Image hosted by To read the tribute to SFC Marcus Muralles, please click here Image hosted by

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Another Kyle update

Copied and pasted straight from Mama's site (Sorry, Mama- couldn't improve- didn't want to try):
I just got out of AIM with Spence, the brother of LCpl. Kyle Renehan, and I have some updated information.

Because of some difficulty with the wounds to his leg, they are giving him a transfusion and are holding him in Iraq until the wound closes enough to make air travel safer. He is still sedated heavily and basically unconscious.

He will remain in Iraq until tomorrow night. They will start the process of waking him tomorrow, and reassess any damage to his brain. LCpl Chris will remain with him until he is moved, which is very good for Kyle. I'm sure he is talking Kyle's ear off, and that's good for both of them at this point.

Spence also said that he appreciates all of the kindness shown during this situation. Good and wonderful people have been hitting the Paypal link and doing what they can to assist his family, and it was overwhelming.

If you can help with prayer, please do so for Kyle and for his parents who are taking this very hard and need your support. (e-mail link removed by request- ed.)
Please continue to pray for the Renehan family. More updates to follow.

The Groningen Protocol

Warning: I know I try not to cuss in my posts... I may make an exception here. Just warning you...

Drudge headlines in big red letters: Netherlands Hospital Euthanizes Babies. Your first reaction is horror, revulsion. With good reason.

I clicked on the link, hoping that this was an isolated case, a mistake, perhaps. But no. The Groningen Protocol, named after the hospital that developed the guidelines, would allow doctors to administer lethal doses of sedatives and muscle relaxant to newborns (or others with "no free will"- those in "irreversible comas, those who are severely mentally handicapped, etc.) who are terminally ill or in extreme, persistent pain. This is similar to the laws passed in the Netherlands three years ago, which allowed doctors to provide that "treatment" to adult patients who request it. They claim to have followed the protocol 4 times in 2003.

Later in the article, they quote a staff ethicist for the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, NC (remind me never to need medical care in Charlotte). You have to read it to believe it:
However, experts acknowledge that doctors euthanize routinely in the United States and elsewhere, but that the practice is hidden.

"Measures that might marginally extend a child's life by minutes or hours or days or weeks are stopped. This happens routinely, namely, every day," said Lance Stell, professor of medical ethics at Davidson College in Davidson, N.C., and staff ethicist at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C. "Everybody knows that it happens, but there's a lot of hypocrisy. Instead, people talk about things they're not going to do."

More than half of all deaths occur under medical supervision, so it's really about management and method of death, Stell said.
No, you asshat, it's not about management and method. It's about lessening the value of human life. It's about some third party determining if a child is worthy of life.

Euthanasia is when you actively cause someone's death. Pulling the plug in order to stop someone's pain (especially if they had made that request known earlier) is not the same as injecting someone with a "Pain No More" cocktail. I'm not opposed to pulling the plug on a respirator if the person has no brain function and cannot live without being forced to breathe. I am against pulling a feeding tube (unless the person had a request that they not use one to begin with). Hell, I'm against not putting IN a feeding tube without expressed wishes to the contrary.

But we're not talking about "pulling the plug." We're talking about killing babies. Not withholding treatment. We're talking about giving them fatal injections.

I've never been in this position, I'll admit that up front. I've never had a child so incredibly ill that I would need to make that kind of call. But I can't imagine any of the parents I know who would give up on their child to the extent that they would ask for the injection. They may withhold treatment, pray for a miracle, but I don't think I know of anyone who would ask that a doctor kill their child.

The potential fallout from this is amazing. Who is terminal? Who decides when enough is enough for a person who has "no free will"? Who decides WHO has no free will? When is it too much pain? When do you give up hope?

In their quest to be compassionate and tolerant and understanding, the government and the medical community in the Netherlands have forgotten two important things. The first- the value of a single human life. The second- the Hippocratic Oath, which they took when they became physicians. The important part?
I will neither prescribe nor administer a lethal dose of medicine to any patient even if asked nor counsel any such thing nor perform, the utmost respect for every human life from fertilization to natural death and reject abortion that deliberately takes a unique human life.

Kyle Renehan Update #2

Spence has asked me to take down the link to his site. Please continue to keep Kyle and the entire family in your prayers.

Random Christmas Memory #5

Sleigh bells. Yes, I heard sleigh bells. Every Christmas Eve, even once I became a Santa's helper. I asked my dad- to this day he swears he has no idea what I'm talking about. My sister never heard them.

The first time I did not hear sleigh bells was the Christmas after Hubby and I got married. Yeah, that's right- I heard them up until I was 22 years old. Hubby and I spent our first Christmas with his family in Texas. When I woke up Christmas morning, I have to admit I was a little sad that I hadn't been awakened in the night by sleigh bells.

I know what you're thinking. My dad was doing it the whole time, and he just never mentioned it. Well... if that was the case, then why didn't I hear them the next Christmas, when we were at my parents' house again?

I've never heard them again. I think it was just part of the mystique of Christmas growing up (I dreamed of them once, and it just carried on from year to year). Then, I just grew up. Drat.

Get Your Priorities Straight!

Col. David Hackworth has an interesting commentary at WND, titled "Calling Gen. Abizaid." It revolves around high-ranking officers using resources in Iraq for less-than-necessary purposes.

I must be incredibly naïve or overly honorable or something. The thought of using necessary assets for a joy ride around Iraq just seems... insane. It makes no sense to me.

If this is true (and I have no reason to believe it's not) then Gen. Abizaid needs to have another little chat with his command. It's probably too much to ask for the Pentagon to look into it... after all, some of them are the ones doing it.

OK... gotta be Grinch here...

Newsmax has come up with the Top 5 Awful Toys. Yikes! OK... those will NOT be under our tree. I don't think the boys have even noticed these particular toys, and for that, I'm very very grateful. The Stink Blaster? Oh, yeah... as if your average 11 year old boy needs help with THAT. Snot shot? Ew. Just... ew. The Van Helsing Gross Dissection Lab? That's just a stepping stone to other grossness. The last two- the Mall Madness Game and the Bratz Tokyo-A-Go Go! Dance 'N' Skate Club Playset- I don't really have to worry about, thank heavens. (There are times I wish I had a little girl. Then, I go into the girls' section of a toy department, and I'm reminded how much smarter G-d is than me.)

WATCH also put out its Top 10 most dangerous toys list.Their list is a little... obsessive. I mean, most of their comments are just common sense. "Don't use the carpet skates near stairs. May cause serious injury." Really? Skates might cause injury? Who knew? (oh, wait... I'd forgotten how stupid the general public can be... never mind...)

And the, from the New Faykland Sun Times Herald Star (please, put down the drink NOW), here's another list of dangerous toys:
1. Choppy, the Razor-Sharp Cleaver-Wielding Zombie-Cat - With spring-loaded decapitating action. (Decapitation.)
2. Dr. Wibbles’ Fun-Time Home Biological Weapons Lab - Bubonic Plague Edition. (Bubonic Plague.)
3.Baby Chokes-a-Lot Miscellaneous Walnut-Sized Chunks of Plastic (Skin irritation.)
4. Noosey, the Laugh-a-Minute Playground Rope Toy (Rope burns, accidental hanging.)
5. My Very First Acupuncture Set - Used Drug Needle Edition. (Hepatitis, heroin overdose.)
6. Auntie Lulu’s Unstable Pile of Three Thousand Pound Boulders Adventure Set (Inadvertent crushing.)
7. The “Medications Yet to Be Approved by the FDA” Colouring Book and Sample Pack (Hair loss, severe acne, testicular swelling, drug induced coma.)
8. The “My Little Landmine” Backyard Play Set (Explosions.)
9. Baby’s First Passenger-Side Airbag (Airbag)
10. Sammy the Exhaust-Pipe Hose Snake w/ Face Mask (Asphyxiation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome.)
Yes, it was sick, twisted humor. Uh... should I say I'm sorry?

Take Off!!

President and Mrs. Bush are on their way to Canukistan Ottowa, Canada, today. Well, that should be fun. There will be plenty of protests. Yawn.

Yeah, Prime Minister Martin seems to be more pro-American than Chretien ever dreamed of being in his worse nightmares. And, according to some of the LC Canucks, there is quite a bit of US-support once you get out of Quebec and Ottowa, the capitol. (I don't mean to be overly critical of our friends to the North, but... I think someone screwed up when they put Ottawa on the Ontario side of that border. Seriously... it just seems so... so... French...)

So, when do we offer a trade? We'll take everthing west of the Quebec/Ontario border (we'll re-draw the map so they can have Ottowa and maybe even Toronto), and they can have New England down to Maryland. Wouldn't everyone be happier that way?

Update on Lance Corporal Renehan

Spence just let us know that Kyle will be med-evaced to Germany as soon as possible.

I will update further as I get information.

Please continue to keep the whole family in your prayers.

original post

update #2

Monday, November 29, 2004

Adult Beverage Survey... Holiday edition... Take 2

Somehow, Blogspot managed to eat my last ABS post. I'll try to recreate it from memory... and I'll mention the two comments I've received so far...

In keeping with the Holiday theme around here, the ABS takes a turn to... holiday drink recipes. Are there any drinks that just scream "Merry Christmas!" to you? Well... share them in the comment section. Yes, I want the recipe.

One of my favorites is the Tom & Jerry. I have no idea who Tom and Jerry were (and to answer LSI, K&T's comment, I don't think they're talking about the cat and mouse cartoon characters), but they sure knew how to make a good warm beverage. Here's the recipe. You probably don't need the special punch bowl and cute little cups to enjoy it, but... what's the point?

So... how about you?

The Brit Student chimed in with "mulled wine." Yum....

Urgent Prayer Request

One of the regulars in the VRWC chat room, Spencer (SLG) has an urgent prayer request. His brother, Lance Corporal Kyle Renehan, USMC, was seriously injured during a mortar attack in Iraq today. His right leg was broken in two places (not sure if he'll be able to keep it or not), abdomen and arm hit, but no serious injuries there, and shrapnel hit his head. He's out of surgery- they think it went well. His other brother, Chris, was flown in from somewhere else in Iraq to be with him in Baghdad.

Please keep Kyle, Chris, Spence, and the rest of their family in your prayers. Their mom is having a really rough time right now, and Dad's not doing much better.

If you'd like to contact Spence, his e-mail is (e-mail removed by request- ed.)

I will update this as I get more information.

update #1

update #2

update #3

Every Good Deed...

... evidently gets you canned...

Do you remember Steve Gardner, the only one of twelve men who served on a Swift Boat with John Kerry to speak out against him? Well, he's paying the price for his words. (hat tip to Powerline) The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that he is now broke and unemployed.

Twenty-four hours later, Gardner's employer, Millennium Information Services, informed him via email that his posiiton with the company was being eliminated and that his services were no longer required. Gardner says that he has since seen the company advertising for his old position.

Gardner, the father of three, now is broke and unemployed. Nonetheless, he says he'd speak against Kerry all over again because "I couldn't ever see [Kerry] as commander in chief -- not after what I saw in Vietnam, not after the lies I heard him tell about what he says he did and what he says others did." (quote from Powerline)

There is also a follow-up which includes an e-mail address for Mr. Gardner, in case anyone has job leads or offers of assistance.

It's sad, isn't it? This man voiced his opinion about a candidate for office, and he's been destroyed, just for telling the truth. John Kerry's campaign was so afraid of what the Swifties had to say that they sought not fight their accusations, but chose instead to tear down the men themselves. OK... that's not sad... that's pathetic.

What I truly admire is that he would do it all again, knowing the hell the DNC and the 527s put him and his family through. My prayers go out to him and his family.

Random Christmas Memory #4

Here's another one about my little sister.

The Muppets were on tv back when my sister was a baby, and the "John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together" was on right around her first birthday. My parents immediately bought me the album. On it, there is a song called "A Baby Just Like You." I can remember rocking her, singing that song to her, even when the Christmas season was over. I'd change the name in the song from "Zachary" to "Stephanie"- it was a perfect fit.

A Baby Just Like You by John Denver and Joe Henry
The season is upon us now, The time for gifts and giving
As the year draws to its close, I think about my living

Of Christmas time when I was young, The magic and the wonder
Colors dull and candles dim, And dark my standing under

Oh little angel, shining light, You've set my soul to dreaming
You've given back my joy of life, And filled me with new meaning

A savior king was born that day, A baby just like you
As the wise men came with gifts, I come with my gift too
That peace on earth fills up your time, And brotherhood surrounds you
That you may know the gift of love, And wrap it all around you

It's just a wish, A dream I'm told, Of days when I was young

Merry Christmas little Zachary Stephanie
Merry Christmas every one
Merry Christmas little Zachary Stephanie
Merry Christmas every one

OK... I'll admit it... a couple of years ago, I bought the cd. And I still change the name. Who cares if she's not a little baby anymore. Heck... she's taller than me, now... Doesn't matter....

Happy Anniversary

(This piece is copied from My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy- go visit "the other Beth" as often as possible)

November 29, 1947 - November 29, 2004

This BlogBurst piece is cross-posted by participating websites, to commemorate a milestone in Israel’s history. The list of the participating sites is appended at the end of this post.
November 29, 2004:

Anniversary of the UN vote on Resolution 181

Today is the anniversary of the 1947 UN vote on Resolution 181, which approved the partition of the western part of Palestine into a predominately Jewish state and a predominately Arab state. (It is vital to recall that the UN partition plan referred to western Palestine, to underscore that in 1921 the eastern part was ripped off the Jewish National Home by the British Government and handed over to the then Emir Abdullah.)

The partition plan was approved by 33 to 13, with 10 abstentions.

The 33 countries that cast the “Yes” vote were: Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Byelorussia, Canada, Costa Rica, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Haiti, Iceland, Liberia, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Sweden, Ukraine, Union of South Africa, USSR, USA, Uruguay, Venezuela. (Among other countries, the list consists of the US, the three British Dominions, all the European countries except for Greece and the UK, but including all the Soviet-block countries.)

The 13 countries that chose the Hall of Shame and voted “No” were: Afghanistan, Cuba, Egypt, Greece, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, Yemen. (Ten of these are Islamic countries; Greece has the special distinction of being the only European country to have joined the Hall of Shame.)

The ten countries that abstained are: Argentina, Chile, China, Colombia, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Honduras, Mexico, United Kingdom, Yugoslavia.

On November 30, 1947, the day following the vote, Palestinian Arabs murdered six Jews in a bus making its way to Jerusalem, and proceeded to murder another Jew in the Tel-Aviv - Jaffa area. This was a prelude to a war that claimed the lives of 6,000 Jews, or 1% of the total Jewish population in 1948. This toll is the per capita equivalent of today’s Canada losing 300,000 lives, or the US losing 3,000,000.

The object of the war, launched by the Arabs in the former Palestine and the armies of Egypt, Transjordan, Syria and Lebanon (with help from other Arab countries), was to “throw the Jews into the sea". As the partition map indicates, however, rather than annihilate the Jewish population, the Arabs ended up with less territory than they would have gained by peaceful means.

In addition to the bloodshed in nascent Israel, immediately after the UN vote, Arabs attacked their Jewish neighbors in a number of Arab countries, with the murders in Syria’s Aleppo being the best known.

Bruised and bleeding, Israel prevailed nonetheless.

May our sister-democracy thrive and flourish.

New Breakthrough in Stem Cell Therapy

A South Korean woman, paralyzed for 20 years, is walking again, thanks to stem cell therapy.

The good news for those of us opposed to fetal stem cell research- the stem cells came from cord blood, not fetal cells.
They said it was the world's first published case in which a patient with spinal cord injuries had been successfully treated with stem cells from umbilical cord blood... Though they cautioned that more research was needed and verification from international experts was required, the South Korean researchers said Hwang's case could signal a leap forward in the treatment of spinal cord injuries...The use of stem cells from cord blood could also point to a way to side-step the ethical dispute over the controversial use of embryos in embryonic stem-cell research.
From everything that I've read (The Reagan Institute is a good place to start), embryonic stem cells only offer hope for the baby, not for anyone else. All the research so far has led to tumors and death. Adult stem cells (yes, we have them, too) and cord blood cells offer the best hope for breakthroughs in several diseases.

We know what works (adult and cord blood stem cells), and we know what doesn't (embryonic stem cells). WIth any luck, cases like this will bring attention to the cord and adult stem cell research that is being done and maybe change people's minds about what future steps to take in research.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Random Christmas Memory #3

My sister was born 6 days before Christmas. What makes that even more interesting is that she was born almost 8 weeks before her due date. Needless to say, she was... little. And, back then, babies born that early didn't have the terrific odds they do now. But... my sister is also really, really stubborn. Has been from Day 1. That's a good thing in this story.

So, it's about 6am on Dec 19th. I'm 9 years old. We have maybe 2 more days of school before Christmas break. My mom comes in and wakes me up with "You need to get up now. The baby is coming." "Yeah, Mom, I know... in February. Go back to bed." "No, Hon, my water just broke. I'm in labor. The baby is coming today. You need to get dressed now." Uh.... WHAT?

So, my grandma came and got me and took me to a friend's house. My dad, who had just arrived at work when Mom called the Plant, turned around, picked her up, and got her to the hospital a lot quicker than was probably legal. Less than 7 hours later, my sister came into the world, screaming her head off.

That night, the nurse came in to check on my mom in her room, but she was gone. They found her at the other end of the hospital at the NICU, watching my sister. They got her a wheelchair, gave her a stern talking to, then took her back to her room.

I finally got to see her later in the week. I don't think I got to hold her until she came home from the hospital almost a month later. (She came home the same day that her baby shower was held.)

That Christmas, when my parents took me over to my grandparents' house, there was a HUGE box with Steph's name on it. It was full of all those important things a new baby needs, including a "Baby's First Christmas" ornament. How did Santa know?

OK, I didn't think so at the time, but that was a pretty cool Christmas present. I mean, how many people get a baby sister for Christmas?

A Man of the People

Beldar has a great post about a photo of the President taken on Friday at a small restaurant in Crawford. He's got a good point about the kind of people the Bushes are. They're "ordinary", "normal"... "real."

"Hat hair"... teeheehee... I like it.

The Real Charlie's Angels

Michelle Malkin has a link to a National Guard story about 3 medics from Charlie Company,North Dakota National Guard, their very own "Charlie's Angels."

National Treasure: A Movie Review

Last night, we went to see National Treasure, the new adventure movie starring Nicholas Cage. For a super-quick description, think Indiana Jones set in the US.

There's a certain need for "suspension of reality"- you have to buy into the Masonic traditions and the legend of a treasure (or ignore it for two hours) or you'll just shake your head the whole time. One good thing is that they addressed the disbelief in the movie, and they approached it in a manner that made it almost believable.

The story: Nicholas Cage's family had been given a clue to the whereabouts of the Knights Templar / Freemason treasure back in the 1800s, and it has been handed down from father to son ever since. Ben Gates (Cage) gets funding (from someone he should have probably done a background check on first) and finally figures out the clue. One thing leads to another (big explosions, etc) and he and his friend, Riley, need to save the Declaration of Independence from being stolen. When the FBI and DHS ignore them, Gates decides to steal it himself to keep it out of the hands of the bad guy (well portrayed by Sean Bean). The adventure takes them from the Artic Circle to D.C. to Philladelphia to New York City, all in a quest to save the Declaration and find the mythical treasure.

Is this a good movie? I thought so. Would I recommend this movie? Sure thing, even for kids (as long as they can handle explosions and some tense situations, but even those aren't so bad.) You'll really like it if you like a lot of 'one-liners"- the script is full of them. (This movie got thumbs up from everyone in the household, so I'm not alone in this.)

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Lunch with a Tyrant

It's not that I forgot to mention this earlier. Really. I just was trying to figure out how to put into words how totally AWESOME it was to have lunch with Lord Spatula I, K&T.

So, a few days ago, T1, T2, and I met LSI at, of all places, Hooters. I'll admit it- I haven't been there since I was about 17 months pregnant, so my opinion might have been a bit biased. The boys have been there many times with Hubby (Guys Night Out and all that), but I've always passed on the opportunity. They've been kind enough to bring me leftovers, but reheated wings just lose something. So, sure... why not? I need to get over my poor self image, right?

First, a brief restaurant review. Good food. Never thought of putting buffalo seasoning on shrimp. Good idea. I felt sorry for a few of the waitresses- I mean, I know they have to wear the uniform and all, but... I can't say much... they all looked better than I would in that get-up.

Now... as for the company... well, T1 and T2 get bored easily, but they did really good, for the most part. They ask a lot of questions, though, and, darn it, they tend to interrupt. I'm working on that. And LSI, well... I don't want to ruin his reputation on the Rott as a tyrant or anything, but... he's one of the good guys. Nah, I'm not gonna use any of the adjectives that come to mind (he'd blush and then have to go kick a troll to restore his rep), but let's just say that if you get the chance, spend some time with him. He's a good friend to have around.

Only one complaint, though. When LSI saw my vehicle, he made a crack about a stereotypical soccer mom something or other. I am NOT a "soccer mom," dang it! My kids played soccer, but I think we cured them of that. I'm a football mom, a team mom, a room mom, a security mom, but I am NOT a soccer mom. Even if my kids would play it again, I still wouldn't be a soccer mom, if just in protest. That's just way it's got to be.

Random Christmas Memory #2

Growing up, my family (aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents) all lived within 30 minutes of each other. Now, I realize how amazing that was. Then, it's just the way it was.

Because of that close proximity, my Dad's parents would call each of their 3 children to make sure that everyone was awake and that the presents had been opened, then they made the rounds to each house. They spent only about 20 minutes at each house, but they made sure to "ooooh" and "aaaahhhh" over each and every little thing that Santa had left for the grandkids. They did this even though we would all be at their house in a matter of hours to see what Santa had left over there. Then Grandma and Grandpa would "oooh" and "aaaahhhh" over all of those gifts.

What did you go through for your turkey?

Sgt. Salvedra dodged a car bomb to deliver Thanksgiving dinner to a remote post outside Mosul on Thursday. It's a great story. Go read the whole thing. Talk about dedication! (hat tip to Blackfive)

Bah Humbug

OK, wrong Christmas story. Evidently, some of the neighbors in a certain Monte Sereno, California, neighborhood didn't like the elaborate Christmas display the Aerts put in their front yard every year. So, they put together a petition, and the city passed an ordinance making it illegal to have a huge display without a permit. Fine. Whatever.

What did the Aerts do? They erected a huge Grinch in their yard. Gotta love it!!!

(hat tip to Emma)

Dolphins and Sharks, oh my!

My mom sent me an article to pass on to T2 the other day. (T2 being a big dolphin fan- T1's not- must have something to do with getting bit by one at Sea World, but I digress...)

According to the article, a pod of dolphins saved some swimmers from a great white shark.
The dolphins, "started to herd us up, they pushed all four of us together by doing tight circles around us," Howes told the newspaper. When Howes tried to break away from the protective group, two of the bigger dolphins herded him back, he said.

Howes then spotted what he described as a 10-foot great white shark cruising toward them, but the man-eater was apparently repelled by the ring of dolphins and swam away.
This isn't the first story I've heard like this. There are plenty of stories of dolphins coming to the rescue. They're just cool that way. (OK, they're cool in a lot of ways, but you know what I mean.)

But this particular instance makes this all the more disgusting.
POACHERS in New Zealand may have killed two members of a pod of dolphins that recently saved the lives of swimmers from a great white shark attack, lifeguards said yesterday.

The mutilated carcasses of the two bottlenose dolphins were found on Wednesday in the Awaroa River, which branches off the upper reaches of Whangarei Harbour on North Island’s east coast.

Staff from New Zealand’s Department of Conservation (DOC) believe the dolphins died about two weeks ago after drowning in fishing nets set out by criminals poaching fish. DOC officer Richard Parrish said their tails had been hacked off, probably to free them from the net.
No, I'm not going to go off on the evils of fishing or anything like that. But there are legal ways to fish (which keep dolphins safe) and illegal ways (which kill them). The fishermen who did this were poachers, and they should be found and arrested.

I'm upset that these dolphins, who were part of the pod that saved those swimmers' lives just a couple of weeks ago, were trapped and drowned like that. But, if they hadn't saved those swimmers, would it even have made the news? So, maybe, if some poachers are prosecuted, some good can come from this cruelty.

SI Sportsman of the Year

This year, there are several awesome athletes to chose from in SI's Sportsman of the Year poll. Right now, Lance Armstrong and Michael Phelps (Olympic swimmer) are numbers 1 and 2.

Number 3? Pat Tillman. There's an online campaign to get him elected as the SotY. I think it's a worthy cause.

Lance is probably one of the greatest athletes ever. Michael Phelps did amazing things in the Olympics. But Pat Tillman left his sport for a higher calling. And he sacrificed it all for the nation he loved.

Choosing Tillman as the SI Sportsman of the Year would be not only a tribute to him as an athlete, but to him and his fellow soldiers who have fallen in defense of our country.

And, in case you were wondering, you can vote more than once. Just hit Refresh.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Random Christmas memory #1

My Godfather was Polish (I'm not sure if he was actually born there or not, but I know his parents had been, and he used to visit Warsaw as often as possible.) He and his family were very involved in the local PNA (Polish National Alliance) chapter in our area.

Every Christmas they had Mass and a Christmas party for all the families. The Mass was in Polish (I knew 2 words... "Hallelujah" and "Amen") Then we'd have a great meal and sit on Santa's lap and get a gift.

Haven't been to one of those Christmas parties in... well... a very long time. But I miss them. And I miss Uncle Frank.

G.I. Granny

OK... not quite, but this is one awesome lady.

LAWTON, Okla. (AP) - A 72-year-old great-grandmother is preparing for deployment to the war zone in Iraq and will become one of the oldest Department of Defense civilian workers in the war zone. "I volunteered," said Lena Haddix of Lawton, who has five children, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. "I wanted to do something for the country, because I was always left behind taking care of the children."
Mrs. Haddix was a military wife, and she's had almost 30 years experience working for the PX at Ft. Sill. Personally, I think she's done quite a bit for our country, but I guess she wants to do more.

The PX is more than just a store for soldiers, she said. It's also a boost to morale, giving soldiers stationed overseas a link to the United States and Haddix said that's why she wants to go to Iraq.
"I just see so many of the boys. They're like little kids. They keep telling me, 'I'm going over,' or 'I've just come back,'" she said. "I would just like to go over and be with them."
This might sound weird, but I think this will be good for the guys and gals over in Iraq. I may have her pegged totally wrong, but she seems like an awesome grandma type... and those ladies can have a real calming effect on people. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's their nuturing spirit. She's obviously got that.
And Haddix said others have tried to talk her out of her decision, to no avail.
"I'd already made up my mind I wanted to go. I just wanted to do something for myself and other people instead of working and coming home.
"I'm sure there'll be times that I'll be scared, but I'm not now."
If I believed in reincarnation (which I don't) I'd have to guess she was a Marine in a former life. She's one tough cookie.
Haddix is now going through much of the same process soldiers go through before deployment, including shots and a thorough medical checkup to make sure she's physically able to do a tour of at least six months. She will be sent to Fort Bliss, Texas, for one week of training, then be sent to Germany where she will receive her orders on where in Iraq she will be stationed.
Good luck and Godspeed, Mrs. Haddix. You do us all proud. (Anyone want to take a guess at how many units adopt her before all is said and done?)

Some Interesting Medical News

When I was a teenager, my little sister was bit by a neighborhood dog. (Yeah, I was babysitting- I was inside, and she was playing in the yard. I didn't hear her yell. Oh, yeah... there was guilt involved.) The bite barely broke the skin, but it did bleed. When the owner of the dog refused to allow the dog to be quarantined (to watch for rabies), my sister was forced to have a series of rabies vaccine injections. Fortunately for her, when this happened, they had already discovered that all of the injections do not need to be into the abdominal tissue, just the first one. The rest of the injections went into the thigh muscle. (Hubby's cousin had to have the whole series in his gut... then again, he was probably doing something amazingly stupid.) My best friend's mom bought her a big stuffed panda for her to hug during the shots. She was a trooper. (No, I don't think she's ever forgiven the jerk from 2 blocks over for not just quarantining the dang dog for a few weeks.)

We all know what the fear was- if my sister hadn't had the shots, and the dog had been infected with rabies, then she probably would have died (very few people recover once they present symptoms of rabies, and all of those people had received the vaccine.) Rabies is a mean way to die.

Well, now there might be a cure. Without the vaccine. A girl in Wisconsin survived because of a new, experimental treatment. Because she was so far gone by the time she sought treatment, the doctors had nothing to lose. They put her into a chemically induced coma and gave her 4 different anti-viral medications. They're not sure which one worked. But it did work. They will have to try it again, just to make sure. (Not that they're encouraging someone to not seek treatment, but... if someone else is in that situation...)

Yes, the treatment involving multiple injections will still be the standard, but it's nice to know that they may now have a back-up, just in case.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Yes, Boys and Girls, it's that time of year.

By now, everyone who is going to has already said "thanks" to everyone (and especially The One who made - and continues to make- this Nation great) that they're going to thank. Spongebob's float made it down the street safely in the Macy's parade. Leftovers have hopefully been put safely away. Everyone watched Payton Manning kick butt. We all tried really hard to keep the family fighting to a minimum.

Tomorrow is The Day. My sister (who works at a dept store) has to be at work at 4am. Millions of insane women (and their equally insane husbands) will hit the stores, grabbing those amazing deals that only happen for 4 hours, one day a year. Trees will be trimmed, leftovers eaten, and presents hid before the kids figure out what's happening.

Thus begins The Season. "So... have you sent your letter to Santa yet?" "What does Little Suzi want?" "What size?" "Oh, I MUST have that recipe!" "Hmm... another get together? I guess we can squeeze it in between the kids' program at school and the office party." "Where did we hide the matchbox cars? I need to wrap them!" "How in the world do you put this together? And why did I wait until now?" "Shhh... you're going to wake up the kids! And don't forget to eat the cookie!"

I'm a Christmas fanatic. It's my favorite holiday, full of magic and wonder. The smells, the sights, the sounds, the flavors... yup... I love it all.

But I do mean ALL. We'll be at church on Christmas Eve, celebrating the birth that is the Reason for the Season (sorry- cliché but true). No, I don't bake a birthday cake for Jesus... cute, but just not my style. For some people, that's the perfect way to honor Him. Just not me.

Take a moment this Season to remember why we're celebrating. For some, it is just a time for famliy (and gross commercialization). For others, it's a time of reflection. For others, it's a celebration of victory and miracles. For others, it's a celebration of a tremendous Gift. A Wonderful Gift.

Just thought I'd warn you... it's my favorite time of the year...

Ah, yes... I think I'm going to just sit back with my hot chocolate, turn out the lights, and look at the Christmas tree, all lit up, and listen to a little Fresh Aire Christmas.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Blonde Jokes Going the Way of the Dodo?

From Ananova:
Blonde jokes to be banned?

Blonde jokes are set to be banned in Hungary after blonde women staged an angry protest outside parliament.

The protestors handed in a petition claiming they were being discriminated against in every walk of life by bad taste blonde jokes.

And spokeswoman Zsuzsa Kovacs said: "Blondes face discrimination in the job market, in the workplace when they get a job, and even on the streets.

"People are banned from discriminating against Jews, or blacks, so why not grant blondes the same protection."

The petition was handed to the equal opportunities minister Kinga Goncz asking her to investigate whether jokes about blondes fall into the same category as religious discrimination.

The petition was just short of the 100,000 needed to force Parliament to debate the matter but Goncz's deputy who spoke to the crowd pledged the government would act to stop any discrimination.

Blondes - real and bleached - protested outside the ministry as the petition was handed in, waving banners with slogans like 'We're blonde, not stupid' and Love us for our minds.

Most of the blondes that I know are incredibly intelligent, so most blonde jokes that I make are aimed at me when I have highlights bleached into my own hair. I can't imagine that there is any true discrimination (well, in the US, at least) against blondes. Then again, I'm a brunette, so I wouldn't know...

Unfortunately, this is just another example of victim mentality and people who just can't take a joke. Geeez....

The Tap of Youth

From Ananova:
World's oldest man likes a beer

The world's oldest man says the secret of long life is a good beer every day.

German Hermann Doernemann, aged 111, took the title after the death of American Fred Hale.

The retired electrical engineer says a daily dose of a good dark beer kept him feeling on top of the world.

Mr Doernemann, who lives with his children, is officially the world's oldest man but he's a long way off being the oldest person.

The Los Angeles-based Gerontology Research Group, which keeps records of the world's oldest people, says 26 women are older than him.
When we visited Germany, we stopped at the monastery in Andechs. There we had some of the best food we had on the entire trip. We also did some people-watching, and a little old lady caught my attention. She was probably about 80 years old, and she was drinking a LARGE (I'm guessing here, but I'd say 50 oz. or even more) dark beer. The mug was almost as big as she was.

Maybe those Germans are on to something.

Monday, November 22, 2004

I like it!

While cruising the blogosphere, I came across this quiz at Who Tends The Fires:

Which Literature Classic are you?

Shakespeare: Sonnets. Everyone has heard of you,
and almost everybody can find something
touching in you. You are calm and control
yourself, even though your wisdom and your
messages are no lesser than those of others.

Which literature classic are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Anti-Gun Idiot

You probably already heard about the guy who shot several people in Wisconsin during a "hunting incident."

First the facts, as we know them now:
Two hunters returned to their tree stand to find Chai Vang using their stand. There was a confrontation. Vang... well... lost it. He shot the two hunters, but one was able to use a 2-way radio to send for help. Those who responded were shot. Five people killed, at least 3 more wounded.

Here's how the LLL is starting to go after it:

Jeffery Gardere, a clinical psychologist, was just on FoxNews. I just watched the interview- I don't have a transcript. Sorry. He started out good. Sure, Vang probably had some psych issues. The Laotian community where he lives is untrusting of most western medicine (mental health services included), using shamans, etc. instead. He's doing good so far. Then he said something about needing psychological screening for all gun owners. (come on... it's his job... and he's a moonbat... you knew it would be in here somewhere, didn't you?)

Then, Mr. Gardere crossed way over the line. He said (and I'm paraphrasing here, remember), "keep in mind that these people had guns. When you're in a heated situation, you will let the weapon do the talking for you." WHAT? There are THOUSANDS of people hunting this week, and I'm pretty sure some of them will get mad at someone. Are they all going to go off and shoot each other? Gang-bangers? Sure... THEY'LL let the guns do the talking... hunters? no way.

But, wait! He digs deeper. "Well, we're not sure if alcohol was involved, but, you KNOW it usually is on these hunting trips." I'm serious. He said that. I know a lot of people who hunt. And, granted, most of them enjoy an adult beverage or two. AFTER they're finished for the day.(The strongest "drugs" that any hunter that I know would be on is cold medicine or caffeine. That's it.) I realize that there are idiots in the world who will mix the two, but I don't know anyone like that. 99% of hunters know that they're dealing with weapons that kill things (kinda hard to eat a deer if it's alive.) To presume that most hunters are that irresponsible shows a glaring lack of knowledge about hunting and hunters.

What happened was horrific. What happened was a crime. What happened was probably the actions of a sick, paranoid man who needed help (no, I'm not removing blame from him... I'm just saying that he was probably a few fries short of a Happy Meal.) What happened cannot be blamed on Joe Hunter or his rifle. Doesn't work that way.

Mr. Gardere is sadly mistaken. He shows a definite lack of understanding about hunters and hunting.
Simple-minded, stereotyping myopic ass!

Their Incompetence Is Underwhelming

French medical officials turned over Yasser Arafat's medical records to his nephew, Nasser al-Kidwa, who immediately declared that it was all Israel's fault. (Read the article- he said it. I swear.) So... how did Arafat die?
Yasser Arafat's medical records show no sign he was poisoned but are inconclusive as to the cause of his death, his nephew said Monday... The lack of solid information about the cause of death has provided fertile ground for rumors in the Arab world that he was poisoned, despite earlier official denials.
So, they spent how many days treating him? They ran how many different tests on him? And... they "lack solid information about the cause of death"?

Memo to self... if I ever find myself in France and need medical attention for as much as a hangnail, I'm hightailing it back to the States as quick as I can.

Let me guess... socialized medicine? Thought so...

Where'd she go?

I was going to post earlier, but blogspot was having issues. Oh, well...

Went to a SAMI show yesterday (ummm... professional craft show).... it was my weekend to volunteer at church, so.... that's where I was the rest of the weekend. Sorry about that no posting thing... naps happen.

Posting will be light the next few days. Cooking and cleaning will take up a chunk of my time on Monday and Tuesday (small group converging here for a turkey feast Tuesday night). Wednesday, the boys and I are headed up to Dallas for another turkey dinner with Hubby's family (he has to work,so he gets out of it doesn't get to go.) Trying to sneak in a lunch with other bloggers while I'm up there.

So... in all honesty, I'm putting up a "light posting" alert, knowing that it might inspire a flood of posts... Oh, wait... the flood is in my back yard... again... never mind...

My dogs are getting really tired of all this rain... me, too...

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Canine advice, please...

Before I tell my tale of woe and beg for advice, let me show you who the main characters are in my little story...

"Snort" and "Mike"

Cute, aren't they? Harmless little fuzzballs, right?

WRONG!!! Hmmm... let me set the scene... We have a 6 foot privacy fence all around our back yard (I really don't like them, but that's another post.) We have new neighbors, and they have a dog whose breed I have not determined yet. We also have evil cocker spaniels that live behind us.

Our Corgi, Snort, is a curious little thing. Eh... really, she's just nosey. She needs to know what's going on on the other side of the fence. She just has to. BUT, she can't get through the fence. That's where Mike comes in. He does all of her dirty work for her.

A couple of days ago, Hubby squished through the mud to fix the hole Mike put in the fence trying to get to their "new friend." I come home today, and guess what!!! A new hole... same exact spot. We have an electric wire running along the fence, but the brackets break so easily that we can't keep it electrified for long... I don't want anything that will look tacky (althought big holes in the fence look pretty bad)...

Thoughts? Anyone? PLEASE????

Your "Feel Good" Story of the Day

There's a happy dolphin in Japan these days. Fuji became sick a couple of years ago, and, to save her life, they had to amputate 3/4 of her tail fin. Obviously, her speed and strength was greatly diminished. So, the zoo staff got together with the Bridgestone company, and they developed an artificial fin for her.

She can't wear it all the time (they're afraid it might fall off and get destroyed by the other dolphins), but, for 20 minutes a day, she swims and jumps with the rest of her dolphin family.


Anyone else sick and tired of the thugs in the NBA? Last night was just the tip of the iceburg for me.

Yeah, I know... it not just basketball. It seems as if professional athletes from many sports are getting out of hand, with an above the law, "I am god" attitude. But basketball players took the lead long ago, and it looks like their competitive instincts have kicked in, and they are way out of control. And, no, I'm not giving the idiot fans a free pass. Not a chance.

There need to be arrests. There need to be suspensions. Professional sports players have been given a free pass because of their celebrity far too long.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Nope! Not us!

We would never, EVER gloat. ( make sure you have the sound on and the volume UP) (hat tip to the Inoperable Terran)

Everything Old is New Again...

20 million viewers tuned in to watch the premier of the Band Aid 20 video "Do They Know It's Christmas?" Paul McCartney and Bono have added their voices to the remake of the 1984 charity single.

You know, I hope this one ends better than the first one. I'm trying to find news articles about this (yahoo news is not my friend this morning), but no luck yet. But, IIRC, didn't they end up buying a bunch of food, ship it to Ethiopia, and the food rotted on the tarmac because no one bothered to ask the Ethiopian government if they wanted help with their crisis?

James Blake Miller... know who he is?

Lance Corporal Miller is probably better known as the new "Marlboro Man."

Remember him now?

Well... he cleans up pretty well... (for some reason, I'm having trouble getting the picture to download. Click on the link... you can see him in the second photo down... he's a cute kid... I stress kid... he looks about 12... yeah, I know he's 20... he still looks 12...)

He seems to have a handle on his sudden fame and fortune.
"I was just smokin' a cigarette and someone takes my picture and it all blows up," Miller told them Friday.
That's a good article about his family. His brother can't believe that women might be interested in Big Brother, and Mama wants to have a long chat with her eldest son about his new smoking habit. And she just wants her baby to come home safe.

From your lips to God's ears, Ms. Webber... from your lips to God's ears...

Anyone Else Have a Problem With This?

Sarah Jessica Parker helped UNICEF (the United Nation's Children's Fund) light the world's largest outdoor chandelier in New York City last night. There are 12,000 Baccarat crystals in the light sculpture, which looks like a snowflake. (Evidently, Baccarat made another group of chandeliers to be hung over Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.)

The NYC snowflake, which hangs over 57th Street, has become a NYC tradition in the past 20 years, and it has been dedicated to UNICEF since 2002.

Nice. It's dedicated to UNICEF. How... philanthropic of them. But I can't help but think that the millions of dollars spent on those chandeliers could have been put to a better purpose. UNICEF is far from a perfect organization, but.... to think of the medicines... the water purification systems... the FOOD they could buy.

That's just sad...

No Confidence!

FoxNews is reporting there will be a No Confidence vote on Kofi Annan. Can find a link, but I'm still looking.

Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

UPDATE: Here's a link.

The UN staff union, in what officials said was the first vote of its kind in the more than 50-year history of the United Nations, was set to approve a resolution withdrawing support for the embattled Annan and senior UN management.

Annan has been in the line of fire over a high-profile series of scandals including controversy about a UN aid programme that investigators say allowed deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to embezzle billions of dollars.

Staffers said the trigger for the no-confidence measure was an announcement this week that Annan had pardoned the UN's top oversight official, who was facing allegations of favouritism and sexual harassment.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Stand By Our Men (and Women)

Slagle has a round-up of some of the blogosphere posts about the "Mosque Shooting" video. You know which one I'm talking about. The one where the insurgent (who may or may not have even been an Iraqi) was faking death, the Marine (who had faced this before) shot him, and the sleezy embed exploited the opportunity. Yeah, that one.

Here's my $.02... Granted, I can't read the Marine's mind... but... he yelled 3 (that's THREE) times that the guy was faking it... doesn't that seem like a perfect opportunity for said insurgent to surrender? To say "you got me! Now, please take me to a hospital!" But no, he continued to try to "fake it." There was another insurgent in the same room... he surrendered... he's still alive... does that tell you anything? This Marine had spent several days watching the insurgents break every "law" in the Geneva Convention that they could break... this Marine was responding accordingly.

Not because he's an animal, but because he had spent enough time fighting for his life against the animals.

Go, visit Slagle's site... click on his links, and sign the petition. Stand by our Armed Forces.

Oh, my... I can feel my arteries hardening...

In this era of healthy eating, Hardee's is taking a stand. A stand for gluttony. And you know they're going to make a bunch of money from this press. Gotta love it.

Here's a picture. You might want to grab a napkin to wipe the drool from your chin after you have a look.

While that's a little too much food for me (it packs in twice the calories of a Big Mac, my junk food of choice.), I have this sneaking suspicion that this will be T2's favorite meal soon. As of right now, he prefers Wendy's because of the "Big Bacon Cheeseburger." And it's not like we have to worry about childhood obesity with T1 and T2 (right after growth spurts, they sometimes resemble Ethiopian refugees - my m-i-l's description, not mine).

If only there were Hardee's down here.

Scary Smart Kids these days

Aaron Zweig is one smart kid. A scary smart kid. You know the kind- they know far too much considering their lack of years. I really like these kids. Sure, they make me feel... well... dumb, but I really like these kids.

Aaron is making the news because he correctly spelled a 301-letter word. He's nine. I think what makes this even better is that he paused halfway through the word to reassure his classmates that he was almost over.

According to the article:
The 310-letter word is too long to reproduce here but it starts: "Ornicopy..." and finishes: "ulinaniac". It was apparently used by medieval scribes to refer to someone who practices divination or forecasting by means of phenomena, interpretation of acts or various other manifestations.
I really think they should have typed it out. Maybe they were afraid they would spell it wrong. Well... if I'm not mistaken, here it is... just for you...
Ornicopytheobibliopsychocrystarroscioaerogenethliometeoroaustrohiero- anothropoichthyopyrosiderochpnomyoalectryoophiobotanopeg- ohydrorhabdocrithoaleuroalphitohalomolybdoclerobeloaxino- coscinodactyliogeolithonpessopsephrocatoptrotephraoneirochoonychodactyl- oarithstichooxogeloscogastrogyrocerobletonooenoscapulinaniac

Wednesday, November 17, 2004


Welcome to my new visitors from Mamamontezz's Mental Rumpus Room and SlagleRock's Slaughterhouse. Come on in and stay a while!

Biscuits and Gravy, anyone?

Today, President Bush carried on a White House tradition and pardoned the Thanksgiving Turkey. "Biscuits"( and the "back-up bird, "Gravy") will spend the rest of his life at a petting zoo. But, the great part was that he managed to get in a jab at Michael "I sure wouldn't have pardoned the bird- I'd have chowed down" Moore! To keep it in context, here's a section of his speech:
President Bush used the annual Thanksgiving turkey-pardoning rite Wednesday to roast the bitter campaign for the White House, jokingly recalling fund-raising disputes, attack ads and a polarizing political movie. "Now's the time for healing," he said, as he ceremonially spared two birds.

The winning "candidates" in his satirical rendition of the presidential campaign were Biscuits and Gravy, turkeys raised in Mathias, West Virginia. Their names came out on top on an online contest. "It was a close race. You might say it was neck and neck," Bush said. He spoke in the Rose Garden during a rare joint appearance with Vice President Dick Cheney.

"It came down to a few battleground states. It was a tough contest, and it turned out some 527 organizations got involved, including Barnyard Animals for Truth," Bush said, mocking the free-spending independent groups like Swiftboat Veterans for Truth known as 527s. The group raised questions about Democrat John Kerry's service in the Vietnam War.

"There was a scurrilous film that came out, 'Fahrenheit 375 Degrees At 10 Minutes Per Pound,"' he said, panning "Fahrenheit 9/11," the documentary film that assailed him over the handling of the September 11 attacks and the war on terrorism.

I am SOOOO glad he won!

Ark Building 101

Supposedly, Central Texas has a tendancy to have droughts. You'd never know it now. There is the rumor that there is a glowing orb that appears in the sky, bringing warmth and light to the world. I don't believe it. It's been raining off and on for a few days now. Our back yard is flooded (again.) T1 and T2 have had to walk to school with umbrellas (which makes using a scooter or bike as transport impossible). Our dogs are mad at the world (evidently, a new canine friend has moved in next door and they haven't had time to get properly acquainted... ok... I guess there is something good about the rain).

It's chilly, gray and gloomy. These are the kind of days when you want to get a mug of your choice of warm beverage, cuddle up on the coach, and read a book. Or take a nap.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

What's behind Door #3, Johnny?

This morning, Hubby and I attended the Benefits Fair at the Place of Employment™ (No, I'm not going to give you the name of The PoE™ - that way, if I ever feel the need to rant about it, Hubby's back is covered.) (R and J went also, which is a good thing, since J works with Hubby. Just makes sense...) Now, I get to sit down, wade through folders full of... stuff... and figure out which plan is best for our family.

The good news is that the mail order prescription program, which I thought was just a waste of time, will help us break even next year on our medications (when compared to our 2004 costs). Took some advanced calculus to figure it out, but...

The bad news... health care costs are going up. There's no way around it. (and, you better believe that I'm going to blame trial lawyers!) The PoE™ honestly does a wonderful job at providing the best possible coverage for their employees. This year is no different. The plans are a little different than before (no HMO anymore, but PPO and "Open Access" plans instead), but I'd bet they are still the envy of most employers in the area.

Not everything is great, of course. They have a weird deal about their vision plan- you can get EITHER contacts or glasses in one year, but not both (this OBVIOUSLY worked out by someone who needs neither, because people who wear contacts almost always have glasses as well...). But, that's ok, according to the nice lady I spoke with- you can always use your discount with a preferred vendor for the one that's not covered. Uh... right... needless to say, I'm making appointments for me and the boys to get our vision checked BEFORE the end of the year when the coverage changes. They need new contacts and glasses- I'm pretty sure of that.

And the allergy shots. They're covered at 100%. That's the good part. The BAD part is that you still have to pay your office co-pay for every shot. Hmmm... that's... $80 a month. Don't think so... Zyrtec is only $35 a month tops ($35/3 months if I use the mail order program). Works for me!

There was one thing that really struck me as just wrong during the meeting. The more I think about it, though, the less I see as "just wrong" and more as a "good idea wrapped in a bunch of fluff." (Hey, that's a step up for me!) The Place of Employment™ is making an Employee Assistance Program available to its employees. No idea what that is? I had no clue, either. An EAP is what it says- a program that strives to assist employees. The good parts of it include counseling (marital, grief, anger management, etc) free of charge to employees (well, 6 sessions per "issue), legal and financial counseling (with referals when applicable- with a discount) also free of charge, and "wellness coaches" to help with goals like weight loss and smoking cessation. In those cases, I can see where it would benefit the Place of Employment™ to provide those services- less stressed, healthier employees make the bottom line a happy line. The "fluff" parts are some of the "Work/Life Services" that they offer- while it's good to have a toll-free number that you can call for a referral if Little Johnny is sick and the daycare center won't let him come because he'll spread The Disease of the Week™ to more little crumb crunchers and you need to find someone to take care of him ASAP, it seems pointless for an employer to pay for a service to find theater tickets for you. They offer referral services for everything from day care to plumbers, scholastic testing and financial aid to volunteer opportunities in your area. Maybe it's just me, but aren't they charging for what I can accomplish with Google™ in about 20 minutes flat? Hmmm... maybe there is a business opportunity in this... but, hey... it's The PoE™ 's bottom line, not mine...

OK... time to go read some Insurance Mumbo Jumbo... anyone seen my lawyer dictionary???

Random Acts of Kindness

Oh, well... this is going to ruin his reputation... so be it.

Hubby and I are sitting at this Greek restaurant today (the food was quite tasty, btw.) It's the kind of place where you walk up to the counter, get your food, then find a table. So... we'd been sitting down about 10 minutes, and a group of 4 older women (by older... about my mom's age...) came in. It was crowded (lunchtime at any place near Dell is... packed), and there were no 4-person tables available. But there were some smaller tables for 2. Hubby says, "let's move to a smaller table, and ask them if they'd like our table."

Like I said, it might ruin his reputation as a big meanie. Oh, darn. That was just an incredibly nice thing to do. My in-laws raised him right!

Geeks v. Science Junkies

There are many different types of geeks. There are those who wear pocket protectors and can build themselves their own robot girlfriend. There are those who wash their hair once a week, wear goofy t-shirts, and play RPGs several nights a week (and talk the lingo when they're not playing.) There are those who dress up like their favorite sci-fi character (and not just at the cons) and wonder why people look at them funny when they start quoting that character in everyday conversations. There are the shy ones who talk to no one, never look anyone in the eye, but... if you mention Heinlein or Asimov or Clarke, they can pick apart realistic fact v. could-never-happen fantasy. Then of course, you have the closet geeks, who, to the outside world seem perfectly "normal", but, behind closed doors, they could be any of these other manifestations of geekdom. (Did I miss any?) Most of them can be identified by taking one look at their bookshelf... if their bookcase has more than... 75% sci-fi/ fantasy and/or hard science/tech manuals... they might be a geek.

Why do I bring this up? I'm definitely not dogging on geeks... let's see... I married one, his best friend is one (mildly)... I gave birth to two of them, several of my close on-line friends are... but, alas, I am not one. I mean, I love sci-fi movies (but sometimes I pick apart the bad science), and I used to read hard sci-fi books (the only fantasy books I've ever been able to get into are The Belgariad series and The Mallorian series - and the extra books- by David and Leigh Eddings.) But my kids start talking about damage points or the cool weapon in this game or the whatever in whichever game strikes their fancy this week, and my eyes glaze over. Hubby wants to get together with J and E to play Living Greyhawk- I say "fine... kill something evil"- but I have no idea what they actually do (besides eat, drink and roll dice). (quick story... I went with Hubby one night to Thor's Hammer - the local "gaming shop" and he played a session of Living Greyhawk. I spent at least an hour on the cell phone with Denita and then still managed to finish one book and start another.) Russ and Spats
and Hubby can tell you all about my ineptitude when it comes to computers. And just try to get those silly Vulcan ears on me and see what happens!!!

I may not be a geek, but I am a junkie... an information junkie... I LOVE learning things (when we were in school, I think the term "nerd" was used... but that can be confused with "geek", so.... ARGH!) I have to admit, I have my personal preferences as to what type of information I prefer to gather... politics (duh) and science (space and medical, mostly, but physics and chemistry are pretty nifty, too...) are my subjects of choice. History is becoming more and more interesting to me (thank you, History Channel!) Yes, we can get into the debate over geeks v. nerds v. science junkies (IMO, all geeks and nerds are science junkies to a certain extent; science junkies are not by default geeks or nerds.) Family members find me a little odd in this way (on my side of the family, there are no geeks, nerds or science junkies of any kind that I know of...except me... my dad is the closest thing to a junkie we have, and he is limited to medical shows.)

Yes, I watch Dr. Rosenfeld on FoxNews. I watched SpaceShip1 all three times it flew. I saw the X-Prize trophy in person. The Mars rovers are too cool (I made the boys sit through the taping of a PBS special on the Mars mission at the St. Louis Science Center in which Bill Nye the Science Guy was the host.) Yeah, I'll be watching in March when NASA tests the X-43A scramjet. The Astronomy Picture of the Day is on my daily site list. Get the picture?

So, why this in-depth look into my life as a science junkie? A friend of mine sent me this link. Another black hole? In the Milky Way? Whoa.

UPDATE: Well, dang it. George informs me that the X-43A flew today. That just stinks. I mean, I'm happy that all went well... at almost 7000 mph... but... but... I missed it! I can't believe I missed it!

Monday, November 15, 2004

The Seven Wonders

Lord Spatula I , K&T, has an awesome post. A gentle reminder. It's short. Go read it. You'll be glad you did.

Gunny Goes to Fallujah

(hat tip to Dane) Y'all know who R. Lee Ermey is, right? Gunny Hartman from Full Metal Jacket. His lovable self in the History Channel's Mail Call (one of T1 and T2's favorite shows). Well... looks like he made it to Fallujah... or... more precisely, his action figure did. Unfortunately for the former Marine gets no respect from the AFP- they referred to the "doll" as a "GI Joe action figure." (eh... what do you expect... they're French). Here's the pic:

How can you mistake Gunny for GI Joe? Geeez...

Sen. Clinton to soften her image

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is attempting to soften her image as part of her bid for the 2008 Democratic nomination for President. While that might work for the DNC faithful, most us will sympathize with the following movie quote (anyone remember what movie it's from?):
Rita: I'd like to make her look a little more attractive. How far can you pull back?

Cameraman: How do you feel about Cleveland?
Nope... I don't think Cleveland is far enough to make Hillary look soft... or moderate... or likable, even.

He is Outta Here!

FoxNews and Drudge are reporting that Colin Powell is resigning as Secretary of State. Can't say I'm sorry to him go. Great guy, not great Secretary of State.

Now the question is... who to replace him? My vote? Condi.

Nothing More than Evil... Pure Evil

Warning: this might be... upsetting for those of use with sensitive stomachs. Just thought I'd give you the heads up...

Islamic spokespeople tell us that we just don't understand them. If we took the time to learn about Islam, they'd see how peaceful they are... how much they hate violence... how much they respect women and seek only to protect them... how they just want to be left alone to worship in peace.


The body of a blond-haired Caucasian woman was found in Fallujah over the weekend. Her limbs had been severed, she had been disemboweled and her throat slashed. Her faced was disfigured.

This is how they respect and protect women?

During the re-taking of Fallujah, Coallition Forces have found two hostages still alive. They also found hostage slaughterhouses, explosives, weapons, and ammunition. They found shoulder-fired missiles, IEDs in various stages of completion, boxes of triggers, detonators, and other bomb parts. There were tunnels connecting different parts of the city, enabling stealth movement of munitions.

This is their interpretation of peace?

No. It's over. Too many times they've shown their true colors. Theirs is not a religion of peace. It's a religion of death.

Do not tell me this is not a spiritual war. I can no longer believe that.

They Have Those in France? Who Knew?

By "those", I'm referring to conservatives. Well, looks like there is at least one. According to this op-ed in the Dallas Morning News, Fred Gion is offering a trade: his Paris apartment is on the market, and he's willing to sell it to an American liberal. All because (are you sitting down?) he wants to move to a Red State- preferably Texas.

Since it's a registration required site (and I have yet to get BugMeNot to work) I'll copy/paste the entire op-ed piece for you. It's a good read. Like I said, I hadn't realized there were any conservatives left in France.
I dream of life in Red State America by FRED GION

Since the re-election of President Bush, I've been reading on American blogs and newspaper Web sites that lots of you, particularly in the Blue States, are talking about leaving your country for more culturally hospitable nations, like Canada, or even my native France.

Well, I can be of assistance. I can even help one of you would-be expatriates relocate here to Paris. My apartment is on the market, because I don't like it here anymore! I want to immigrate to Red State America.

I mean it. I've just filled an entry form for the annual diversity visa lottery administered by the U.S. government. I've done it for the fifth time, and now the odds are on my side.

I'm not in a rush. I'm not running from anything. I've got a comfortable life here. It's just that someday, I want to marry and have a family, and I don't want to raise my kids in France, or in Europe. The hope of the future, as I see it, is in America.

See, I want my green card because I need smiles, not the constant pouting we live with in France. I want to live where people are happy with their lives and confident about what's to come. I want to live among people like those I saw at the Republican convention, which I stayed up late to watch on CNN International. Those folks looked like they were fun to be with. They looked optimistic, pleased to be there, none more than that successful European immigrant, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

I have a strong faith, but I'm not exactly what you'd call religious. What scares me about French society today, though, are the consequences of total faithlessness. The French are sarcastic, cynical, greedy – and miserable. Is this despair the price of throwing away our religious traditions?

My family and I will be safer in America. Aside from Tony Blair, I don't think European leaders really understand the stakes in this war on Islamic terrorism. President Bush does. I deeply respected Sen. John Kerry, but I am reassured by Mr. Bush's re-election.

I can't take anymore the arguments with my countrymen every time I say I support Mr. Bush. I'm sick of the smug, condescending responses I get, as if it were impossible to consider that maybe, just maybe, Mr. Bush is right. France is paralyzed by what we call la pensée unique – this idea that there is only one way to think about issues. It's killing all forms of discussion.

A huge majority of the French people doesn't want to know what Mr. Bush's program really is about. They just want to insult him by calling him a cowboy. But a cowboy is what I want to be! (Well, maybe only on weekends.) That's why, to be perfectly honest, I want to settle down in Texas.

Yes, Texas, which strikes the cool and the connected in Paris and New York as horribly unfashionable. Hey, sounds good to me! I want my kids to learn how to ride a horse instead of a moped. I want a simpler life, closer to nature and closer to my neighbors. The people whose attitude exhausts me look down their noses at Texas – which is an argument this Lone Star wannabe finds persuasive.

In the end, I want to move to Red America because I know I'll belong. I don't know what happened to the French joie de vivre, and I'm tired of looking for it. But I cast my gaze across the Atlantic, and the values I see in the American character are a beacon calling me ... home.

So, if I'm lucky enough to win a visa in the lottery, I have everything planned. I won't fly to America – too fast, too modern. I'll take the boat, like my great-great uncles did at the beginning of the 20th century. I want to see the Statue of Liberty from the deck, my beautiful French cousin welcoming me at the threshold of my new life. Then, I'll drive all the way from New York City to Texas, to slowly shake off the alien in me.

Yes, this is only a dream, but it's my American dream, and I hope it comes true. To Americans dreaming about leaving your country, good luck and bon voyage. Don't forget to leave the light on. I wasn't born in Texas, but I'm getting there as fast as I can.

Fred Gion, a documentary filmmaker, last wrote for The Dallas Morning News about his gratitude to America for liberating France from the Nazis. His e-mail address is

Like I said, I didn't know there were conservatives in France. I like this guy. I'm not sure how I feel about him moving to Texas, though. I mean, with his love of America, he should be allowed to pursue the American dream. But, on the other hand, we need all the help we can get over there. He could be a vocal advocate for all things American in the liberal wasteland of Europe.

Oh, wait. I forgot. They won't listen, anyway. OK. Works for me.Let's welcome him to the States as soon as possible. Maybe we could start an exchange program- we'll give the EU one American liberal for every conservative they send us. I think everyone would be happier that way. We'd have all the liberals all in one place (ie- NOT HERE) and the Euro-conservatives would finally be home- the home of their heart.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

It's That Time of Year!

It's National Ammo Week! Time to go buy some ammo (at LEAST 100 rounds!)

Here is a brief explanation of Ammo Day from the website:
November 19 is National Ammo Day. It is a nationwide BUYcott of ammunition. You buy ammunition. 100 Rounds a person.

The goals of Ammo Day:

The goal of National Ammo Day is to empty the ammunition from the shelves of your local gun store, sporting goods, or hardware store and put that ammunition in the hands of law-abiding citizens. Make your support of the Second Amendment known--by voting with your dollars!

There are an estimated 75 MILLION gun owners in the United States of America. If each gun owner or Second Amendment supporter buys 100 rounds of ammunition, that's 7.5 BILLION rounds in the hands of law-abiding citizens!

Let the politicians, the gun-grabbers, and the international community know that America is proud of its Right to Bear Arms and we will not be disarmed.

The gun/ammunition manufacturers have been taking the brunt of all the frivolous lawsuits brought by the gun-grabbers. These gun-grabbers are trying to put these folks out of business. Well, not if we can help it! And we CAN help it by buying ammunition on November 19!

If you don't own a gun (and WHY NOT???), buy some ammo for a friend! Makes great Christmas presents!!!

Saturday, November 13, 2004

The Kid Has a Point

Evidently, the fine young women who live in the dorms at the University of New Hampshire are sorely missing something - a sense of humor!

Sophomore Timothy Garneau was getting tired of the crowded elevators in the UNH dorm, so he posted a quick flyer. Based on an ad he saw at the school's gym stressing the importance of diet and exercise in fighting the "Freshman 15", he wrote the following:
"9 out of 10 freshman girls gain 10 – 15 pounds. But there is something you can do about it. If u live below the 6th floor takes the stairs….Not only will u feel better about yourself but you will also be saving us time and wont [sic] be sore on the eyes."
Tacky? Well... yeah. Funny? Oh, yeah! More importantly, the guy is right. But... But... it hurt some chick's feelings (what do you want to bet that the offended student can't shop at 5-7-9 ?) So, in the spirit of "no good deed goes unpunished," he was given the following punishment:
He was sentenced to expulsion from student housing, given extended disciplinary probation, required to meet with a psychological counselor to discuss his "decisions, actions, and reflections" and made to write a 3000-word reflection paper about the counseling session.
All because he offended a couple of girls. Well, FIRE (the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) came riding to the rescue. They protested to UNH. UNH then changed "expulsion from student housing" to "changing dorms), and attend one "ethics" session and extended probation.

He didn't harass anyone. If anything, HIS 1st Ammendment rights are being violated. God forbid you offend anyone by pointing out that a trip or two up and down the stairs wouldn't be such a bad thing.

Read the whole article. It's pathetic when you can't make a harmless joke because it might upset someone. I'm glad everything is working out for Tim... just bugs me that it ever happened. Knee-jerk responses do no one any good. You turn everyone into a potential victim. Lovely.

aaaahhhh.... Peace and Quiet

... otherwise known as The Calm Before the Holiday Storm.

Halloween is over... the Election is over... my birthday has passed (both of them)... Football season (for my kids) is over (except for the banquet)...Thanksgiving is 2 weeks away... Christmas is exactly 6 weeks away... aaahhhh... it's now that wonderful, restful, quiet time of year. Let us all sit back, sip a cup of warm cider, and relax a moment.... I said "RELAX!" dangit! That's better...

"What's up?" you ask. Not one darn thing. And that's the great thing. All the professional political pundits, for the most part, are taking well-deserved vacations after that roller-coaster ride of a campaign season. FNC has had nothing much to talk about the last couple of days except the Scott Peterson trial and Arafat's death. Since the football season is over, I've no more complaining about football parents (ok... not entirely true... it's not MY fault that the banquet isn't until after Thanksgiving- whining to me will NOT help things. There. I feel better now.)

We have entered that wonderful void that naturally occurs between Halloween and Thanksgiving. If you're a traditionalist (like me), you can start thinking about Christmas around now, but no major purchases/organization/decorations until the day after Thanksgiving. (yes, R, I know you're probably finished with your Christmas shopping. I haven't even started THINKING about it.) Now is the time for puttering around the house- getting out the winter clothes (ok, Fall clothes- we don't need "winter" clothes here much), cleaning out closets and getting bags and boxes ready to take to Goodwill (I think this is a great time to do it- we have some good stuff that we just don't need anymore- let it bless someone else!), getting the calendar worked out for the next 6 weeks (things get crazy- you know they do), and trying to get a little organized around the house before insanity sets in (I love Flylady, just not the e-mails- that's too much, even for me! I try to follow the "Daily Missions", but I'm not always successful. My goal is to them all for the next 5 weeks.). Thanksgiving week, I'll get out all the Christmas decorations and see what I've got and what I need (I feel a "Honey Do" list coming on!!!)

What's my deal? I'm cruising through the blogs this morning, and I realized that the weight has been lifted, the tension has subsided, the clouds have parted. So many people in the blogosphere were so stressed out over the election, and now it's over. Yes, the LLL will still annoy us, the MSM will still get it wrong, and the pajamahadeen will ride to the rescue time and time again. But the "crisis" ramp-up for Nov. 2nd is over... it's time to chill for a bit.

Am I quitting? In a word, NO!!!!!! I'm still cruising the news sites and the blogs. Just don't be surprised if there isn't anything overly exciting in the news for the next few weeks. But this will be fun. I'll hit the serious stuff when it happens. And I'll talk about the fun stuff, too. (and, R, the company Christmas party will talked about, so God help us all if there's kareoke this year! I may have to hurt someone.)

So, consider this your warning. I am a Holiday Nut™ , so, amid any potential political banter, you will find commentary on this Scrooge or that Scrooge, photos of family and friends, and maybe even a recipe or two.

Which bring me one final point: if you want a Christmas card from Castle Whatever™, e-mail me your name and address. (Don't put it in the comments- that would be silly.) I will send out cards to everyone who gives me an address. Really. I promise. Deadline is... the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

So , Happy Respite! Here's a hint of things to come:

Friday, November 12, 2004

I don't usually do this, but...

In case you haven't heard, Target stores have decided to ban the Salvation Army from having their kettles in front of Target stores this holiday season. (I checked it on Snopes- it's true.) In the past, they've had a "no-solicitation" policy, but they have always made an exception for the SA. Not this year. It's "too difficult" to give them an exception.

Whatever. Even though it will be "difficult" for me, I will now boycott Target. And I'm not happy about it- I like that store. But, I will boycott them, and I will contact the company and let them know why my family is boycotting them. This is just ridiculous.

UPDATE: I just talked to a customer rep, who took my complaint. He gave the company line (" Many retailers have no-solicitation policies, and we told the SA back in January that they wouldn't be allowed to set up in front of our stores from now on" and "We give $X millions a week" - can't remember the exact #- " to non-profit organizations." etc). So what if other retailers have "no-solicitation" policies!! They all waive that for the Salvation Army. And it doesn't really matter what you give to other NPOs- the SA gets 70% of its funds from the kettle drive. Because of your selfish incompetence, they will be short on funds this year.

Way to go, jerks!

UPDATE 2: Robert has a list of other people who are... unhappy... with Target's decision.

Ted Rall is a ... an... well, any of a number of dirty words

Ya know, I'm really getting sick and tired of sh*t like this! During the presidential campaign, someone in Tennesee printed flyers saying ""Voting for Bush is like running in the Special Olympics... Even if you win, you're still retarded." Now, Ted Rall is getting into it. I know he's always been a jerk, but stuff like this is just... beyond. ( hat tip to Wizbang)

You want to do what?

Mullah Mohammad Omar. Anyone remember that name? Anyone? Yes, you in the back... You're right- Mullah Omar is the freaky little man who gave OBL sanctuary in Taliban controlled Afghanistan. And, yes, he ran away and hid, just like OBL. Very good.

Why do I bring him up? Well... he sent a message to a Pakistani-based Afghan news agency (the Afghan Islamic Press). And what did the Mad Mullah have to say? You'd better be sitting down for this. And put down the drink- it's for the best.

"There is much more brotherhood, obedience and steadfastness in the Taliban's Islamic movement than before," he said. "America and its puppets should know that we are determined to free and regain the sovereignty of our country."
Yup. You read correctly. He thinks they're going to regain control of Afghanistan. But, wait! There's more!
" trying to impose its puppet administration," the message said. "Moral decadence, desecration of Islamic values and crime are increasing in Afghanistan. Every ploy is being used to mislead women."
Misleading women? Was that when we allowed the little girls to go to school? Or was that when women received the right to vote (and run for office?) And that moral Decadence? Oh... I know... he must be talking about that soccer stadium that is now used for (gasp!) soccer, and not for executions. Or maybe all that music that can now be played without fear. Desecration of Islamic values? He's right- no more historically significant "idols" are being destroyed.

While I would never attempt to put words into anyone's mouth, I'd like to think that there are a WHOLE bunch of people (you know who I mean- the Coallition soldiers on the ground and in the air in Afghanistan, the tribal leaders who fought along side our special forces, and every Afghani who has been freed from the Taliban's cruel reign) who have just one thing to say to the Mad Mullah- "Bring it on, Fat Boy!"

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?