the other megacorporations learned that they will be held responsible for their actions. Just like the current outrage over AIG's retreats in the face of multi-billion dollar bail-outs by America, we need to remember the outrage we felt when we watched hundreds of thousands of marine animals die, the livelihood of fellow Americans destroyed and what had once been a nearly pristine wilderness destroyed by our own addiction to oil.

We need to remember. We need to act. Think there's nothing to do in the face of such enormous greed? We must hold these corporations accountable.