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Saturday, April 30, 2005

You Know You're From Austin When...

Got this from Blogthis. Funny stuff...

You Know You're From Austin When...
So, I guess I'm sort of from Austin...

You Know You're From St. Louis When...

OK... let's see where I'm "more" from:
You Know You're From St. Louis When...

OK... now I'm hungry... and missing St. Louis... drat...

Random Posting Saturday

Well, nothing has really grabbed my attention- nothing worth ranting about. (OK... I take that back... I've got a couple of things in "draft" mode, but... ) So... here's a couple of those pesky little quizes for your amusement...

First, I got this one from Christina...

Your Birthdate: November 3

Being born on the 3rd day of the month is likely to add a good bit of vitality to your life.
The energy of 3 allows you bounce back rapidly from setbacks, physical or mental.
There is a restlessness in your nature, but you seem to be able to portray an easygoing, "couldn't care less" attitude.
You have a natural ability to express yourself in public, and you always make a very good impression.
Good with words, you excel in writing, speaking, and possibly singing.
You are energetic and always a good conversationalist.
You have a keen imagination, but you tend to scatter your energies and become involved with too may superficial matters.
You are affectionate and loving, but sometimes too sensitive.
You are subject to rapid ups and downs.

What Does Your Birth Date Mean?

Hmmm... maybe? Kinda? Sorta?

So... I followed the links on the side and found this one...

You Are 55% Normal(Somewhat Normal)

While some of your behavior is quite normal...
Other things you do are downright strange
You've got a little of your freak going on
But you mostly keep your weirdness to yourself

How Normal Are You?

Sure... riiiight... I'm kinda sorta normal... well... maybe?

You Are 28 Years Old


Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.

13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.

20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.

30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!

40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.

What Age Do You Act?

Umm... OK... if you say so... hey! Hand back my birth certificate! You don't need to see that!

Your Element Is Air

You dislike conflict, and you've been able to rise above the angst of the world.
And when things don't go your way, you know they'll blow over quickly.

Easygoing, you tend to find joy from the simple things in life.
You roll with the punches, and as a result, your life is light and cheerful.

You find it easy to adapt to most situations, and you're an open person.
With you, what you see is what you get... and people love that!

What's Your Element?

Uh... would that make me an airhead? How do I feel about that?

This one is just goofy:

B is for Bright
E is for Energetic
T is for Talented
H is for Hot

What Does Your Name Mean?

To quote... well, me... Yeah, Right... Whatever.

OK... what's up with that last table? Any one? HELP!!!!!!!!

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Cuffing the Kid, Part 3

So, now we get Jai-isha Scott's side of the story.
Jai-isha told "A Current Affair" she was alone with Miss D. because she was being punished for not playing "the jellybean game" with her classmates. "I didn't like Miss D., and I wanted to get out of that school," Jai-isha says.
Let's see... she doesn't have a mental problem. She's just a spoiled brat. She knew exactly what she was doing. She was banking on them calling her mom to come get her (whether or not she had thought about them calling the police was unclear).

What she needs is a paddle to her backside and all of her privileges taken away for a while. What she'll get, though, is warm fuzzies and pats on the back. Oh, yeah... that'll help.

Oh, The Outrage!!!

As I type this, President Bush is giving a prime time press conference- only his 4th since he took office in 2001.

And some people are not very happy about it.
this day just cant get any better! *sarcasm* 1st constantine is off of American Idol... now ..the one thing that would really cheer me up about no more constantine..the oc..isnt on!!! THIS IS BULL SH*T!
You know, I used to get very upset when Presidential addresses and press conferences were on in the evening. Then again, I think I was about 9 years old at the time.

Grow up, people! Your precious OC will be on next week, with 2, count them TWO, new episodes. I'm pretty sure that you'll survive until then.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Stupid Criminals

So... there's this guy... he hops into a truck (left running outside of a 7-11) and takes off with it... and a puppy. The owner of the truck calls his cell phone (which was also in the truck) and the thief answers the phone, yelling that he'll kill the puppy if he's not given $500.

The owner called the police, they set up a sting, and the wanna-be robber hands over the keys for $43 (rocket scientist, I'm tellin' ya!) Cops chase him down and arrest him. His bail was set at... $500.

Dakota (the puppy) was found, safe and sound. He did need a potty break and a nice drink of water, though.

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Both guys were pretty stupid. Cute puppy, though.

Cancer, Prayers, and the DU

(language alert)(h/t to Darth Monkeybone) Most of you have probably heard by now that conservative radio host Laura Ingraham was diagnosed with breast cancer last week, and she had surgery yesterday. She has asked for prayers, and I'm pretty sure most stable people will at least pause to toss up a quick one to the Great Physician.

I say stable because our lovely, slightly off "friends" over at DU (you know, the "compassionate" ones from the "real party of faith") don't feel like praying for her. (It's pretty bad- take your blood pressure meds, have a nice glass of Lambrusco, and try to stay calm as your head over there.) She's not worthy of prayer, evidently. Here's just a glimpse of what they had to say:
To be fair, several commenters chastised some of the people who made those comments, saying they had "no class" and that "she's still a human being." And Elizabeth Edwards, who was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, commented and was quite appalled by what she read. But, that's still what a lot of the Far Left think of those of us on the other side of the political spectrum. (And, no, I didn't c/p all of them- it was a long thread.)

Someone commented that the folks at Lucianne "were gleeful" when Peter Jennings announced that he has lung cancer. While I don't doubt that there were a few (but not many) conservatives who voiced the horrid words "he deserves it," most of us are just not like that. When President Clinton had heart surgery, I don't remember one overtly cruel statement about him or his prognosis (Big Mac jokes, yeah... wishing him ill? no). And when Mel Carnahan and Paul Wellstone died? We weren't mocking them, but the sham their funerals were turned into.

Maybe it's just me. I hope it's not, but... it's not in my nature to hate. It's not in my nature to wish evil on anyone, whether or not I agree with them. (There are probably exceptions to that, but none come to mind.) The idea that these people not only chose not to pray (or send positive vibes, or think non-violent thoughts or whatever) for Ms. Ingraham, but to attack her like that scares me. Is there that much hate in the world? In this country?

Cancer is a monster. Sometimes, the patient had something to do with the cancer showing up (smoking and sunbathing come to mind). But, most times, it is an equal opportunity monster. It doesn't care who you are, how much money you make, where you live. It doesn't look at your age, your education, or what kind of car you drive. It just eats away at you.

So many forms of cancer are beatable these days, but not all of them. I wish this evil on no one. If you or a loved one are afflicted with cancer, my prayers are with you. Fight it, beat it, and live the rest of your life with joy and peace.

My prayers are also with those on the opposite side of the political aisle from me. As someone pointed out in the DU thread, Jesus told us to "love our enemies and pray for our persecutors."

They'll Let Anyone Blog These Days, Won't They?

A friend of mine e-mailed me this link with the comment "finally someone interesting gets one." (Yeah, he's in trouble... and he knows it, I'm sure.)

Yes, that link is proof positive that some people have entirely too much time on their hands. Including me, since I'm going to put it on my daily "To Read" list. I mean... I have to with lines like this:
(Yeah, Emma, I'm a sci-fi geek. So?)

That's just the beginning. Welcome to the Blogosphere, your Dark Lordship!

Today the Airbus A380 had its maiden voyage. In case you don't know about the A380, it's the biggest passenger airliner out there (to date). Here's a pic of the graceful jet:

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Amazing? Oh, yeah. A technological marvel. I'm impressed, that's for sure. And, yeah... I'd fly on it... even if it is... fwench...

But the boys and I noticed something when we were watching coverage of the flight this morning. If you slap some black and white paint on that bad boy, it would look like a flying orca. No, really. Google it and check out some the pics. It looks like a killer whale with wings.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Hippos and Birdies to Her!

Today is R's b-day. No, I'm telling you how old she is.

Happy day, R!!!!!

Cuffing the Kid, part 2

Yesterday, I touched on the subject of the innocent little cherub who was brutally manhandled by the vicious police thugs in Florida. (/sarcasm) (Wow. That actually hurt.) This morning, the superintendent of the school district was on Fox & Friends. All I can say is "lovely. Just lovely."

Evidently, Mommy had told the school not to touch her precious child. And the police had been called to the school because of her before. The vice-principal had no choice but call the police. And the rest is history.

Yeah... this child, who is probably really sweet, is being taught that she is above the law, that rules don't matter, and that authority is irrelevant. Lovely. Just lovely.

Decisions... Decisions...

A woman convicted of theft in Wisconsin has been given a choice. She can either go to jail for 90 days or give up her Packers tickets.
While Rosenthal told police financial hardship was an issue, she and her husband managed to maintain the cost of four tickets to the Packers’ three-game Gold season-ticket package. Rosenthal argued that the tickets were her husband’s rather than hers. Judge Scott Woldt nonetheless offered her the choice to either serve the jail time or donate the 12 tickets for the upcoming season to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Well, if she's a real Cheesehead, she'll take the jail time.

Gift Ideas- another PSA

(E-mailed to me by a friend) For those of you looking for Mother's Day gift ideas, I offer you this:

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What is it? you ask? THAT, my friends, is The Sushi Machine, the MSR-3000. Capable of whipping out 50 rice balls (with or without Wasabi) per minute. Is that a thing of beauty or what?

Well.... go ahead. You know you want to order one.

Monday, April 25, 2005

A PSA for the guys...

... when playing spades with your wife and another couple, referring to your wife as a "bag", even if unintentional, is just bad form. And will probably get you in trouble.

Just sayin'...

This is Just WRONG...

I got these from Who Tends The Fires... the first one almost makes sense... but... the second one? That's just wrong...

You are .mpg You live life like it was a movie.  Constantly in motion, you bring pleasure to many, but are often hidden away.
Which File Extension are You?

You are Windows XP.  Under your bright and cheerful exterior is a strong and stable personality.  You have a tendency to do more than what is asked or even desired.
Which OS are You?

Cuffing the Kid

I'm sure everyone's heard about the five year old girl who was handcuffed by St. Petersburg police after throwing a temper tantrum at school.

People are up in arms because of "police brutality". Uh... no. This was a case where everything got out of hand. Let's check the facts.
I don't know if this little girl has behavioral problems or if she was just having a fit. If she has behavioral/mental problems, then she needs to be in a more structured environment (sorry, gang... not all kids can be mainstreamed). If she was just throwing a tantrum, then she needs some major disciplining. She was climbing on the furniture, ripping things off of the walls. She was out of control.

If it was a tantrum, that tells me something important about her family. She has learned (from where? I wonder... ) that tantrums work. If she pitches a fit, she gets what she wants. She doesn't have to do anything she doesn't want to do... a tantrum will get her out of it. We all know kids like that... you almost feel sorry for them... they'll grow up and have no idea what compromise or patience or delayed gratification means. Truly sad.

I can't help but wonder if the school was just afraid to discipline her. If their child so much as trips on the way to the principal's office, some parents will sue the district. Many school districts (one near here, as a matter of fact) do not discipline students at all- if there is any problem, they call the police.

Here is what I hope happens. I hope that little girl learned that her actions have consequences. I hope she realizes that some adults follow through when they make warnings (one of the police officers warned her that she would cuff her if she was called back). And I really hope that the mother takes responsibility for her child's discipline and doesn't sue the police for doing it for her.

Not a Pyramid, eh?

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the USDA's updated "food pyramid"... and the fact that it wouldn't be a pyramid. Well... um... this looks like a pyramid to me:

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That is a pyramid, right?

Well, I went to, and... ok, I'll admit it. It's not nearly as lame as it could have been. They did some common sense things (like explain how much a serving is). They also altered the pyramid based on your age and current weight (a skinny 10 year old has different nutrition requirements than an overweight 50 year old). And the site is somewhat interactive- you put in your stats (age, sex, and level of physical activity) and they give you a customized pyramid with the number of servings of each category that you should be eating.

My only concern? That it might be all (or mostly) online. There are a lot of people who either don't have access to the internet or who won't look online for this information. They need this information... right?

Leaving a Legacy

Saturday morning, I kind of felt sorry for Father York. He had never met my grandmother- she was unable to go to mass on her own by the time he moved to St. John's, and my aunt would take her to mass at my aunt's church instead. So, Father York had to give a eulogy about a person he didn't know. I'm sure they have classes at seminary on stuff like this- probably doesn't make it any easier.

But he did a good job. He started by talking about Pope John Paul II and all of the recent talk about his legacy. Then he talked about the writers of the three Scripture passages he read from and their legacies. And then he talked about Grandma.

No, she wasn't a pontiff who helped change the world scene. She wasn't a writer of scripture. But she did have two things in common with those four men- she was a person of faith, and she left a legacy.

Her legacy was sitting in that church Saturday morning. Her legacy is her family, and all the other people she touched and blessed with her life. Her legacy is reflected in the eyes of all those who love her.

If you read Grandma's obituary, you get a pale glimpse of who she was (no offense to my aunt- she did a pretty good job writing it- obits just aren't the place for the real stories of someone's life). There were eight children in her family. She worked at several restaurants during her life. She volunteered at the local grade school. She was active in the women's organization at her church for a while. She had three daughters, eight grandchildren and four great grandchildren. She was loved.

Does that tell you anything about her legacy? Not really. It doesn't tell you that she was a good cook (my potato soup and chicken soup recipes are based on her recipes, even if I have tweaked them a bit). It doesn't tell you that she and my grandpa had a huge garden, and she loved to can the extras. It doesn't tell you that she had a great sense of humor. It doesn't tell you that she did a great job raising her kids. And it doesn't tell you that when one of her daughters needed a kidney transplant, she gave her one of her kidneys (and it's still going strong almost 30 years later).

When all is said and done, all that will be left of any of us (on this Earth, that is) is a couple of paragraphs on the obit page... and our legacy. Grandma did good. I can only hope the same can be said for all of us.

I have some new plans for this summer... I'm going to try to figure out how to make my own dill pickles. And ketchup. Hmm... wonder if I should try growing the tomatoes and cucumbers myself, too...

My Inner What?

found over at the other Beth's place:

Your Inner European is Irish!

Sprited and boisterous!

You drink everyone under the table.

Who's Your Inner European?

Sunday, April 24, 2005

I'm back!

I arrived back in Austin this afternoon.

Not much to say right now. I'll start posting again tomorrow (I know you've been waiting patiently... or something like that...)

Just one thing to say now... It is the end of April, right? There really shouldn't be freeze warnings in St. Louis toward the end of April. It's just not right.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

I'm Here (an update)

In less than 15 hours from when my dad called me Monday morning, my plane was landing in St. Louis. It's amazing how quickly you can get stuff done if you have to.

Before I say anything else, I need to sing the praises of American Airlines. First of all, they are one of the few airlines that still offer bereavement rates. Second, both women I talked to on the phone were incredibly nice and helpful. Third, the woman at the gate in Austin was awesome. She tried to get me on the non-stop, and, when that didn't work, she got me onto a flight that landed an hour earlier than my original reservation. I'll recommend them whenever possible.

So... I'm here. My family is doing pretty well, all things considered. The viewing is Friday evening, and the funeral is on Saturday morning. The church is having a luncheon for us after the funeral. I'll be flying back to Austin Sunday morning.

Since there's not much else to do besides keeping my family company, Dad and I have been working in the backyard. All of the flowerbeds have been weeded, and one bed has been completely emptied. Dad will compost it, and it will be ready for me to replant when we come back at the end of May.

Well, that's all for now. We're off to run some errands.

Thanks for your comments, thoughts, and prayers. They mean a lot to me. (Oh, those prayers? Please keep 'em coming. This weekend is going to be rough... for a lot of reasons.)

Monday, April 18, 2005

My grandmother passed during the night, so I will be heading up to IL for the funeral. Arrangements are still pending.

She had a long, hard battle with Alzheimers, so I could say all the nice things about her being at peace and no longer suffering and all that. It's all true, but... doesn't seem to help much right now.

I'm making travel plans right now. Not sure when I'll be back. I'll keep everyone posted.

Keep my mom and her sisters (and the rest of the family) in your prayers.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Blog Sabbath

Turn off the computer. Turn off the tv. Listen to some cool tunes on the stereo, hang out with family and friends. Eat some sushi. (Sorry... that's just me... ) Enjoy a day of rest. The world will be there tomorrow.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Silly Boys!

The boys just came home from their school's picnic- with tummy aches. Why? you ask. Good question. One which I asked.

T2: "Because I ate 5 pickles. (T1) ate 3."
Me: "Did you eat anything else?"
T2: "Well, yeah. Hot dogs. Sour sticks. Soda."

Does this surprise me? Not really. Are they going to learn from this? Probably not. But they're boys- they're supposed to do stuff like this.

The Beauty of Creation

When I look at pictures like this, I can help but marvel at the wonder of God's creation. I don't mean to sound rude or closed-minded, but how can people look at that and not believe that (insert diety of your choice here) exists?

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NGC 6751

More Brilliance from the US Government

What? Me, sarcastic? Nah... I would never make fun of publications by the US government... ok... maybe I would...

Anyway... the Chicago Tribune is reporting that the USDA's food pyramid is going to undergo another overhaul. So much so, in fact, that it may not even be a pyramid from here on out.
When USDA officials unveil their new food guidance program in the next few days, it will include an updated symbol to replace the pyramid although USDA officials are mum on its design. But whether it's a pyramid, rectangle or rhombus, the new symbol won't include a comprehensive diet plan as does the current pyramid.

Rather, the graphic will be part of a larger food guidance system and will include just a few motivational slogans--urging consumers, for instance, to count calories and exercise regularly. The details of the nutritional advice will be explained in printed material and on a revamped, interactive Web site.
A "food guidance system"? Like a GPS for snacks? That might be cool. "Motivational slogans"? Here's one- "get off your rump and move!"

I hate to break it to the USDA, but... their target demographic (the less educated, lower income Americans who are packing on a few extra pounds) probably won't respond very well to "slogans." We all know how well "just say 'no'!" worked out. Educating kids, on the other hand, seems to work better (case in point- DARE.) Keep working on them, and you'll have yourself a nice, healthy, brainwashed citizenry in a few years.
"The reason we talk about it as a food guidance system is, no one graphic can carry 23 recommendations," said Eric Hentges, director of the department's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, who is overseeing the project. "You can't hang all the necessary information on one graphic. It just won't work."
Ah, yes... those 23 recommendations. That's my real reason for this sarcastic rant against the USDA. I wandered through the USDA's web site looking for the January, 2005 report that is the basis for these new guidelines. Insightful reading, let me tell you. Some of the highlights?
Wow. My life is forever changed. I had no idea... truly.

Seriously, didn't we know this already? In spite of what some people would have you believe (what? eating McDonald's every day makes you fat? who knew?) most Americans know that a salad is better for you than the super-sized order of fries, and baked is better (for you) than fried, and apples are healthier than Ding Dongs. Hasn't helped much, has it? Here's a great quote from that Trib story:
The pyramid is being revamped because it is considered confusing and contains outdated--some say unhealthy--advice. More important, the pyramid's advice has been largely ignored by the public.
Well, yeah, it's being ignored!!! That's because Twinkies and potato chips (not together, but, you know what I mean) taste better than spinach and brocolli. Welcome to the real world.

But, let's look at that first sentence. Some of the pyramid's advice is unhealthy? Hmmm... let's have a look at that pyramid again...
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And those new guidelines? They look almost the same. Well, except for the whole "you might want to go for a walk once in a while" part. There's no place for that on the pyramid. So, which part is unhealthy?

I guess I shouldn't get on the USDA's case too much. I mean, they're just trying to educate the sheeple of this great nation on how to have a more healthy lifestyle. The fact that we, as a nation, choose to ignore them is not their fault.

What I am getting on their case for is this: they spent how much of our tax money rewording the same stuff we've known for YEARS??? They haven't learned anything new. Not a thing.

Sorry, guys, but the American public is well aware of our collective expanding waistline. That whole diet thing? Yeah... we got that memo. We know all about exercise- we just don't do it.

Let's be honest. Until you can make a garden salad that tastes as wonderful as a bacon double cheeseburger, we're gonna eat the burger. With fries.

Friday, April 15, 2005


Well, today is Tax Day. But, alas, it is not Tax Freedom Day. For those of us who live in "no state income tax" states, that day is Sunday. That is the day, on average, when you finish paying your "fair share" to Aunt IRiS. Monday morning, you start earning money just for you! Aren't you excited?!?!?

A Whale of a Story...

... a "wholphin" of a story, that is...
The only whale-dolphin mix in captivity has given birth to a playful female calf, officials at Sea Life Park Hawaii said Thursday.

The calf was born on Dec. 23 to Kekaimalu, a mix of a false killer whale and an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin. Park officials said they waited to announce the birth until now because of recent changes in ownership and operations at the park.

The young as-yet unnamed wholphin is one-fourth false killer whale and three-fourths Atlantic bottlenose dolphin. Her slick skin is an even blend of a dolphin's light gray and the black coloring of a false killer whale.

The calf still depends fully on her mother's milk, but sometimes snatches frozen capelin from the hands of trainers, then toys with the sardine-like fish.
I haven't been able to find any photos of the baby yet (there was a video clip on FoxNews, but nothing on the internet) , but here's a pic of Mama:

She is jumbo-sized compared to purebred dolphins, and is already the size of a one-year-old bottlenose.

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Hmm... she looks like... well, like a dolphin. That might be because her father, a false killer whale, isn't really a whale- it's a type of dolphin. So... since Kekaimalu is 100% dolphin (although 2 different species, and she really shouldn't have been able to reproduce- think "mule") and the calf's father is thought to be an Atlantic Bottlenose... then the new calf should look, at the most, like a slightly off-color snub-nose dolphin. Right?

Awwww... I just saw the video of the calf. She's a cutey!!! Unlike many baby animals, baby sea mammals come into the world looking like mini-versions of their parents. None of this eyes-still-shut-hairless-ugly-little-thing for these guys! Nope- marine mammals arrive ready for their close-ups.

Hmmm... wonder what the odds are of me getting to see this "little" one up close and personal? It is a little far for a road trip. Oh, well...

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Why, yes, I do appreciate the Arts, why?

found via the other Beth:
Trekkie Appreciator
Survey Says...

You like Star Trek and have obviously watched more than a couple of
episodes or movies, but you don't live or breathe the world (read: you
probably don't go to your local McDonalds in your Klingon gear - not
that there's anything wrong with that...). Excellent! You've managed to
tread the fine line between sci-fi buff and Star Trek nerd (otherwise
known as the difference between enjoying Star Trek for its
entertainment value and running around with a batleth quoting Klingon
battle poetry).
PS Don't forget to rate this test!

My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 19% on Trekkies
Link: The Trekkie Test written by MadameBoffin on Ok Cupid

Ah, yes... time to clear the schedules...

The NFL has released the 2005 schedule. Preseason begins Aug 6th with the American Bowl in Tokyo (Atlanta v. Indianapolis). Regular season kicks off on Thursday, Sept 8th (Oakland v. New England).

One item I found interesting. The Super Bowl will be in Detroit. My first thought was "Sweet! Snow Bowl!" Then I actually went to the Ford Field web site. A dome? Ew. Just ew.

Friendly wagering between family members is always encouraged. Who do you think will make it to Detroit? And who will come out on top?

Over-reacting or Good Policy?

Today, new TSA restrictions go into effect, prohibiting one more item from being carried on to aircraft in the United States. That item? Lighters.

Their reasoning almost makes sense. Remember Richard Reid? He tried to light a shoe bomb with matches. Logic then dictates that if he'd have a lighter, then he would have been able to light the bomb. Well, yeah... but... maybe he couldn't light the bomb because he was an idiot and was messing with the matches for too long. And since you can still carry on safety matches, if a would-be shoe bomber practices his lighting technique a little bit more, then you've still got a problem.

I guess I'm not really upset over the lighter ban (I'm not a smoker- what do I care, right?) My concern is over the knee jerk reaction our government has toward airline safety. It's panicky, and it rarely makes sense. Airlines had to re-do their menues because they can no longer have metal utensils, but you can carry on metal knitting needles with no problem. You can't carry on a Leatherman tool (or any other kind of tool unless it's in an eyeglass repair kit) but you can take on ball point pens (ask any martial arts expert how deadly those can be in the right hands).
When we were at London's Gatwick airport, I had an interesting (very brief) exchange with one of the security personnel. We were in line to go through security, so I got out my laptop (set on standby, of course) and got ready to show it to the guy at the metal detector. When I got up there and started to open it, the guy just looked at me and said, "American, right?" I nodded. "Put the laptop away. We don't worry about things like that. We've been doing this a while longer than you have."

That made me think. Yes, we'd been living in a dream world up until 9/11. No one could touch us, right? So... when the unthinkable happened, did we look to those with experience? Did we call El Al and ask about their security? Did we talk to our allies, the British, and ask about their safety measures?

My plan? (You knew I had a plan, right?) Inact logical restrictions (99% of what the TSA is doing is good, I guess...) Draw on the knowledge of our friends. Don't worry about being politically correct- the little old lady in the wheel chair is probably not smuggling in explosives in her girdle. It's not racial profiling if the vast majority of the people who are out to attack us are part of one particular demographic (sorry, Sam!) And relax a little. I don't mean our standards... I mean that having high strung people in charge (both at security check points and within the heirarchy) doesn't help anyone.

Oh, yeah... one more thing. Order boxes of TSA stamped safety matches. Seriously. You're gonna have plane-loads full of antsy smokers otherwise. Put them in the smoking areas inside the terminal. It's the least you can do.

An Honor?

When the boys were little, they named their new puppy after a friend of the family- he was honored. And that is usually the case. Having something named after you is an honor, right? I just hope President Bush feels that way.
Image hosted by Namesakes of the U.S. President and two of his key people might be crawling around your back yard as you read this.

Three new beetles of the genus Agathidium have been named after members of the current administration: A. bushi, A. cheneyi and A. rumsfeldi.

Two former Cornell University entomologists, Quentin Wheeler and Kelly Miller, were in charge of naming 65 new species of slime-mold beetles, which they discovered while studying the insects’ evolution and classification.

Wheeler, who is now head of entomology at the Natural History Museum in London, said that the choice to name beetles after President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was out of admiration for their principles, not because they look like the beetles.

None of these beetles make their home inside the Beltway. Image hosted by
How... sweet. No, really. I'm sure they meant it as a compliment, but... slime beetles?

Aunt IRiS

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that tomorrow is Tax Day- April 15th. That's right, boys and girls, it's that one day of the year that we render unto Uncle Sam far more than what is due him, enabling him to blow all that cash on ridiculous programs with iffy results.

More importantly (for 2nd Amendment lovers), tomorrow is also BaG Day. Just in case anyone was curious... PSAs are our specialty... or something like that...

But April 15th tax deadline isn't the tax I'm annoyed with today. The Estate Tax is being debated... again. This is a tax that needs to go away and never come back. Die, as it were.

First, this is not a "death tax"- it's kind of hard to tax a dead person. "Estate tax" is probably the kindest term for it. I prefer "fleecing of the bereaved," but that's just me.

This is how it works. You work your rump off for years to leave something for your family, paying taxes on your income like a good citizen. You live a long, full life, and then you go on to your Final Reward. Your lawyer takes care of your estate, handing out the savings you worked so hard (and paid taxes on- did I mention that?) to leave for your family.

In comes Mr. Taxman. You see, the IRS thinks that your savings (which you earned and paid taxes on) is income for the family you left behind. Not a gift, not an inheritance- it's income. And, guess what? Uncle Sam (or more specifically, your evil Aunt IRiS) wants a piece of the action. Doesn't matter that taxes have already been paid on it- the grieving widow didn't pay it.

A few years ago, legislation was passed that slowly got rid of the Estate Tax. One problem. It disappears, only to re-appear in 2010 (which was a political calculation- the Democrats in Congress wouldn't approve an out and out removal of the tax from the rolls). So, now, it's time to debate it again, with Republicans trying to get rid of the tax once and for all.

Democrats are quick to point out that almost no one in the country has to worry about this tax.
Many Democrats challenged the bill's $290 billion, 10-year cost as too dear for a country burdened by deficits and fighting terrorism at home and abroad. They said the bill benefits a few wealthy families to the detriment of almost everyone else.

"This is the reverse Robin Hood," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. "We are taking money from the middle class and giving it to the super rich, and not only the super rich but the super, super, super rich."

Most estates already are exempt from federal taxes. The Internal Revenue Service said just over 2 percent of people who died in 2001 left estates subject to taxation.
Reverse Robin Hood? Give me a break. This isn't about how few people are subject to it, and it isn't about rich versus poor, Ms. Pelosi. This is about what is fair and right. A person earned that money, and they should have a right to decide what happens to that money.

Proponents of a "fair economy" would say that not having an estate tax is unfair- they're wrong. "Fair economists" are socialists at best, but probably communists. Here's a sample of their ideology:
First, there was the belief that the hereditary transfer of concentrated wealth is incompatible with American values and democratic aspirations... A second belief was that society played a significant role in the creation of individual wealth and therefore had some claim upon the wealth of the very rich.
Incompatible with American values? Which values are they refering to? Personal responsibility? The American Dream? Society played a role in the creation of individual wealth? In the past, I would have said that the only role society plays in the creation of individual wealth is that it got out of the way. Now, I'd have to say that "society" (IOW, government) does nothing but hinder the creation of personal wealth.

Most Democrats (and other liberals) might not admit it, but they would love nothing more than for American citizens to hand over 100% of their income, and then the people who want nothing better than what (they think) is best for us, will give us only what we need- nothing more, nothing less. The rest could then be spent on the important stuff... you know, stuff like studying the mating habits of various endangered animals. There's only one little bitty problem with that- that's not a republic- that's communism. We defeated that, for the most part- it fails every time it's tried.

Since the Dems can't have their dream tax, they're content with taking as much as they can from the people who fuel the economy- the rich- as often as possible. They impose a higher income tax rate (because, of course, the rich can afford it, right?), they tax the gifts the rich give (because they can afford it, right?), and they tax what they leave behind for their family (because they can afford it, right?)

You know what I would love nothing more? Either a national sales tax (that way everyone would pay taxes, not just those over a certain income- you use services, you should pay for them- that's only fair) or a flat tax. What rate? Well, to quote a wise American philosopher, "if 10% is good enough for Jesus, then it's good enough for Uncle Sam." Add in another 5% to cover city and state, and we're good to go.

What's that? Government can't function with that level of revenue? Hmmm... Joe Citizen has to make a budget and stick to it- he can't just go to the person "giving" him his money (his boss) and say, "gimme more." Nope. He has to adjust his level of spending so that income =/> spending. Uncle Sam might want to think about trying that.

Well, that... and leaving the bereaved alone. They have enough on their minds without worrying about their tax bill.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

More on Cat Hunting...

In an earlier post, I mentioned a Wisconsin proposal that would legalize the hunting of feral cats. (For the record, I understand the need of it. I'm just not sure how I'd feel about it in suburbia. Know what I mean?) Well, I've been listening to talk radio today. Rush is dead set against it, and local talk show host Jeff Ward just wants to make sure that the hunters don't miss and hit his family.

What I thought was funny (in a truly morbid way, I'll admit) was some of the suggestions made by some of Jeff Ward's listeners. Some of them include:
Like I said, morbid. But funny. Any other suggestions?

Got Fire Insurance, Andy?

Andy Rooney took the stand in a fraud trial on Monday, and he started off his testimony by... well, by being Andy.
Rooney, 86, entered the courtroom muttering, and he balked when asked to swear to tell "nothing but the truth, so help you God."

"I don't know about God," he said, taking the witness chair.
Sir, you're 86 years old. Your lack of clarity on the issue will be resolved in short order, one way or the other. Wouldn't it be in your best interest to hedge your bets? Take out a bit of "fire insurance" perhaps? Or... at least not get yourself into... uh... hot water. You're just asking for it, ya know?

Well, that's one word for it

Mike Tyson promises that his next bout will be a train wreck.
Silent and expressionless for the first 15 minutes of Tuesday's news conference to announce his return to the ring, a scheduled June 11 bout at the MCI Center against journeyman Kevin McBride of Ireland, Tyson lit up and laughed when his foe's manager promised an upset.
I'm not a boxing fan. At all. But, when I saw clips of this press conference this morning, I had to do a double take. I mean... Tyson's not a small guy. But... look at this photo:

Image hosted by

Oh, my. Kev is... a big boy. A very big boy. If I had to guess, I'd say The Clones Colossus is going to hand Iron Mike his bottom on a silver platter.

OK, guys. Explain it to me. Why... WHY... would a guy intentionally fight a man with a 7 inches of height and 11 inches of reach advantage? That borders on the suicidal.

This is Bad... why?

English is now the official language of West Virginia. What makes this story funny is that most of the legislators didn't know they were voting on it.
Two days after the end of the legislative session, state lawmakers are discovering something few were aware of: They voted to make English the official language of West Virginia.
Maybe lawmakers should read the bill before they vote. Just a thought...
Andrew Schneider, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia, said English-only laws are based on the false premise that immigrants will not learn English without government coercion.
Don't even start with me on that one. I live in Texas. We know how it works. We know that many immigrants don't learn English with coercion. That why everything, even the labels on many items at the grocery store, are in English and Spanish.

No on in West Virginia will probably fight this new legislation. I would love to see them try it here.


Read this and then we'll talk:
A man has been arrested in Brazil for robbing two bibles from a priest at knifepoint.

The 18-year-old threatened Francisco Eloi de Souza with a butter knife, reports Terra Noticias Populares.

He stole the two bibles, which the priest had just bought, before fleeing on foot through the streets of Boa Viagem.

But the priest alerted a nearby policeman who quickly caught up with the robber and arrested him.

A police spokesman said: "This is the weirdest robbery I have ever heard of."
I'm not really sure which part confuses me more. The guy stole Bibles. He committed armed robbery- with a butter knife. Weirdest robbery? Ya think?

Kick Butts Day

Today is Kick Butts Day in schools across the country, and young skulls full of mush will be bombarded with anti-tobacco information. (hey... smoking is bad for you... don't get me wrong. And it looks like DARE has been doing a wonderful job of educating kids on the evils of drug use.) Although some of the activities worry me (do they really need to put the Marlboro Man on trial?) I think this is a pretty good idea.

What I don't get (yeah, yeah... smokers will get on my case- get over it!) is how you could have made it through school in the 70s and 80s (and I'm sure the 90s and beyond) without having enough anti-smoking propogando shoved down your throat that you'd never want to even look at a pack of cigarettes, moreless smoke them. I still remember that nasty looking picture of a diseased lung we saw in health class. That was nasty. Why would you intentionally do that to your lungs?

There is one thing I don't get though. Why in April? Why not have it in November, just before the Great American Smokeout? Think about it. You have Kick Butts Day on the 3rd Monday in November, and then the kids could be real encouragement for people who are participating in the Smokeout! Well... either that, or they'll be total nags. Hey, whatever works, right?


Labs are sent samples of various viruses in order to test their proficiency. No problem there, right? Well, no... unless they're sent samples of a pandemic-worthy flu virus.
Thousands of scientists were scrambling Tuesday at the urging of global health authorities to destroy vials of a pandemic flu strain sent to labs in 18 countries as part of routine testing.

The rush, urged by the World Health Organization, was sparked by a slim, but real, risk that the samples, could spark a global flu epidemic. The vials of virus sent by a U.S. company went to nearly 5,000 labs, mostly in the United States, officials said.
Viruses are rated on the level of safety precautions necessary to deal with them. For example, standard issue flu is a 1 or a 2... Ebola is a 4. This particular flu strain (which killed millioins of people in 1957) is rated 2 in the US, but will probably be raised to a 3 because so few people have resistance to it. How did this company get its mitts on a virus that has killed millions? Some viruses need to be locked away under armed guard somewhere, not stuck in a deep freeze where it can be mistaken for generic Influenza B. That sounds almost as bad as a vial of small pox being mistaken for a vial of chicken pox. Or confusing Ebola Reston with Ebola Zaire or Marburg.

It's the little things that matter, especially when you're dealing with little deadly things.

The Reality of Evil

Last night, two friends gave me links to posts they had just finished. (Language alerts in effect... but... well... sometimes nice words just don't get the message across.) I read their posts, and... I wanted to write... to respond... but I couldn't. I felt truly sick inside.

Kids videotaping a developmentally delayed teen as she is being forced to perform sex acts... while other kids watch (and then the school trying to cover it up)... a woman who would force one daughter into prostitution and sell another daughter for a car... then you add the other links I saw last night... a 13 year old girl missing in Florida... 3 people who won't be prosecuted for not helping police look for another little girl when there might have been a chance to save her... people starved to death because they are brain damaged or just old...

I tend to be an optomist. My glass is always half full. But... these things... I believe in a loving a just God, and I believe that most people, though fallen and imperfect, will try to do the right thing (yeah... I know... the sky is blue in my little dream world, and I like it here). But... when things like this happen, I have to wonder how these people... these monsters... can be the same species as people of peace and love and faith like John Paul II and Mother Theresa and Billy Graham and Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr.

I know that evil exists. I'm not that naive. What I don't understand is why people have to keep proving it.

Movie Review Time

Went to see Sahara today with R's family, then out to eat.

As you read this, please keep in mind that I haven't read the book.) I was a little worried about the movie- I had heard some pretty bad reviews of it. Eh. They were wrong. I was told that they left out huge chunks of the book's plot, but it was still over two hours long. How long would it have been if they had put everything in it? There was some debate over whether or not Bongo Boy would be good as Dirk Pitt, but I thought he did a great job. I had heard that Penelope Cruz did horribly, but I thought she was convincing in her part. And Steve Zahn stole the movie as Al. He and McConaughey work really well together.

One of the "complaints" about the movie was that it was a modern Indiana Jones. Not exactly, but I can see their argument- IF you didn't know that it was based on a series of books and a character created back in the 70s. Oh, well... maybe those critics should hire a blogger or two to do their research for them. Just a thought...

Yeah, you have to check reality at the door. Sure, parts were a little corny. Who cares? It was a fun movie. Go see it. You'll like it.

Dinner was yummy. (No, I don't like their web page, but their food was great, as usual.) Dessert wasn't bad, either. (hmm... I probably need to do a few thousand extra sit-ups to get rid of that Java Jolt. Drat.)

Animal News (LONG post... funny ending...)

Well, Blogspot ate this post earlier today, so let's try it again...

There isn't much worth writing about in the "normal" news, so I thought I'd cover a few animal stories. Some of these are pretty interesting...
That last story brought to mind a memory from when the boys were little. (Sit back and relax. While this is a Image hosted by kind of story, no toddlers or animals were injured in the making of this memory.) Let me set the stage. The boys are just under 2 years old. We're visiting Mugga and Pompa in IL. It's summer... and summer in STL means 110 degrees in the shade at times.

During one of those blistering summer days, we decide to go to Grant's Farm. (If you're ever in STL and have some free time, check it out. Maybe you can find a zonkey or a zony.) So, we take the tram to the Garten, and then we start wandering around, looking at all the animals. (Yeah, I know. Camels and eagles and goats and pigs and deer are kind of lost on toddlers. I was having fun, though.) T2 was off getting "freshened up", and I had T1 in the double stroller. We walked over to one of the corrals where a mamma Clydesdale and her new baby were being displayed for the first time.

Have you ever seen a Clydesdale? I mean up close and personal, not in a Budweiser commercial. They're beautiful, amazing animals, standing 18 hands (6ft) high at the shoulder and weighing over 2000 pounds. Here's a photo, but it just doesn't do them justice:

Image hosted by

Even the babies are HUGE.

So... back to the story... I maneuver the stroller in so T1 can get a closer look. Mamma has positioned herself between Jr and the fence (and the people) like any good mom would do. This is awesome! I think to myself. T1 has been on a horse, but he's never been near one of these beauties. He's so close he can almost touch her. This is amazing! Right about this time, I see Mamma start sniffing, not really flaring her nostrils, but just sniffing the air... right around T1. (I did mention that it was - seriously- about 110 degrees, right? And that the humidity in STL when it's that hot is... oh... about 487% That is important to the story right now...) Hmmm... that's interesting... she must smell the soap... or maybe the shampoo... or ... OH NO! Sweat!!!

Before I could move, Mamma has clamped on to T1's little noggin and started sucking on it like it was a saltlick. He didn't scream or react like he was in pain, so I just froze in place. What am I going to do? Everyone around me started freaking out, and I'm screaming inside, look people... she's being gentle... she knows he's just a baby... and she won't hurt him... as long as you DON'T SPOOK HER!!!!

About that time, she releases T1's head, gives me a look that said, yeah... uh... well... sorry 'bout that. Cute kid. Then she gave Jr a little nudge and wandered off to another part of the corral. I checked T1 over... his head wasn't even red, and he was perfectly fine. His mom was a little freaked, and Pompa was less than thrilled when I told him what happened, but T1 wasn't even phased by it. Didn't sour him to horses, or make him fear animals in general.

Then there was the time T2, also a toddler at the time, stuck his finger up a horse's nose... up to his elbow. Hmmm... wonder if they'll both end up being veterinarians...

Monday, April 11, 2005

Although it might be a good idea...

... the speed of light might not actually be the law.

We all remember high school physics, right? One of the first constants we learned was the speed of light.
the speed of light = 299,792,458 m / s
Remember that? Probably not. You probably learned it this way:
the speed of light = 3 x 108m/s
No matter how you remember it, the one thing you probably remember is that it never changes. It's always the same. It's the law. Right?

Eh. Maybe not. By studying the light coming from distant quasars, some scientists believe that the way that certain wavelengths are absorbed. In simple terms? The speed of light might have changed over time.

Scientists believe that the fine structure constant has changed by 0.001%. Big whoop, right? Wrong.
If true, it means that something called the fine structure constant - a measure of the strength of electromagnetic force that holds atoms together - has changed by about 0.001% since the big bang. The speed of light depends on the fine structure constant. If one varies with time then the other probably does too, meaning Einstein got it wrong.
What does this mean for Joe Normal? Not one darn thing. What does this mean for the scientific community? It means that they have a lot of thinking to do, reworking theories that they thought they had finished with long ago. Oh, yeah... it also probably means guaranteed employment for the foreseeable future.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

It's Not Always a Good Thing...

... when you get to meet Mr. Firefighter. Know what I mean?

About 20 minutes after I got to church, we started smelling a most unpleasant aroma. Imagine burning rubber mixed with a small electrical fire, and you've just about got it. After a few minutes of not being able to locate the source of said scent, the decision was made to call the fire department. (Better safe than sorry- we've had our share of fire problems.)

So, a shiny red fire truck shows up at church, four firefighters climb out, and within about 3 minutes they've located the problem. A ballast in one of the flourescent lights in the hallway was going on the blink, sending the malodorous essense into the space above the ceiling tiles. Within 10 minutes of finding the problem, they had completely dismantled the light and checked to make sure that there was nothing else smouldering. Then... they were gone.

After all of that, we were still ready to roll 20 minutes before the first service started. Nice, relaxed morning. Plenty of coffee. Just a touch of excitement to keep us awake. It was a good day.

The Blog Sabbath

The Blog Sabbath. A day to step away and be "non-bloggy." Spend some time with family and friends. Play outside. Read a book. Get unplugged for a while.

Me? Going to church. Hanging out with the family. Nothing out of the ordinary. And that's alright with me.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Enough Already!

They're married. She's still dead. Cami isn't taking Di's place... as if that could happen. Not nearly as many people care as the media would have you believe. All we need now is for Chuckles to abdicate. Then all will be right with the world. Right?

Can we get back to real news now?

Losing Teeth

Random kid post time.

The boys are 11, but I think you knew that already. What's up with all of these teeth they're losing? I don't remember losing teeth like this when I was in 5th or 6th grade. Well, I do remember going to the dentist and he yanked a bunch of baby teeth. Are those the ones that they're losing now on their own? I mean, all I know is that I've found more than a few teeth just lying around (they know that I have an "in" with the Tooth Fairy... the funds are just direct deposited into their accounts at this point- yes, they're very high tech kids. Why do you ask?) Got to admit- they're more courageous than me- they yank their own teeth.

Now, if I could teach them to rinse out the sink when they're finished playing dentist. Ew....

Friday, April 08, 2005

Amen and Amen

Pope John Paul II has been laid to rest. Millions attended his funeral mass, including 4 kings, 5 queens, and 70 presidents. Virtually all faiths came together to honor him. Prayers were spoken in Swahihi, Togolese, Portuguese, German and French (at least).

It is said that, last Saturday a mass was said in his residence, along with the Blessing of the Sick and Dying (Last Rites or Extreme Unction). When it was finished, he looked out the window, said, "Amen," and then passed away. Knowing what we know of his life and his faith, that just makes sense.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Oh, THAT's Mature (part 2)

Another conservative speaker got hit with a pie.
A conservative activist who criticizes what he calls the leftist domination of college campuses was struck with a pie Wednesday night at Butler University.

David Horowitz, president of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, had just started a lecture at Butler when he was hit.
Whatever happened to honest debate in the arena of ideals?

A Personal Rant (to no one who actually reads my site)

When someone goes out of their way to offer you kindness, to insure your safety and security and happiness, they're not asking for the world in return. Simple, sincere gratitude would have been enough. Too bad some people will never understand that.

Clarification: no one took advantage of me. I'm just venting out of frustration over what a friend is going through. Since I can't realistically go and knock some sense into the heartless dirty word censored person in question, I must hurl random seemingly senseless statements at you, my three faithful readers. Sorry 'bout that.

Don't Worry 'Bout a Thing

Ever hear a song and think, 'yeah, I wish I could have that attitude'? SheDaisy's "Don't Worry 'Bout a Thing" is that kind of song. But, it does make you think.

Life is funny, life's a mess
Sometimes a curse, sometimes a blessing
Don't worry 'bout a thing, don't worry 'bout it
Life gets sticky, life can bruise
Sometimes you win sometimes you're losing
No matter what it brings
Don't worry 'bout a thing

Yeah, it's sappy. Sure, it's cute. But, trust me. It's an addictive little tune. Go listen. You'll still be humming it hours from now...

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