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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Yeah, yeah, I'm still here!!!

Did ya miss me?

We drove from TX to the St. Louis area on Thursday and Friday (we spent the night at a sub-par Holiday Inn Express in Muscogee, OK... I definitely do NOT recommend it). Got into my parents' house at 4pm, and I was at my sister's house by 5pm. Picked up her and two of her friends, and we were off to St. Louis.

Why? you ask. Terri Clark, Brad Pasley, and Reba McIntyre were in concert at the Riverport amphitheater.

We had lawn tickets. The temperature was in the high 50s, and it was raining off and on. That will be important to this story. So, we find our little piece of real estate, and the concert begins. Terri was great (as always). Brad was good (and funny), and Reba was just plain amazing. Unfortunately, that's not the rest of the story.

During Brad's set, one of Steph's friends and I had to make a trip to the Little Concert Goers Room. When we got back, my sister and her other friend tell us that there was a group behind us who were yelling for them to sit down. Let us review for a moment:

So, basically, there was no way in Hades that they were going to sit down. Things got a little bit heated, and I was afraid at least one of us would walk out with a black eye. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed, and no fists were thrown. Did put a bit of a damper on the evening. But we still had a good time.

Saturday morning, I headed north to Rockford to meet up with some other bloggers, and then to help HDD to get some of his stuff to his new home in TX. (I hope he doesn't need that alarm clock!) About the time I got back to my parents' house (Monday night), my back had decided that it had been kind enough to me for long enough. Thank heavens for modern pharmacuticals!

Today, we took my mom to the doctor today. Seems she took a wrong step and hurt her foot. They took an x-ray, and it looks like she may have broken her foot. Where's the sad smilie when I need one?

Tomorrow, the boys, my sister and I are going to Six Flags. Seems that T1 has an appointment with Mr. Freeze. I'll take a book or two along. It's not like I'll actually be able to ride anything. Oh, well...

More later. :-)

Thursday, May 26, 2005

My Babies!

Well, it's a done deal. The boys have graduated from 5th Grade. They're off to middle school. My babies are growing up!

One interesting thing. In each class, the students voted on the "Most ____" or the "Best ____". T1 and T2, who are in different classes, both got the same award. "Computer Genius." Go figure...

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Random Observations at Wal Mart

Nothing screams trailer trash than a skinny blonde wandering through Wal Mart, grumpy (but very cute) kiddo in the cart, wearing a neon pink strapless terry cloth mini-dress (you know the kind that are coming back in style for no apparent reason- with the 8-inch elastic weave at the top), plastic high heel flip flops (guess I can't call them "thongs" anymore), and her hair up in a sloppy pony tail so that everyone can see the birth control patch on the back of your shoulder.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Hey! Where'd She Go!

Posting will be light for a while. Not non-existent... just light. We have family arriving today, and more on Wednesday. The boys graduate from 5th grade on Thursday (don't ask me- I don't get it, either). Then the boys and I are headed up to the STL area to visit family for a week or two.

And, this evening, Hubby, R and her hubby, J, are going out to The Melting Pot. Can you say "yum"? I knew you could!

So... keep checking back. I'm contemplating a rant about the Screamer, so we'll see if that one pans out.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Blog Sabbath

Once again, it's a beautiful day in Austin. So, we're going to spend it in a movie theater. Makes sense to me. Then we'll work in the flower beds and straighten up the house. There's a big invasion coming our way this week.

Memo to Alamo Drafthouse: T1 came up with a brilliant idea- weekend brunch movies. You'd make a fortune. You know you would.

Go. Spend time with your family. Or your friends. Or both! The blogosphere will be here when you're finished.

Saturday, May 21, 2005


A few days ago, we broke down and bought a new gas grill. I christened it by grilling some chicken (which had been marinating in chipotle marinade for a long time). But... it's needed a true baptism... by smoke.

At the end of June, there will be a meeting of the minds bloggers in Brew Naunfels. I have offered to help with the preparation of munchies for said shindig. I kinda figured that it would be a good idea to actually practice before I subject those poor souls to my cooking grilling bbqing smoking/charring of animal. So... today was my first excursion into the world of "smoked" foods on the grill. (Yeah, yeah... I know... you can't truly smoke something on a gas grill. This was pretty darn close).

For this experiment, I grabbed a pack of beef ribs (hey! They're in my freezer... back off!) Last night, I (with some help from Hubby) brined them in a Jack Daniels™ brine. Today, they went into a preheated grill (225°, give or take a few degrees) set up for indirect heat (with a drip pan). Directly over the lit burner, I put a smoke box with soaked Jack Daniels™ oak chips (hmmm... am I detecting a theme here?) I checked the temp every 20 minutes or so, just to make sure it stayed between 200° and 250°). They were flipped over once an hour.

While they were getting all happy on the grill, I worked on the sauce. No, I'm not going to tell you what's in it... that's a secret (no, R, you and A may not give it away!). It's just a basic tomato-based barbecue sauce that you can only find in the St. Louis area (Dad keeps me supplied with 148 oz jugs of the stuff) combined with onion and garlic and mumblemumblemumble. I did put a shot or two of JD™ in there, just for consistency of flavor. You couldn't taste it. Not really.

At the 4-Hour mark, I basted the ribs with a dilluted sauce, then cranked up the heat for 10 minutes or so. That baked the sauce onto them and made a nice coating. Then I took them off the grill and mopped on some full strength sauce.

The boys and A (R's son) were my guinnea pigs tasters. T2 prefers Memphis style ribs, but he said these were pretty good (loved the sauce). T1 thought it was just a bit too spicy at the end, but, all in all, a good rib (must not have been too spicy- he finished his off with no problem). A said that he liked the way the taste was still there after you swallowed, and that if there was anything to change, he couldn't think of it. (And he liked that little spicy kick at the end).

My thoughts? Not bad at all for my first try. The sauce needs some minor tweeking, but nothing major (it was just a little too sweet for me, but... just barely). I'd like to try this recipe on St. Louis style pork ribs, just to see what the differences are. And I need to make more sauce. You can never have too much sauce (on the side).

ZiPpo, I hope to have this down by the time the fest comes around. I'm off to a good start!

So, My Lobster Impersonation Isn't Necessarily a Bad Thing™?

Back in the 70's and early 80's, everyone wanted a tan (and George Hamilton has the leather skin to prove it.) Then, in the 80's and 90's, we were told that SPF 783 was necessary anytime you even looked out the window at the sunshine because one moment in the sun's rays will give you a deadly melanoma. But... what if the healthy reality is somewhere in between?
Scientists are excited about a vitamin again. But unlike fads that sizzled and fizzled, the evidence this time is strong and keeps growing. If it bears out, it will challenge one of medicine's most fundamental beliefs: that people need to coat themselves with sunscreen whenever they're in the sun. Doing that may actually contribute to far more cancer deaths than it prevents, some researchers think.

The vitamin is D, nicknamed the "sunshine vitamin" because the skin makes it from ultraviolet rays. Sunscreen blocks its production, but dermatologists and health agencies have long preached that such lotions are needed to prevent skin cancer. Now some scientists are questioning that advice. The reason is that vitamin D increasingly seems important for preventing and even treating many types of cancer.
Oh, I'm sure this is going to go over big with dermatologists around the country. But... what are these researchers really talking about?
So the thinking is this: Even if too much sun leads to skin cancer, which is rarely deadly, too little sun may be worse.

No one is suggesting that people fry on a beach. But many scientists believe that "safe sun" - 15 minutes or so a few times a week without sunscreen - is not only possible but helpful to health.
So... like I said... dermatologists (who have no industrial ties, right?) will embrace this common sense approach... right?
The head of Holick's department, Dr. Barbara Gilchrest, called his book an embarrassment and stripped him of his dermatology professorship, although he kept his other posts.

She also faulted his industry ties. Holick said the school has received $150,000 in grants from the Indoor Tanning Association for his research, far less than the consulting deals and grants that other scientists routinely take from drug companies.

In fact, industry has spent money attacking him. One such statement from the Sun Safety Alliance, funded in part by Coppertone and drug store chains, declared that "sunning to prevent vitamin D deficiency is like smoking to combat anxiety."

Earlier this month, the dermatology academy launched a "Don't Seek the Sun" campaign calling any advice to get sun "irresponsible." It quoted Dr. Vincent DeLeo, a Columbia University dermatologist, as saying: "Under no circumstances should anyone be misled into thinking that natural sunlight or tanning beds are better sources of vitamin D than foods or nutritional supplements."
Oh, yeah. No conflict of interest on either side there. None at all.

Let's look at this logically, for just a moment. Human beings survived for millennia in a mostly agrarian society before the invention of sun screen. So... there must be something in our anatomy that protects us (and there's also a reason why people in climates closer to the equator have darker skin- more protection). But... that's not to say that it's healthy to coat yourself with Crisco™ and intentionally cook yourself for the sake of beauty.

We need a certain amount of sunlight, not just because of Vitamin D. If they don't get enough sunlight (ie during the winter), some people suffer from S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder- winter-time depression). Even during rainy weather, some people become depressed. It's just the way we were made.

No, I'm not saying that I'm going to go out sans sunscreen. My kids will still be coated with SPF 45 if they're going to be out more than a 1/2 hour. But, I don't think I'm going to hide inside on sunny days... I might spend most of the time in the shade, but... me thinks I might try for a bit of healthy glow this summer. It's the healthy thing to do, right?

Armed Forces Day

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How Bizarre

Watching Fox News... Orlando Salinas just said that FNC no longer has permission to air the pic of Saddam in his skivvies. But FNC is owned by Rupert Murdock- the same guy who owns The Sun and the New York Post- the newspaper who published the photo to begin with.

Why in the world would they do that? Like I said... bizarre...

A Funny for Saturday Morning...

(This is long, but worth it) Here's a little "back story." When I was in high school, I was on the Speech Team, and I competed in Duet Acting. One year, my team mate and I did Abbott and Costello's "Who's On First?" Although our scores... well, stank to high heaven, we had a lot of fun. And, now, mumble years later, there's a soft spot in my heart for that particular routine (yeah, that the original is about baseball doesn't hurt, either.) ( found via StrangeCosmos):


ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?

COSTELLO: Thanks. I'm setting up an office in my den and I'm thinking
about buying a computer.


COSTELLO: No, the name's Lou.

ABBOTT: Your computer?

COSTELLO: I don't own a computer. I want to buy one.


COSTELLO: I told you, my name's Lou.

ABBOTT: What about Windows?

COSTELLO: Why? Will it get stuffy in here?

ABBOTT: Do you want a computer with Windows?

COSTELLO: I don't know. What will I see when I look at the windows?

ABBOTT: Wallpaper.

COSTELLO: Never mind the windows. I need a computer and software.

ABBOTT: Software for Windows?

COSTELLO: No. On the computer! I need something I can use to write
proposals, track expenses and run my business. What do you have?

ABBOTT: Office.

COSTELLO: Yeah, for my office. Can you recommend anything?

ABBOTT: I just did.

COSTELLO: You just did what?

ABBOTT: Recommend something.

COSTELLO: You recommended something?


COSTELLO: For my office?


COSTELLO: OK, what did you recommend for my office?

ABBOTT: Office.

COSTELLO: Yes, for my office!

ABBOTT: I recommend Office with Windows.

COSTELLO: I already have an office with windows! OK, let's just say
I'm sitting at my computer and I want to type a proposal. What do I need?


COSTELLO: What word?

ABBOTT: Word in Office.

COSTELLO: The only word in office is office.

ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.

COSTELLO: Which word in office for windows?

ABBOTT: The Word you get when you click the blue "W".

COSTELLO: I'm going to click your blue "w" if you don't start with
some straight answers. OK, forget that. Can I watch movies on the Internet?

ABBOTT: Yes, you want Real One.

COSTELLO: Maybe a real one, maybe a cartoon. What I watch is none of
your business. Just tell me what I need!

ABBOTT: Real One.

COSTELLO: If it's a long movie, I also want to watch reels 2, 3 and 4.
Can I watch them?

ABBOTT: Of course.

COSTELLO: Great! With what?

ABBOTT: Real One.

COSTELLO: OK, I'm at my computer and I want to watch a movie. What do I do?

ABBOTT: You click the blue "1".

COSTELLO: I click the blue one what?

ABBOTT: The blue "1".

COSTELLO: Is that different from the blue w?

ABBOTT: The blue "1" is Real One and the blue "W" is Word.

COSTELLO: What word?

ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.

COSTELLO: But there are three words in "office for windows"!

ABBOTT: No, just one. But it's the most popular Word in the world.


ABBOTT: Yes, but to be fair, there aren't many other Words left.It
pretty much wiped out all the other Words out there.

COSTELLO: And that word is real one?

ABBOTT: Real One has nothing to do with Word. Real One isn't even part
of Office.

COSTELLO: STOP! Don't start that again. What about financial
bookkeeping? You have anything I can track my money with?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: That's right. What do you have?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: I need money to track my money?

ABBOTT: It comes bundled with your computer.

COSTELLO: What's bundled with my computer?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: Money comes with my computer?

ABBOTT: Yes. No extra charge.

COSTELLO: I get a bundle of money with my computer? How much?

ABBOTT: One copy.

COSTELLO: Isn't it illegal to copy money?

ABBOTT: Microsoft gave us a license to copy Money.

COSTELLO: They can give you a license to copy money?


(A few days later...)

ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?

COSTELLO: How do I turn my computer off?

ABBOTT: Click on "START".

Friday, May 20, 2005

Mindless Quiz Time

Here are a few new quizes... Let's start with another Star Wars quiz:

Your Star Wars Name and Title

Your Star Wars Name: Betwo Kebel

Your Star Wars Title: Nifche of Erdna

Your Star Wars Name and Title

I would like to call BS on the next quiz, considering I was born and raised in the Midwest...

Your Linguistic Profile:

70% General American English

10% Dixie

10% Upper Midwestern

10% Yankee

0% Midwestern

What Kind of American English Do You Speak?

For this last one, I'll let y'all be the judge (well, those who know me, that is). I'm not sure I agree with the sociability one, but...

Your Extroversion Profile:

Assertiveness: High
Cheerfulness: High
Friendliness: High
Sociability: Medium
Activity Level: Low
Excitement Seeking: Low

How Extroverted Are You?

But Maybe It Should Be

Wandering around Redstate, I found a link to this little tidbit:
The national debate about President Bush's judicial nominations spilled into Louisiana on Thursday when one of the state's U.S. senators boldly challenged another on the Senate floor.

In an unusual move, freshman U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., used his floor speech to call on senior colleague Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., to support Bush nominations and end filibusters blocking seven judges.

Anytime someone challenges Sen. Landrieu (who was called a moderate by someone on FoxNews today, which I found... hilarious), it's a good thing. And... what he called her on? Priceless...
Vitter criticized Landrieu for supporting the filibuster of judicial nominee Miguel Estrada after expressing support of him during her re-election campaign. Vitter urged Landrieu to buck Democratic party leaders, calling the filibusters "obstructionism."
So... she was all for Miguel Estrada when she needed votes, but now that she's been elected, she doesn't need to play pretend anymore. Got it.

I bet you're wondering what the problem is, right? Well... evidently calling a Senator by name and challenging or criticizing them on the Senate floor is a Miss Manner's No-No.
The predecessors of Vitter and Landrieu both watched the proceedings and said Vitter's remarks were in bad form.... Former U.S. Sen. John Breaux, D-La., was watching the proceedings and said he was shocked by the move.

"I have never seen anything like that in my 32 years of Congress," Breaux said. "I think it was unprecedented and in bad taste."...

Former U.S. Sen. J. Bennett Johnston, D-La., served in the Senate for 25 years ending in 1997. He also watched the speech.

"That is just not done," Johnston said....

When told about the speech, Landrieu laughed the matter off.

"Of course, Sen. Vitter is new to the Senate, and he's learning the rules," Landrieu said.

In her letter to him she pointed out that when she was a junior senator, she relied on the examples set by senior and established colleagues.

I don't get it. Why was that in bad taste? Why is it "just not done"? Is there something wrong with holding someone accountable for the promises made? What wrong with demanding a certain level of honesty and integrity?

Sen. Landrieu said that Sen. Vitter is "learning the rules." G-d, I hope not. We need more elected officials like him, not another mind-numbed robot just "following the rules."

Thursday, May 19, 2005

What Happened to Global Warming?

The environmental Chicken Littles have been yelling their own version of "the sky is falling" ("the temp is rising!!!") for quite a while now. Wonder how they'll explain this:
Increased snowfall over a large area of Antarctica is thickening the ice sheet and slowing the rise in sea level caused by melting ice.

A satellite survey shows that between 1992 and 2003, the East Antarctic ice sheet gained about 45 billion tonnes of ice - enough to reduce the oceans' rise by 0.12 millimetres per year. The ice sheets that cover Antarctica's bedrock are several kilometres thick in places, and contain about 90% of the world's ice.
So... global warming has caused... snow?
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has reported that sea level is currently rising at about 1.8 millimetres per year, largely through melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets as a result of global warming. But the panel also expected that climate change would trigger an increase in snowfall over the Antarctic continent, as increased evaporation from the oceans puts more moisture into the air.
Do these people have any idea what they're talking about? If it's warm enough to melt ice, how can it snow? Wouldn't the increased moisture in the air cause rain instead?

I Really Didn't Need To See That

Drudge has a shot of The Sun (a UK paper) front page... which has a huge photo of Saddam Hussein in his underwear...

Why, oh, why is this news? And why did Drudge have to put that on his page?

I'm going to have nightmares now... Thanks, Matt...

UPDATE: Here's the link to the Sun article... if you want it...

Way Down in Kosovo...

Ummm... obviously these Norwegian soldiers had a little too much time on their hands... (language alert in effect) (h/t to Blackfive)

Just a Little Hypocritical...

A pregnant Senior at a Catholic high school was told she could not participate in the graduation ceremony.
A pregnant student who was banned from graduation at her Roman Catholic high school announced her own name and walked across the stage anyway at the close of the program....

The school's guidance counselor delivered (Alysha) Cosby's degree to her house earlier Tuesday, but she still wanted to participate.

"I worked hard throughout high school and I wanted to walk with my class," she said.

Cosby was told in March that she could no longer attend school because of safety concerns, and her name was not listed in the graduation program.

Safety concerns? Let's try a little honesty. It's probably against school rules for a girl to attend classes once her pregnancy is... apparent.

When I was in high school, one of my best friends got pregnant. Her parents informed the Catholic school that we attended, and they were told that she could go to classes until it became obvious that she was pregnant. Then, with the cooperation of the public high school, she could be tutored at home until after the baby was born. Then she could return to the school. Evidently, they thought that none of the students would find out if she wasn't in the school. (Yeah, well... that might have been the case... except that another friend and I passed out blue bubblegum cigars and blue suckers the day after Nick was born... ) Our senior year, the same process was repeated by two other students at the school. At no time was their participation in the graduation ceremony questioned.

So... while I think the "no graduation ceremony" ruling was a bit harsh, it makes sense. Miss Cosby was attending a private religious school. Private religious schools can make whatever rules they want to (within the law). If they want to believe that students won't figure out that the reason Alysha suddenly wasn't in English Lit was because of a baby, then they can live in their own little delusional world.

That's not what got me irked... this is what got me irked.

The father of Cosby's child, also a senior at the school, was allowed to participate in graduation.
OK... let's think about this for just a minute. The reason that Alysha wasn't in school after March and couldn't participate in the graduation is because (yeah, I'm presuming, but... it's a Catholic school... I think I can figure this one out... ) her pregnancy is a visible reminder that, well... she was sinning. Well, that particular sin takes two. And, we can also presume that everyone in the school, by now, knows who Alysha's boyfriend is. Therefore, we also know that he was breaking the 7th Commandment. But, because he doesn't carry with him a visible sign of his sin, he gets a free pass. Did I get that right?

What is that teaching the guys at that school? Granted, I have no idea what this young couple's future plans include... marriage as soon as possible might not be a bad idea. But, the school, by punishing her and not him, they're telling guys that there's no negative consequences. It's no big deal. It's the girl's burden to bear, not theirs.

Yeah... I'm probably blowing this out of proportion. But, it just seems to me that it's a bit hypocritical that a girl can't participate in a graduation ceremony because she's pregnant, but the guy that "got her that way" can participate as if there's nothing wrong.

Whatever Happened to Investigative Journalism?

Everyone's all over the Newsweek fiasco. The same way they were all over CBS's memo debacle. "Journalists" who chose political ideology over cold hard fact are in the news as much as the WoT or the economy. Maybe even more.

Do they learn from their mistakes? Do they choose to take the more difficult path and fact-check before they publish? Well... obviously not...
"There's one rumor spreading today in local newspapers," (NBC's Middle East correspondent) Engel said. "It's been on the local television and it was also broadcast on the Al-Jazeera television network. It's that U.S. Marines, while raiding a mosque in Ramadi, kicked a Quran and then took it and spray painted in black paint a cross right on top of the Quran."

Engel said another rumor "came out a couple of weeks ago [and] was in a local newspaper.

"It said that during a search of a woman's bag, U.S. soldiers with a team of dogs were sniffing through her bag. She had a Quran in her bag. The dog pulled the Muslim holy book out of the bag with its mouth and the soldiers started laughing."

The NBC newsman then sourced an allegation by a female terrorist suspect who had been detained at Abu Ghraib, who aired her claim in an Iraqi newspaper.

"[She said] she was raped every night by six American soldiers," Engel reported, before adding that U.S. officials deny the claim.
So... instead of hunting these women down and verifying their stories, they just report rumor and inuendo. And they trust Al J as a source? The same "news" organization that reported every word that Baghdad Bob said as gospel truth... who run stories about Mengele-like experiments being performed on Muslim children by evil Zionists...

Back in the day, reporters researched. They hunted down stories. They documented their facts. They made sure they had the story right. Not anymore... People are losing faith in the media because of the cavalier attitude they've assumed. It's hard to believe in someone whose mottot is "say whatever you want, because you can always say you're sorry".

Unfortunately, saying "I'm sorry" isn't enough. Not for the people who are hurt... or worse, killed, because of the mistakes (or flat-out lies) you tell. "I'm sorry" can never be enough for them.

Government Waste at its Finest

There are plenty of examples of how the US government wastes the taxpayers' money. But, I'm pretty sure this one is at the top of the Stupidity Scale™:
Tom Wilson is faced with a problem many city administrators would envy: How to spend $1.5 million on a bus stop. Wilson, Anchorage's director of public transportation, has all that money for a new and improved bus stop outside the Anchorage Museum of History and Art thanks to Republican Sen. Ted Stevens - fondly referred to by Alaskans as "Uncle Ted" for his prodigious ability to secure federal dollars for his home state.
And just how would one spend $1.5 million on a bus stop?
The bus stop there now is a simple steel-and-glass, three-sided enclosure. Wilson wants better lighting and seating. He also likes the idea of heated sidewalks that would remain free of snow and ice. And he thinks electronic signs would be nice.

"It is going to be a showpiece stop," Wilson said.

He acknowledges the money has put him in an awkward position.

"We have a senator that gave us that money and I certainly won't want to appear ungrateful," he said. At the same time, he does not want the public to think the city is wasting the money. So "if it only takes us $500,000 to do it, that's what we will spend."

That is still five to 50 times the typical cost of bus stop improvements in Anchorage.
And, I'm sure bus stops in Alaska need to be a little more... substantial than they do in other states... I mean, patrons could freeze to death waiting for the bus. But, still... even $500,000 seems a bit steep for a bus stop.

Uncle Ted, as well as the museum director, say that this is more than just a bus stop. I
f done right, the expanded museum and improved bus stop could anchor a new eastern edge to the downtown area, drawing not only more tourists to the museum but shoppers from a nearby mall and workers from the federal building, said museum director Pat Wolf.
Hmmm... they want a bus stop to be an anchor for an area? That's just... sad...

But, what's really scary is that Sen. Stevens doesn't think this is pork. No, really.
"Sen. Stevens does not believe the money that he is able to work diligently to secure at the federal level is pork," (Stevens' spokesperson) said. "He considers it infrastructure development for a very young state. People seem to forget how young Alaska really is."
No, Senators seem to forget whose money they're spending. We probably need to remind them.

Battlefield Faith

There's an old saying. "There are no atheists in foxholes." Makes sense to me.

I just watched an interview with Stephen Mansfield about his new book, The Faith of the American Soldier. (Time to add another book to my "to read" list.) He went to Iraq and talked to the soldiers. And he had some interesting things to say.

80-90% of US soldiers consider themselves Christian. Because of the changes in some military regulations, chaplains are no longer on the battlefield many times. This has led to young soldiers making it up as they go along, having Bible studies in their tents and creating their own faith traditions.

And, for the soldiers, and I believe for our country, this is a good thing.

(I'll write a "review" of the book once I read it.)

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

And So It Begins...

If anyone wants to be bored to tears, FoxNews is covering the Senate debate on Judicial nominees live.

I've been watching it for... 20 minutes now. I'm going to turn it off now before I throw something through the tv. Harry Reid is driving my blood pressure through the roof.

It's a Girl!

Andy (the Kilted Liberal- reader, commenter, Blogfest attendee and occasional sparring partner) and his wife, Laura, welcomed a beautiful, healthy daughter, Anwen Ruth, to the world last night.

Congrats! Image hosted by

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Star Wars Goodies

h/t to DeathKnyte

Oh, Great! Give 'Em an Excuse!

Trying to get the boys to do chores on a regular basis is... difficult. I'm guessing there are a lot of parents who are reading this, thinking, 'well, duh... '

Well, now researchers have given slug-like teens (and teens-to-be) the excuse reason for their absentmindedness.
Blame it on "cognitive limitations." Their brains can't multitask as well as those of the taskmasters.

Trust, however, that they'll grow out of it. The part of the brain responsible for multitasking continues to develop until late adolescence, with cells making connections even after some children are old enough to drive, according to a new study in the May/June issue of the journal Child Development.

So, I guess the good news is that they will some day grow out of it. The bad news (for the boys) is that they get endure a few more years of my lists. Ah, yes... my glorious lists... bwahahahahahaha.

It's a Conspiracy, I Tell You!!!

Not so long ago, the boys were the proud owners of a PS2, an XBox, and a GameCube. (And, they paid for one of them on their own- can't remember which one). Needless to say, they're into games. They also play PC games.

When we got the PS2 (or was it the XBox?), the guy assured us that there wouldn't be any new platforms available for a few years. This would be it. Well... guess what... a few years have obviously gone by, because Sony and Microsoft have announced new platforms.
Bill Gates has treated gaming fans around the world to a sneak preview of the slimmed down next generation version of the Xbox, dubbed the ‘360’ and designed to take gaming to the next level.

The Microsoft boss believes the sleeker design combined with a 20GB hard drive has the power to revolutionise home entertainment, while seeing off the competitive threat posed by Sony and Nintendo.
Sony has unveiled its new PlayStation 3 console which is due to go on sale next spring.

The console is powered by a new processor, dubbed Cell, 35 times faster than the chip inside the PS2.

It is similar in size to the PS2 but has a more rounded look. It will be available in black, silver and white.

In a dig at Microsoft, Sony said the processor was twice as fast as the one in the new Xbox 360.

Am I just being paranoid, or does this seem to anyone else to be a coordinated effort by Big Business™ to separate parents from their money? Because, you can't just buy the new systems... oh, no! You also have to buy the games... and there's always something else...

Yup... I'm tellin' ya... it's a conspiracy!

Deflecting Blame...

George Galloway is testifying before a Senate committee concerning the Oil-for-Food scandal. You gotta love him. He's spent most of the time so far calling Operation Iraqi Freedom "a disaster" and "I have no idea who these people are." Of course he's going to deny knowing these people. Then there's all the "neo-con" and "Zionist" references.

At least he has a cool accent.

UPDATE: Oh, yeah... let's bring in Hallibutron. And blame the US government for everything. "That's the real scandal." Whatever...

Some Good Advice

Via Strange Cosmos, we have "Combat For Dummies":
Advice and instructions taken from actual military sources. Some of these guys must have had a sense of humor

"Aim towards the enemy."
--Instruction printed on U.S. Rocket Launcher

"When the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is not our friend."
--U.S. Marine Corps

"Cluster bombing from B-52s is very, very accurate. The bombs are guaranteed to always hit the ground."
--USAF Ammo Troop

"If the enemy is in range, so are you."
--Infantry Journal

"A slipping gear could let your m203 grenade launcher fire when you least expect it. That would make you quite unpopular in what's left of your unit."
--Army's magazine of prevention maintenance

"It is generally inadvisable to eject directly over the area you just bombed."
--U.S. Air Force manual

"Try to look unimportant; the enemy may be low on ammo."
--Infantry Journal

"Tracers work both ways."
--U.S. Army Ordnance

"Five-second fuses only last three seconds."
--Infantry Journal

"Bravery is being the only one who knows you're afraid."
--David Hackworth

"If your attack is going too well, you're walking into an ambush."
--Infantry Journal

"No combat-ready unit has ever passed inspection."
--Joe Gay

"Any ship can be a minesweeper....once."

"Never tell the platoon sergeant you have nothing to do."
--Unknown Marine Recruit

"Don't draw fire; it irritates the people around you."
--Infantry Journal

"If you see a bomb technician running, try to keep up with him."
--USAF Ammo Troop

Monday, May 16, 2005

A Bad Day at the Office

So... there's this pathologist, having a normal day at the hospital morgue. Well... at least it started out normal...
Hospital officials in Romania are investigating after a doctor was punched by a 'corpse' in the morgue...

The youngster, 16, had been taken to the morgue at Brasov County Hospital in Brasov, after collapsing and showing no signs of life. He was declared dead on arrival and his body moved to the morgue.

He said: "I woke up and had no idea where I was, I looked to the left and to the right and saw a dead woman on either side of me, and then I saw this man coming towards me in a white coat.

"I just panicked. I thought he was going to kill me."

The youngster, from Fagaras, is now being treated in the neurological ward to find out the cause of his collapse...

The doctor was allowed to take time off work after being treated for shock.
So... the doctor was treated for shock... after being punched by a guy he thought was dead. Ya think?

This Can't Be a Good Thing...

According to myth, storks deliver babies to expecting parents, right? So... what happens when the stork gets confused about their own offspring?
A pair of storks made a nest in the middle of a golf green in Germany and filled it with stolen golf balls.

The birds have gathered so many balls that they have built a second nest on the Krogaspe golf course....

Fiedler suggested that the storks may have lost their previous nest, maybe to another stork couple, and were now desperate to make up for the lost time.

Local golf instructor Chris Parker said: "They used to be content to fly over the course in the past, but now they have settled right in the middle of it."
So... does this mean that some couple will welcome the arrival of their bouncing baby 9-Iron?

A PSA for couples

There's a new study out from the University of Louisville which has shed some light on the decline of many a relationship.
LEAVING a wet towel on the bathroom floor may seem a minor issue but it could be a ticking timebomb when it comes to relationships, scientists have warned.

New research in the United States has identified a list of the most annoying habits that can cause rifts between couples.

Minor irritations in domestic life can mean that people become "allergic" to a partner’s foibles.
Before you give a big "duh," let's look at a list of those little things that can just rub your Sweetie the wrong way:
A NUMBER of dangerous niggles for relationships have been identified:

• Fabricating anecdotes in a desperate effort to liven up a dinner party.
• Using cringe-making terms of endearment such as ‘babykins’ in public.
• Displaying fear during horror films (if male) - this is a turn-off for women.
• Racking up excess luggage charges by going over the top with holiday packing.
• Making a partner spend far longer than they want to on shopping trips.
• Laughing at your own jokes, oblivious to the fact that no-one else is.
• Complaining about partner’s clothes.
• Changing preset controls on the car stereo.
• Tipping clutter from coffee table on to floor to make way for TV dinner.
• Failing to replace loo roll when it is finished.
• Leaving wet towels around.
• Scattering clothes about the bedroom.
• Reading e-mails while claiming to be conducting an important discussion about the mortgage or similar subject.
• Using a fork as a backscratcher.
• Nose-picking.
• Burping.
• Clipping toe-nails, even if newspaper is spread on floor to catch clippings.
• Wearing tatty clothing.
• Getting drunk despite lack of any obvious excuse.
• Failing to control flatulence.
• Being late.
• Asking for explanations of TV dramas, causing partner to miss plot twist.
• Obtaining reassurance about clothing, then changing it anyway.
• Making any attempt to complain about any of the above.
Yeah, yeah... I know. None of those things are divorcing offenses. However, if there are already problems, one or two of those items could turn into the straw that broke the relationship camel's back. Know what I mean?

Just one question... who in the world uses a fork as a backscratcher?

Some People Are Never Satisfied

Wesley Crusher Clark (US Army, Retired) is whining about the latest BRAC list.
Retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark said Saturday that the Pentagon's plan to close military bases around the country and reorganize troops will isolate the military from the American people and the rest of the world. Clark said the plan to pull U.S. forces back home from abroad and centralize bases takes jobs away from smaller towns.

"We're losing influence abroad when we bring those troops home, and we lose the interaction with America when we create these super bases," Clark said in a speech to the Arkansas Associated Press Managing Editors Association.
I know I'm just guessing here, but... what would you want to bet that if they hadn't called for all those closures and re-alignments, that Gen. Clark would be whining about how much money is being wasted on the military, and there need to be changes in the structure of the military? He's just one of those guys who really likes to complain... especially if he thinks it can make President Bush look bad.

A Woman's Right To Choose... Poorer Health?

Today, it just so happened that three different stories about abortion caught my attention. When you look at them all together, you get this sinking feeling in your gut.

First, a report from England points out that one in three abortions performed over there is carried out on a woman who has had a prior abortions. The vast majority of abortions are not performed because of the health of mother of baby is in question, but for convneience sake (to delay motherhood). One woman had six abortions in a twelve month period.

Then there is this study found that women who had had an abortion were 1.7 times more likely to have a severely premature (before 28 weeks gestation) delivery in the future. No, this information is not given to women contemplating an abortion (because, until this study, there was no scientific evidence, only annecdotal).

And, finally, the president of the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute has authored a paper, refuting claims that there is no increased instance of breast cancer due to abortion.
In particular, Brind cites a widely noticed paper published by Valerie Beral and four other Oxford University scientists in The Lancet in 2004 and statements of the National Cancer Institute in 2003.

The Beral study finding was unequivocal: "Pregnancies that end as a spontaneous or induced abortion do not increase a woman's risk of developing breast cancer." The NCI has stated on its website since 2003 "having an abortion or miscarriage does not increase a woman's subsequent risk of developing breast cancer."

"The trouble is, to accept this conclusion, one needs to dismiss almost half a century's worth of data which do show a significant link between abortion and an increased risk of breast cancer," writes Brind.
So... shall we recap? We have women having abortions purely for lifestyle reasons, abortions leading to premature birth and miscarriage, and scientists hiding the fact that there is a link between abortions and breast cancer. Did I miss anything?

I think everyone knows where I stand on the subject of abortion. I am Pro-Life. Life is a gift from God, not to be taken away for convenience's sake. But, now... it appears that I am also Anti-Abortion because of the mother's health. There are very rare cases when a doctor might recommend abortion in order to save the mother's life (very, very rare, and it's never a partial-birth abortion. Let's face one simple point- how would inducing labor and then killing the baby as it's being delivered save a woman's life?). These studies seem to indicate that there is more benefit to a woman's health to go ahead and deliver the baby (and, dare I say it? Put the baby up for adoption!) than there would be to have an abortion in almost every case.

Hmmm... wonder if NARAL and abortion mills clinics will provide this information to their clients? Didn't think so.

From the "This Is a Joke, Right?" Files...

... we have this from Japan.

When you think of neat toys for your kids, what do you think of? Nerf football, action figures, R/C car... stuff like that, right? How about this?

Image hosted by

That, my friends, is the Kaba Kick. Russian Roullette for kids.
The player points the gun at his or her own head and pulls the trigger. Instead of bullets, a pair of feet kick out from the barrel (which is shaped like a pink hippo). If the gun doesn’t fire, the player earns points.
Um... uh... wow. You know that's going to be on every kid's Christmas list this year. Next year? The Fisher Price My First Hari Kari Set!

If you'll excuse me, I think I'm going to go be sick now. And then I'll mourn for the fate of our civilization if this the best in childhood entertainment that we have to offer.

First Blooms

A month and a half (or so) ago, I told you about my roses- the first ones I've ever tried to grow. Well, the first buds on the Joseph's Coats have finally bloomed! (I was getting worried.) Here's the first bloom:

Image hosted by

and here is the first new blooms from the Piñata rose:

Image hosted by

Now if I could just get rid of the aphids, I'll be a happy gardener.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Blog Sabbath

Nothing says "family time" like a good spring cleaning of the boys' room. Right?

Spend some time with your family. Or your friends. Or a good book. You get the idea.

Me? Time to crack the whip... again...

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Does This Surprise Anyone?

If so... whose blog have you been reading all this time, anyway?

Your Political Profile

Overall: 95% Conservative, 5% Liberal

Social Issues: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal

Personal Responsibility: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

Fiscal Issues: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal

Ethics: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal

Defense and Crime: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal

How Liberal / Conservative Are You?

OK... I'll admit it... the 25% Liberal on Personal Responsibility? Really? I don't think so...

h/t to Spencer

Friday, May 13, 2005

Quiz Time

Let's get obscure, shall we?
Indus Script
Indus, (Pakistan 2500 B.C.E.)
You are INDUS. One of the most famous undeciphered
scripts, however, modern scholars have no text
any longer than 17 symbols. You might be
concealing a dark, mysterious heritage -- or
you could have been used to mark whose beer was

Which Indecipherable Script Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

(h/t to the Other Beth)

Random News from Home

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has been sold, and as part of its contract, it must remain liberal for at least five years.
When Lee Enterprises Inc. agreed to purchase Pulitzer Inc. for $1.46 billion, it also agreed that the flagship St. Louis Post-Dispatch will keep its longstanding liberal editorial slant for at least the next five years, according to the purchase agreement mailed to Pulitzer shareholders Friday.

"For a period of at least five years following the Effective Time, Parent (Lee Enterprises) will cause the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to maintain its current name and editorial page platform statement and to maintain its news and editorial headquarters in the City of St. Louis, Missouri," the agreement states.
And this is news... why? (Okay, maybe the fact that it was actually written into the purchase agreement is a little... novel...) It's the major newspaper in St. Louis. You know about St. Louis, right? Home of Dick Gephardt. Land where the dead vote early and vote often. A city when civil rights activists and union thugs rule. And the fact that the newspaper is going to stay liberal is news?

Dang. Must be a slow news day.

With Friends Like This...

Earlier today, I ranted a bit about the Border Patrol being told to "stand down" along the stretch of border in Arizona where the Minutemen had patroled during the month of April. Well... fasten your seatbelts... I'm about to go off again on the subject of illegal immigration...

This time, Vincente Fox (and the rest of Mexican government) is my target.
Mexico has reacted furiously to a bill signed into law by the US this week that would fund a border wall and prevent illegal Mexican migrants from obtaining US driving licences.
I'm sorry, but... what right does the Mexican government have to respond to any legislation that the United States government passes? But, wait... let me let them dig themselves a deeper hole before I completely lose it.
Santiago Creel, Mexico's interior secretary, said the “Real ID” law was “negative, inconvenient, and obstructionist”.
Negative? Not from a US security point of view? Inconvenient? Only to legal immigrants who have to jump through a hoop or two in order to get their driver's license. Obstructionist? Hmmm... the only thing it's obstructing is people who are in our country illegally from reaping the benefits of our great nation.
“Building walls doesn't help anyone build a good neighbourhood,” he said. “Taking away the possibility of obtaining driving licences for people who are working in legal jobs, who pay their taxes there, who send remittances home here, seems to us to be an extreme measure, particularly given the new understanding that we thought we had after the re-election of President Bush.”
No, it doesn't prevent legal immigrants from getting licenses... just the illegal ones. But he does point out their real problem with this legislation. Without a license to drive in the US, those illegal aliens might not be able to make enough money to "send remittances home" and prop up their failing economy. And that whole new understanding you thought you had? That was with W., not Congress. Sorry 'bout that, Sparky.

Then the article points out one way illegals are able to "legally" get licenses:
Since 2002, Mexico has adopted a popular policy of issuing undocumented labourers with consular identity cards, which are accepted as proof of identity by many US states for issuing driving licences, and for opening bank accounts. Under the new law, this would no longer be possible.
So... someone makes it across the border. They contact the Mexican consulate closest to them, they then issue consular ID, and they can get a license. How... sneaky. How... utterly and completely wrong.

I'm sorry. I'm my never-to-be-accused-of-being-modest opinion, by providing fraudulent credentials to Mexican nationals, those people should be picked up on suspicion of espionage, the consular offices closed, everyone deported, and war declared on Mexico (because of an invasion encouraged and some would say sanctioned by the Mexican government, up to the highest levels.) If North Korea was sneaking in extra people, providing fraudulent consular creds to them, and then they were sending resourses back to North Korea, wouldn't we do all of that to them? And why is Mexico any different? I would argue that what Mexico is doing is even worse, because they're supposed to be our friends.

With friends like that... eh... you know the saying...

Too Good To Be True

In the Jerusalem Post has an interesting quote from the Chief of General Staff for the IDF:
The IDF's chief of General Staff said in an interview published Wednesday that the location of al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden is known, and he is in hiding on the Afghanistan-Pakistan frontier.

"I don't think that they don't known where he is. There are operational difficulties in putting your hands on him, for all sorts of reasons. But it is not true that they don't know where he is located," Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya'alon told Maariv.

Ya'alon, a former head of IDF Intelligence, said, "Ultimately, in order to get your hands on him you will need what we perfected and that is what we call 'targeted assassination.'"

Well, now... that's kind of interesting, isn't it? We know where OBL is, and the only way to get him is by "targeted assassination"... I can buy that. (Although... aren't all assassinations targeted?) If we know where he is, we could take him out at any time with a Bunker Buster. But, that's very messy and trying to do a DNA test on the goo on cave walls is just... ineffective.

Is it bad of me to hope this general is right? And is it bad of me to hope that the CIA is all over this? (h/t to Laurence at the Dead Pool)

This is a Joke... Right?

The Minutemen spent the last month in Arizona, patroling the Mexican border, and the number of illegal aliens who tried to cross over illegally into our country went down sharply. Well, April is over, the Minutemen are gone (to plan other patrols on both borders), and... well... just read this:
U.S. Border Patrol agents have been ordered not to arrest illegal aliens along the section of the Arizona border where protesters patrolled last month because an increase in apprehensions there would prove the effectiveness of Minuteman volunteers, The Washington Times has learned.

More than a dozen agents, all of whom asked not to be identified for fear of retribution, said orders relayed by Border Patrol supervisors at the Naco, Ariz., station made it clear that arrests were "not to go up" along the 23-mile section of border that the volunteers monitored to protest illegal immigration.
Of course, the head of the border patrol says that this is just plain wrong.
Border Patrol Chief David V. Aguilar at the agency's Washington headquarters called the accusations "outright wrong," saying that supervisors at the Naco station had not blocked agents from making arrests and that the station's 350 agents were being "supported in carrying out" their duties.
"Border Patrol agents are the front line of defense against terrorism," Chief Aguilar said, adding that the 11,000 agents nationwide are "meeting that challenge, head-on ... as daunting a task as that may sound."
Well, yeah, he's going to say that. What do you think he's going to say? "Our job at the Border Patrol is to provide a safe path for illegals to enter our country and to sit on our hands while they do it."

This is complete and utter BS. These people are criminals (unless I have the wrong definition of "illegal alien"- lemme check- illegal: Prohibited by law; alien: An unnaturalized foreign resident of a country... nope, I got it right). They need to be arrested, put directly on a bus, plane, canoe, whatever, and sent back.

I'm not against legal immigration. Far from it. Legal immigrants (from what I can tell) want to become Americans (not a hyphenated American... just a plain old patriotic American), to blend into society, contributing to the culture. Illegal aliens, in part because they must live under the radar, don't want to become American citizens. They (once again, from what I can tell) earn money (I never said that most of them aren't hard workers), and they send it back to their country. They don't stimulate the economy- they're a strain on the economy.

Here's a dirty little secret. There is a reason why the Mexican government makes cute comic books, explaining how to get across the border, and why Vincente Fox is in favor of a more open border policy with the US. While they might be a strain on our economy, illegal aliens working in the United States are necessary for the Mexican economy. They send millions upon millions of dollars back to their country every year to help support the families they've left behind. Without that money, their economy would be in worse shape than it already is. But, instead of spending money and resources to improve the economic outlook south of our border, the Mexican government is taking the easy way out and encouraging its citizens to break the law (it's just our law, so I guess it's no big deal) and send the money back to their country. Lovely.

Sorry... I distracted myself. The border patrol... round up the illegals. Send them back. Wall the border. Now. Always.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Still Not My Fault...

Another really bad joke. From the same friend. Feel free to blame him, not me.
Brenda O'Malley is home making dinner as usual, when Tim Finnegan
arrives at her door.
"Brenda, may I come in?" he asks. "I've somethin' to tell ya."
"Of course you can come in. You're always welcome, Tim. But
where's my husband?"
"That's what I'm here to be tellin' ya, Brenda. There was an
accident down at the Guinness brewery."
"Oh, God no!" cries Brenda. "Please don't tell me..."
"I must, Brenda. Your husband Shamus is dead and gone. I'm
Finally, she looked up at Tim. "How did it happen, Tim?"
"It was terrible, Brenda. He fell into a vat of Guinness Stout
and drowned."
"Oh my dear Jesus! But you must tell me true, Tim. Did he at least
go quickly?"
"Well, no Brenda, no."
"Fact is, he got out three times to pee."
Like I said... not my joke. Don't blame me.

Poetry, Anyone?

DoggerelPundit, the Imperial Poet Laureate, has written a verse that everyone, especially political-minded Trekkies, will just love. No, really... go read it. And enjoy the Photoshop, as well!! Image hosted by

Don't Blame Me!

A friend of mine sent me this joke. Yeah... it's bad. It's really bad. But you're going to chuckle. I just know you are.
Here is some interesting info on the recent Papal election. The Inside word is that Ratzinger was not the Cardinals' first choice. The preference was, interestingly, Cardinal Hans Grapje.

Grapje was raised in a Catholic school in The Hague and, as a young man, aspired to become a priest, but was drafted into the Army during W.W. II and spent two years co-piloting B-17s until his aircraft was shot down in 1943 and he lost his left arm. Captain Grapje spent the rest of the war as a chaplain, giving spiritual aid to soldiers, both Allied and captured POWs.

After the war, he became a priest, serving as a missionary in Africa, piloting his own plane (in spite of his handicap) to villages across the continent. In 1997, Grapje was serving in Zimbabwe when an explosion in a silver mine caused a cave-in. Archbishop Grapje went down into the mine to administer last rites to those too severely injured to move. Another shaft collapsed, and he was buried for three days, suffering multiple injuries, including the loss of his right eye. The exposure to the high silver content in the mine's air gave him purpura, a life-long condition characterized by purplish skin blotches.

Although Cardinal Grapje devoted his life to the service of God as a scholar, mentor, and holy man, church leaders believed that he should never ascend to the Papacy. They felt that the Church would never accept a one-eyed, one-armed, flying purple Papal leader.

Who Did They Irk?

FoxNews is reporting that an Air France flight from Paris to Boston has been diverted to... Bangor, Maine. (sorry, as of right now, no link).

Anytime there is someone on the "no fly" list who gets through the European screening process and gets on a plane headed to US soil, the plane gets diverted to... Bangor, Maine. The only time Bangor is even in the news is when the FAA (or the FSA or whoever does this) sends them a terror-wannabe (or a presumed terror wannabe).

Who did Bangor hack off to get that kind of press? I mean... this can't do much for their tourism...

UPDATE: (11:45am CST) Evidently, if this person is who they think it is, they're not happy about him/her being on that plane. FBI will be there, in force, and there will be a "major law enforcement presence." Yikes! Did OBL get onboard or something?

One Stop Shopping

If you ever wanted to support the troops, I found the perfect website to help you out.
“America Supports You” spotlights what Americans are doing all across the land, encourages others to join the team and allows all to tell their stories by giving voice and visibility to their efforts.
Their "How You Can Help" page has a long list of ways you can support our troops.

Around the Wire

Here are some headlines that caught my eye this morning:
And now... some medical/science news:
That's about it. My coffee cup needs a refill.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Another Blogfest? Sign Me Up!

Evidently, the idea of blogfests is contagious, and the next one is being planned, even as I type.

The Inaugural Texas Hill Country Tunes, Toobs and Targets Blogfest is in the works!!!

Who: bloggers and blog readers (Right, Zippo?)
Where: Brew Naunfels, TX (New Braunfels for those of you actually trying to look it up on mapquest) (lodging locations to be announced)
What (is planned): sounds like Gruene Hall Friday night; toobing one of the rivers on Saturday, followed by grilled animals and fermented grain; Sunday (I think) is a trip to a gun range to be named later
When: June 24-26 (tentative date)
Why: because Zippo is too cool and it will be fun. And we can!

Zippo, did I get it all right?

So... you know you want to go. You know you do. How do you sign up? Go to Zippo's site (link above), leave a comment and let him know you're in! He'll fill in the blanks later!

Making the Grade

When I was a kid, I got paid for my grades. It was my job, my report card was my performance review, and I was paid accordingly. (Yeah, yeah... I know... that's baaaad. Oh, well. Thank heavens I was born before all this touchy feely stuff took over.) I don't remember the pay scale (Dad... help here?) but I remember getting paid x for Bs and 2x for As. It was a subtle encouragement to do my best (along with plenty of positive reinforcement at home). And, if my GPA was any indication, it worked, and worked well.

I guess grade school kids in Florida don't have that option anymore.
Elementary-school principals in a Florida school district have tossed out the traditional letter grade system in favor of using numbers to report on students' progress.

Beginning in September, elementary students in Palm Beach County will see only a 1, 2 or 3 grade for each subject and skill, the Palm Beach Post reported.
So... they match up somehow, right? A=something and B=something else, right? Uh... no.
According to the report, a 1 means the student is working a year or more below grade level, a 2 indicates the student is working less than a year below grade level, and a 3 means he or she is working at or above grade level.

"Somehow, people believe that when they see an A, B, C, D or F, they have all kinds of information about a child's progress," Bill Thompson, principal of Forest Park Elementary told the paper. When As, Bs and Cs were chosen decades ago to rate students' work, "there was no such thing as grade-level expectations, the Sunshine State Standards or No Child Left Behind."
OK... this "1, 2, 3" business also tells me nothing about a child's progress. If a student gets a "3", they might be at level. Or they might be far above level. Same with a "2". I think we can all agree that a "1" is an "F".

When the boys were in the lower grade school grades, instead of grades, they had a bar graph, with certain goals for the year on it. As they accomplished the goal, the bar graph was colored in. That made sense. You knew exactly how much progress they were making during the year. Now, that they're older, they don't get letter grades- they get a percentage grade, which I think is actually better than letter grades. An "A" might be a 100%, or it could be a 91%. I like the school district's system (so far).

There was one other little tidbit in the article that I almost missed. This... stunned me.
Last fall, the Montgomery County public schools implemented a new grading policy that requires students be given no less than 50 percent credit for work that was never submitted. One teacher who computed for the Washington Post what difference the policy made in his students' grades reported 15 percent of his pupils received a higher grade for the fall semester because they received 50 percent credit for work they didn't do.
Uh... NO! You get a big fat "0" for work not turned in. That is insane! We wonder why we have kids graduating who can't read or write or do simple math? Maybe it's because teachers have to give Johnny LazyBones a 50% for work he never bothered turning in.

We are raising a generation of citizens who have learned nothing about responsibility or personal accomplishment or competition or... or... No wonder so many parents are opting to pull their kids out of the public school system to either put them in private schools or, better yet, homeschool. I fear for the future of our nation if this is the best we can do for our kids.

Gotta Love Public Schools

Many public schools in this country are very good. Some are great. Others... aren't. And some might be good schools, but they just let stupid stuff happen on their watch.

Some Wisconsin middle-school students got to take home souvenirs from a health fair -- condoms.

An AIDS education group was handing out the prophylactics at the health fair organized by North Central Health Care in Wausau. The idea was to educate the middle-schoolers on the dangers of alcohol and drugs. School district official Roger Rindo said administrators didn't know about the condom giveaway in advance.

Organizers and teachers stopped the handouts once they realized what was happening.District officials have sent a letter home to parents about the incident, and the AIDS education center has apologized.
Can someone please explain to me why an AIDS education center would be invited to a health fair centered around the dangers of alcohol and drugs? Yeah, I know... sharing needles can spread AIDS... whatever. I think we all know that the majority of material handed out by AIDS education centers talks about "safe sex", not "safe drug abuse."

Is there some rule that middle school administrators have to check their brains at the door?

"Start Me Up"? How About "Retire Already"

Yesterday, the Rolling Stones announced their 2005 tour (and new album) with a 3-song set outside of Julliard in Manhattan.
The year-long tour begins Aug. 21 in Boston and comes to the New York area Sept. 15 at Giants Stadium. Tickets for that show go on sale May 23 through Ticketmaster. Dates at smaller theaters and clubs are also planned. Prices will be about 10% higher than the previous tour in 2002, said tour promoter Michael Cohl, ranging from $99 to $110...

After the performance, singer Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards, both 61, joined drummer Charlie Watts, 63, and guitarist Ron Wood, 57, to answer questions. Jagger said the band will "dig into the catalogue" for this tour and also play songs from its upcoming album.

Jagger wouldn't say whether this would be the band's final tour. "We take every tour as it comes," he said.
I'll admit it- I've never been a big Stones fan. Appreciate them, sure. Like them? Not really. They were on the classic rock station in St. Louis before I even started listening to rock music.

I guess I just don't understand the resurgence of old bands. Everyone's doing reunion tours or new albums or whatever. For some reason (I blame the Baby Boomers, but I'm willing to blame them for a lot of stuff, so... ), people feel the need to relive their youth. OK, granted, for the most part, music today pales in comparrison to the songs of the past (there's only so much you can do with 3 chords and a synthesizer). But still...

It's not just music. People just refuse to grow up. When I look at The Greatest Generation, and even the older Boomers, I don't see this behavior as much. They have their own diversions, but they just seem more... well, grown up to me. Younger Boomers, Busters, Gen X, etc... we grew up with video game arcades, and then we just moved them into our homes. We're too lazy to lose weight and get in shape the old fashioned way- why should we when we can just visit a plastic surgeon and have the fat sucked out and everything tucked back where it used to be? Wrinkles are zapped with lasers or lifted, hair is colored (yeah, yeah... if you don't know what my original hair color is, I'm not telling), skin is tanned (by UV lamps or sunless sprays). We watch old movies (or the new remakes of old movies and tv shows), listen to the music of our youth, and pretend that we're still in high school or college.

I'm not saying that the Stones (or Styx, or Mötley Crüe, or whoever) shouldn't release new music (especially if they still have the ability to create good music and put on a good show) or go on tour. This isn't about them. This is more about our inability (as a culture) to go beyond our youth. Maybe some of us need to grow up.

Although... I did find it quite humorous that one of the songs the Stones played yesterday was "Oh No, Not You Again" from their new album, because that pretty much the first thing that crossed my mind when I heard about this. That, and Charlie Watts would make a great spokesperson for Geritol.

Just sayin'...

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

From the "Well, Duh..." File

As if Andy didn't know this already...

I am:
"You're the perfect sycophant of the Republican elite. Tom DeLay and Karl Rove would be utterly proud of you."

Are You A Republican?

(h/t to Beaker)

Helping a Friend

Many of you in the blogosphere already know the story, but I'll recap for those of you who don't read my entire blogroll on a daily basis (and why is that?).

Friday night, an Olds of unknown ownership took out all three of MamaMontezz and Delftsman's automobiles. Then, in a "let's just turn that dagger that's stuck in your back" kind of way, Allstate is claiming that they don't have to cover it.

So... LC Richthoven has made a proposition. If you can help out, please do. They're good people, good friends. (And they're T1's future in-laws, but that's another story all together.) (h/t to Misha and George)

Love Is In The Air!

Our favorite Brit Student made a quick trip to Colorado this weekend. Evidently, he actually wanted to meet this cybersqueeze of his. So... he flies in and... well... here's Gina's version of what happened... be warned... it's sappy... it's ewwey-gooey sweet... and very very wonderful.

Ah... young love... and they're cute, too!!!

They're Shocked? I'm Shocked!

As the President wraps up his trip to Europe, we get this little gem from the Netherlands.
Dutch police arrested six activists on Sunday who said they wanted to enter President Bush's Netherlands hotel and look for the suitcase which allows him to activate nuclear weapons.

"We heard Bush carries a nuclear suitcase and can push the red button at any time to set off atomic weapons. We find this extremely shocking," said Leo de Groot, a spokesman for the activist group.

This is shocking to them? I thought pretty much everyone knew about "the football." This season of 24 talked about it quite a bit. Or is it shocking because W. has control of a huge nuclear arsenal?

Here's a clue, Sparky. The President of the United States is the Commander in Chief of the US Armed Forces. With that job comes the responsibility for a HUGE arsenal, including just a few nuclear weapons. It would be illogical to presume that he could not control them from just about anywhere on the planet.

And... umm... just one more thing... I kinda doubt that, when you open the football, you find this panel with one giant red button that is labeled "Launch the nuclear weapons". THAT would be shocking...

The Salami Have Landed

FoxNews is just a fount of information today. This story is just... cool...
Brothers Marc and Michael Brummer figure the best way they can help support U.S. troops stationed in Iraq is to try to feed them — thousands of them.

The co-owners of Hobby's Deli hope to send salami to the entire 42nd Infantry Division, currently in Tikrit.
So... these brothers started Operation Salami Drop, with the goal of sending 23,000 one pound salami to the troops. The first 2000 salami were shipped last week, and they arrived yesterday in Tikrit. There are 2,500 in their store, ready to go, and 5,000 more on order.

"We know there are a bunch of homesick men and women over there, and to be able to do something. ... How do you put words to it? You have to do something. I can do salamis," Marc Brummer said... All have been purchased with donations of $10 per salami, including a 13-year-old girl who donated $1,000 from her bat mitzvah money.

I have heard about all kinds of cool programs for sending stuff to the troops (the gourmet coffee is a cool one). Our church has a campaign to send care packages to the troops. But this one is by far the most unique that I've heard about.

That is TOO Funny

I'm watching FoxNews (go figure) and they're talking about the hacker attack that breached Cisco Systems defenses and accessed government computers. The investigation is currently centered around a sixteen-year-old Swede that goes by the name 'STAKKATO'.

When Linda Vester expressed surprise that the hacker might be a teenager, the gentleman she was interviewing said something quite funny. He said that kids are a lot smarter, and they have instant access to information that it took us years and years to accumulate. Then... here's the good part... he said, "and now we're homeschooling kids, and they're just pushing themselves, to see how far they can go and how much they can learn. We just can't keep up." (That's a paraphrase... sorry... )

I'm not sure if I should be happy or sad about that. I mean, I'm sad because it sounds like this guy is blaming homeschoolers for hacking problems (uh... no... ). But... on the other hand, I'm pretty darn happy that people are starting to realize that homeschool kids aren't (in most cases) getting gypped in their learning. Maybe, just maybe, they're getting an even better education.

In the one year we homeschooled, the boys learned a lot. Maybe their composition skills needed a little work, but besides that, they impressed me. They not only learned what they were supposed to learn (according to someone in an office somewhere), but they learned more. They learned how to communicate with adults. They learned how to find things out on their own. (One of my pet phrases last year when asked a question was "Google is your friend.") They learned that there is far more to learn about a subject than you find in your textbook (and that some-read most- textbooks unfortunately have some form of bias and don't just put forth facts without commentary). Did they learn to be hackers? Well, no... but T2 now knows more about WORD than anyone else in this house.

Sorry... just found that humorous...

From the "Things That Make You Go 'huh?' " File...

It figures that I'd find this on Strange Cosmos:
An African Lion is responsible for the death of 28 Cambodian Midgets.

Spectators cheered as entire Cambodian Midget Fighting League squared off against African Lion

Tickets had been sold-out three weeks before the much anticipated fight, which took place in the city of Kâmpóng Chhnãng.

The fight was slated when an angry fan contested Yang Sihamoni, President of the CMFL, claiming that one lion could defeat his entire league of 42 fighters...

The Cambodian Government allowed the fight to take place, under the condition that they receive a 50% commission on each ticket sold, and that no cameras would be allowed in the arena.

The fight was called in only 12 minutes, after which 28 fighters were declared dead, while the other 14 suffered severe injuries including broken bones and lost limbs, rendering them unable to fight back.

Sihamoni was quoted before the fight stating that he felt since his fighters out-numbered the lion 42 to 1, that they “… could out-wit and out-muscle [it].”
So... exactly how were 42 midgets supposed to fight a lion? And why would they?

From the "Not a Big Surprise" File...

Howie "The Scream" Dean is endorsing a candidate for US Sentate from his home state of Vermont. Ok, that is really no big surprise. The surprise (but not a real big one) was who he endorsed.
Breaking party lines, former Gov. Howard Dean said Monday he supports Rep. Bernard Sanders' bid for the U.S. Senate, saying the Independent makes a "strong candidate."

"A victory for Bernie Sanders is a win for Democrats," Dean said in a telephone interview Monday.

Technically, Bernie Sanders is an Independent, but that's just because not many Socialist party members have a chance of winning an election. Yes, Sanders is a socialist, so he and Howie have plenty in common.

"I think Gov. Dean and Congressman Sanders share an interest in beating back a very aggressive reactionary agenda of President Bush and congressional Republicans," Weaver (Sanders' chief of staff and campaign spokesman) said. "We intend to win this seat and Bernie will be a strong voice against the Bush agenda."

Uh... ummm... yeah. That evil Bush agenda. The one that most of the country is in favor of. You go for it, Bernie... we're behind you 100%. (I just hope the GOP in Vermont has someone good to run against him.)

In Seattle, police used a Taser on a woman who was almost 8 months pregnant. I'm sure they had a good reason, right? She's a drug dealer, or a bank robber who was resisting arrest, right? She'd just beat the snot out of a child or something equally evil, right?

No. She was speeding.
She was rushing her son to school. She was eight months pregnant. And she was about to get a speeding ticket she didn't think she deserved.

So when a Seattle police officer presented the ticket to Malaika Brooks, she refused to sign it. In the ensuing confrontation, she suffered burns from a police Taser, an electric stun device that delivers 50,000 volts.
So, let's see... she didn't deserve a ticket for going 12 mph over the speed limit? Wrongo, Chickie... you were running late, and you weren't paying attention to the spedometer. You're busted. Deal with it.

As far as I can tell, that's the extent of her fault in this matter. Last time I checked, you don't have to sign the ticket. She said she'd take the ticket. That should have been enough for the fine officer. But, nooooooo...
Officer Donald Jones joined Ornelas in trying to persuade Brooks to sign the ticket. They then called on their supervisor, Sgt. Steve Daman.

He authorized them to arrest her when she continued to refuse.

The officers testified they struggled to get Brooks out of her car but could not because she kept a grip on her steering wheel.

And that's when Jones brought out the Taser.
So, the supervisor, who wasn't there, told them to arrest a woman for... what? Refusing to sign a speeding ticket? Then they pulled out the Taser when she refused to get out of the car. The police completely and totally over-reacted. And now they might get sued for it. Lovely.

So, they finally get her out of the car. They take her to the ground and cuff her. She is then transported to the precinct where an EMT "confirmed" that she was pregnant. (Uh... if she's 8 months pregnant, there's not much confirmation necessary, is there?) She was then transported to the hospital for observation. Fortunately, the baby girl was fine (born healthy on Jan. 31st).

Here's a clue, gang. Tasers are a good thing, when used in the right situations. When you're trying to subdue a dangerous person, Tasers are a great alternative to lethal force. Using a Taser to try to arrest a very pregnant woman because she was speeding is not only not an appropriate use of force, it's just plain stupid. If you guys keep doing stuff like this, people will start yelling "police brutality" and have the dang things taken away from you. And that would be a bad thing.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Where do I get one of those?

I'm watching 24, and it's in hour... 21? of the current season... and I noticed something...

Jack's cell phone battery is still going strong. Where can I pick up a cell phone battery with that kind of lifespan?

Saving Money

So, while doing a little research on the net, I found this really cool site.

The idea behind the Grocery Game is that for a (very small, all things considered) fee, the nice people at the GG will track sales trends, keep tabs on what coupons have been in the paper recently (and haven't expired yet), and what's on sale (either just on sale, a really good deal, or... if you go to the right store and have the right coupons, free!) this week.

What do you do? You get the newspaper. Or several newspapers. You clip the coupons and look through the ads. Then you print out the list and head out to the store. The reason you might want several newspapers is that when things are either really good deals or FREE, you stockpile. Once you get your stockpile established (they say about 12 weeks is the average for getting the stockpile completed), you're grocery bill will drop dramatically.

It makes sense. If you get the coupons and stockpile when things are really, really cheap, then use your reserves when the prices are a bit higher at the store, then of course you'll save money. R and I are both doing the 4 week trial right now. I'll let you know what I decide.

That being said... if anyone has any extra coupons they're not using... I'll take 'em!!! Image hosted by

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