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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Wednesday's Hero

This Weeks Hero Was Submitted By Mark Bell

LCpl. Nicholas J. Manoukian
LCpl. Nicholas J. Manoukian
22 years old from Lathrup, Michigan
1st Marines 6th Batallion 2nd Marine Division
Oct 21, 2006

is a website that LCpl. Manoukian's mother set up for her son after he lost his life in Ramadi.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
It Is Foolish And Wrong To Mourn The Men Who Died. Rather We Should Thank God That Such Men Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. If you would like to participate in honoring the brave men and women who serve this great country, you can find out how by clicking here.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Fightin' Words

On Trace Adkins' latest cd, there's a song called "Fightin' Words." The whole cd is worth a listen or 3, but this song just made me chuckle (and think of a few bloggers I know). Especially the last bit:
Excuse me
First amendment?
Son, the first amendment protects you
from the government
Not from me
You can say whatever you want to out there
You come within reach of me
I'll exercise my right
to give you a good ol' country ass whoopin'
Is what I'll do for you
By God
Gotta love it!

Da Bears

No, I'm not a fan of the NFL team, but I am quite the fan of the fuzzy variety. Even if they do root for the team from Soldier Field.

That being said, this is cute.
You can guess who Axhi and Jim Brown Bear are rooting for this weekend. They showed their support for Brian Urlacher, Thomas Jones, Lance Briggs, Rex Grossman, Lovie Smith, and the entire team Monday when they tore into a giant Indianapolis Colts helmet. They also tossed a Bears football around for good measure.

In anticipation of the big game, Brookfield Zoo’s 1,000-pound resident brown bears were treated to some football-themed behavioral enrichment items. Staff and young visitors at Hamill Family Play Zoo created two piñatas—a football with the Chicago Bears logo and a football helmet with the Colts logo. Each piñata, measuring about three feet, was filled with some of the bears’ favorite foods.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I really hope this video does not portend things to come.

Monday, January 29, 2007

News Reader

You're not gonna believe some of the stuff I came up with today:
I may come up with more later.

Impatient People Annoy Me

I was in the grocery store today, and the shortest check-out line only had one person in it. I got in line just as the checker started her stash. It was a big stash of munchies- someone's going to have a big party this weekend, from the looks of it.

Within a minute or so of me getting in line, a guy gets into line behind me. The checker is still going to town on the previous cart'o'goodies, but she had to stop every now and then to bag up what she'd wrung up so far (there weren't any baggers to be found). We're standing there a few minutes, and the guy behind me goes and finds someone to ask for a bagger to help the checker. There weren't any.

About 10 minutes or so, the guy behind me pulls out his cell phone, and I can only presume that he called the grocery store's corporate office because his call started with, "Hello, I'm at your Cedar Park store, and I've been in line over half an hour."

So, I'm standing there, patiently watching this poor checker scan and bag close to $400 in groceries (why the lady in front of me couldn't help bag is beyond me- maybe she doesn't know how), and listening to this bozo lying through his teeth about how long he'd been in line and how much he spends at the store every week and how his kids would be out of school in a few minutes and he'd be late (if they got out of school at that time, they're in middle school or high school and wouldn't be traumatized by a few minutes' delay in the oh-so-frigid 50 degree weather). He also claimed loudly that he spends a lot of money at this store, and if this was the kind of service he was going to get, he's just going to go to the more expensive store on the other side of town. And so on... and so on...

I just stood there, biting my tongue. I didn't want to get into it with this moron. I'm still not feeling 100%, and I had a headache, and I wouldn't have been my chipper self if I'd opened my mouth. Turning around and saying, "you lying sack of #*$&" probably wouldn't have gotten me far, anyway. Instead, when it was my turn, I paid for my items with a big smile, said "thanks" and when the poor checker said, "sorry about the delay," I responded, "No problem, it wasn't your fault. You're doing a great job." And then I went straight to customer service.

I asked to speak with a manager. I had to wait a couple of minutes. Not a problem, I'll wait for this. When the manager came by, I explained to him what happened, and said that I wanted him to know, in case he got a call from corporate, that the guy was exaggerating more than a little, and that (insert name of checker here) was doing a wonderful job and should be praised, not reprimanded for her job today.

He just stood there, stunned, for a moment. "Thank you, ma'am." "You're welcome. It was my pleasure."

There's a little part of me that wishes I'd turned around and told the jerk to shut up. The grocery store is always busy at that time of day. If he was in such a hurry, he should have planned better.

Then again, I hope he does start going to the other store- their service stinks.

Sunday, January 28, 2007


When I taught the boys to share, I really didn't mean that they had to share everything. Especially tummy bugs.

Ugh... going back to bed... again...

Friday, January 26, 2007

What Is That Saying...

... about people who protest too much?
Western movies from "Raiders of the Lost Ark" to "Aladdin" promote negative stereotypes of Muslims by casting them all too often as villains, a British Muslim pressure group said on Thursday.
uh... um... if the costume fits... (btw- I absolutely love the fact that al-Reuters refered to the Islamic Human Rights Commission as a "pressure group. whoever wrote that is now out of a job, I'm sure. Can we start calling CAIR that?)
The report pointed the finger of blame as far back as the 1981 blockbuster "Raiders of the Lost Ark" in which "the cultural stereotypes and scenarios are patently obvious" as veiled women hurry through the bazaar to snake-charming music.
Wow. Maybe the cultural stereotypes of the 1930s (which is when it was set). Was that how life was in Cairo in the 30s? If not, prove it.
The 1998 film "The Siege" starring Bruce Willis and Denzel Washington was accused of reinforcing "the monolithic stereotype of the Arab/Palestinian/Muslim being violent and ready to be martyred for their cause."
In case you didn't see it, the US captures a suspected terrorist, and his little peace-loving friends began a wave of terrorist attacks. Not all Muslims were portrayed as evil- just the bad guys.

Disney's cartoon was criticized for describing Aladdin's homeland as "barbaric."
Oh, come on. This cartoon was set how many hundreds of years ago? There is a reason the Christians fought the Muslims in the Crusades back then, and I don't think it was because Saladin was such a calming influence. (yeah, yeah... he was known for his chivalry... but he actually wasn't quite as nice as his PR machine would have you believe. Read this some time.) What's really sad is that, if you go to many Muslim communities in most Mulsim countries today, you'll see a very similar scene (except for the music- that's not allowed in some places).

I did a quick search, just to see if there really aren't any Muslim heroes out there. I found these guys, but I think they'd only reach a select market, considering the fact that Noora doesn't wear a burkha. The Muslim heroes of today, unfortunately, are the suicide bombers.

Looking back through Hollywood's history, we can see some trends in "villians." During the late 3os and early 40s, the bad guys were usually Nazis. (Come to think of it, they were the real bad guys in Raiders, not the Muslims.) In the 70s and 80s, the Ruskies became the ultimate nemesis. With the Cold War over in the 90s, Hollywood had to find the next new evil. Sorry, guys, but y'all are walking charicatures of the ultimate evil.

The solution to this little PR problem is quite simple, and yet impossible. If the Muslims don't want to be seen by the rest of the world as the bad guys, then they have to change their own image. No more blowing people up. Beheadings have to stop. Embrace the peace they claim is so central to their religion.

Am I holding my breath? Nah... I told you it was impossible.

Later, gang. I think I'm going to watch Aladdin again.

Times Have Changed

These are stats from the year 1906. Wow.
The average life expectancy in the U.S. was 47

A three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost eleven dollars.

There were only 8,000 cars in the U.S., and only 144 miles of paved roads.

The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph .

Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa, and Tennessee were each more heavily populated than California.

With a mere 1.4 million people, California was only the 21st most populous state in the Union.

The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower !

The average wage in the US. was 22 cents per hour.

The average U.S. worker made between $200 and $400 per year .

A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year, a dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.

More than 95 percent of all births in the U.S. took place at HOME .

Ninety percent of all U.S. doctors had NO COLLEGE EDUCATION !

Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press AND the government as "sub-standard."

Sugar cost four cents a pound.

Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.

Coffee was fifteen cents a pound.

Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo. (EE-EWW)

Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from entering into their country for any reason.

The Five leading causes of death in the U.S. were:

1. Pneumonia and influenza
2. Tuberculosis
3. Diarrhea
4. Heart disease
5. Stroke

The American flag had 45 stars. Arizona , Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Alaska hadn't been admitted to the Union yet.

The population of Las Vegas, Nevada, was only 30 !!!!

Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and ice tea hadn't been invented yet.

There was no Mother's Day or Father's Day.

Two out of every 10 U.S. adults couldn't read or write.

Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.

Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at the local corner drugstores. Pharmacists said, "Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health." ( Shocking ? )

Eighteen percent of households in the U.S. had at least one full-time servant or domestic help.

There were about 230 reported murders in the ENTIRE U.S.A. !

Thoughts for the Day

Here are some thoughts for your day:
Aspire to inspire before you expire.


Frustration is trying to find your glasses without your glasses.

Blessed are those who can give without remembering
And take without forgetting.

The irony of life is that, by the time
You're old enough to know your way
Around, you're not going anywhere.

God made man before woman so as to give him time to think
Of an answer for her first question.

I was always taught to respect my elders,
But it keeps getting harder to find one.

Every morning is the dawn
of a new error.

The quote of the month is by Jay Leno:

"With hurricanes, tornados, fires out of control, mud slides, flooding, severe thunderstorms tearing up the country from one end to another, and with the threat of bird flu and terrorist attacks, "Are we sure this is a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?"

Thursday, January 25, 2007

You sure don't look like an iguana

I don't know if I should be happy or scared about this. I mean, I loved the original. Then again, I was 13. And I also was a big fan of the original Battlestar Gallactica.

According to the info I could find, several members of the original cast have signed on, and they're trying to negotiate with the studios. Good luck with that.

But... just remember: "If you are going to defy them, do it right... V... for Victory."

The Rest of the News

Some of these are funny. Some, not so much:
That's it. Gotta run.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Wednesday's Hero

This Weeks Hero Was Suggested By Kathi

Lt. Col. Michael E. McLaughlin
Lt. Col. Michael E. McLaughlin
44 years old from Mercer, Pennsylvania
2nd Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division, Pennsylvania Army National Guard
January 4, 2006

Sitting in the car with Lt. Col. Michael E. McLaughlin's 18-year-old daughter, her father's friend of 21 years had just broken the news of his death.

During years of friendship and service in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, Lt. Col. McLauglin and retired Capt. Brad Mifsud had a bond so close that they promised each other if something were ever to happen to either one of them, they would be there for the other's family.

Lt. Col. McLaughlin died when a suicide bomber rushed through a crowd of Iraqi police recruits in Ramadi and detonated a bomb that also killed a Marine and nearly 80 Iraqis. The day before the attack, Lt. Col. McLaughlin said he was fully confident that Ramadi had finally turned a corner in the insurgency. As hundreds of local men streamed into the Ramadi Glass Factory on Wednesday to join the city’s long-defunct police force, a wide grin spread over a pinch of tobacco stuffed into the 44-year-old’s lower lip.

"This may not look like much, but it's history," McLaughlin told a reporter. "We're making history right here."

With a significant wound to the back of his head, Lt. Col. McLaughlin turned to his injured personal security detail officers and inquired about their well-being. Waving off medical attention, he asked them to check on the soldiers under his command.

"In an act of extreme selflessness, he stated that he was OK, but to concentrate on saving the lives of his men," said Col. Grey Berrier, a close friend of Lt. Col. McLaughlin.

Lt. Col. McLaughlin died shortly after giving that instruction, according to the Guard.

A long-time artillery officer in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, McLaughlin was assigned to Task Force 2-222 Field Artillery and was the primary liaison between the 2-28 Brigade Combat Team and local tribal and government leaders in Ramadi. His efforts were instrumental in getting local sheikhs to support the recruitment drive and encourage more than 1,000 area men to volunteer for the force, commanders said.

"Mike is a true hero in every sense of the word, and he died while doing his job the only way he knew how - out front and with great enthusiasm and courage," said Col. John L. Gronski, commander of the 2-28 BCT. "This loss only strengthens our resolve to carry on and complete the mission in order to honor his memory."

A gregarious wisecracker, McLaughlin said his hope was to one day return to a peaceful Iraq, where he planned to walk the streets of Ramadi in a traditional Arab "man dress," or dishdasha, and sip coffee and chai with those sheikhs he had met during the war. McLaughlin said that one particular tribal leader he had developed a close relationship with dubbed him "The Sheikh of Sheikhs" - a nickname that was soon picked up by fellow officers in the brigade.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
It Is Foolish And Wrong To Mourn The Men Who Died. Rather We Should Thank God That Such Men Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. If you would like to participate in honoring the brave men and women who serve this great country, you can find out how by clicking here.

'Round the Wire

Here's the news for the morning:
That's it... lunch time!

Out Of Control

Everyone who's been on a plane more than once or twice has had to listen to a crying baby. It's just part of traveling. Occasionally, you might have a wonderful little tot who has nothing better than to kick the back of your seat for the entire 4 hour flight (while the ditsy mom just looks at you and grins as if to say, "isn't that just precious?"). But not many people have had to deal with this:
AirTran Airways on Tuesday defended its decision to remove a Massachusetts couple from a flight after their crying 3-year-old daughter refused to take her seat before takeoff...

..."The flight was already delayed 15 minutes and in fairness to the other 112 passengers on the plane, the crew made an operational decision to remove the family," AirTran spokeswoman Judy Graham-Weaver said.

Julie and Gerry Kulesza, who were headed home to Boston on Jan. 14 from Fort Myers, said they just needed a little more time to calm their daughter, Elly.
And that was before the plane took off!

No, Mr. and Mrs. Kulesza, you didn't need more time to calm Elly. You were allowed to board the plane first because of your daughter, so you easily had 15 minutes before the flight was scheduled to leave to calm her. You also had the 15 minutes extra that they gave you to calm her. So you had at least a half hour to get your spoiled brat of a child under control. And if you can't figure out who's the parent in a half hour of your child running loose in the plane, crawling under the seats and hitting you, then you have more problems than getting kicked off the plane.

I'm not overly harsh or dictatorial with my kids, and there is no way that my kids, even at 3 years old, would have ever done that. It's not part of their temperment, and they knew they wouldn't get away with it.

It brings to mind a story that I might have told before. When the boys were in Cub Scouts, one of their fellow Cub Scouts through a major temper tantrum, in front of a bunch of people, because his father said "maybe" when asked if they could go to Ci-Ci's Pizza. Note that the father didn't say "no"... he said "maybe." We quietly got into the car (to go to Ci-Ci's) and one of the boys asked what William was doing. "Throwing a temper tantrum." Why?" "Some kids think that they can change their parents' minds by doing something like that." "What?" "Yup, and what's sad is that a lot of parents do give in." "Not in this family. That 'maybe' would have been 'no'."

I can pretty much guarantee that Little Miss Elly will be throwing temper tantrums like this for the next 30 or 40 years at least. Mommy and Daddy will give her everything her little heart desires, just to keep her happy. Then she'll find some nice young man who will give her everything, to keep her from throwing a tantrum. And then she'll have kids and either pawn them off on the nanny or turn them into spoiled brats, just like her.

Maybe I'm being overly harsh on the parents and their little darling. Maybe Elly was just having a very bad day or wasn't feeling well or was scared or something. Maybe her parents are actually great parents who just lost control for a moment. For some reason, I doubt it.

Mr. Kulesza says that his family will never fly AirTran again. Woohoo! I'll make sure to book my next flight through them, if possible. And, when I do, I'll let them know that it's because their crews got this one right.

Monday, January 22, 2007

So Much For Supporting the Troops

I got this from Texas Fred, who got it from Ms. Underestimated. I'm not what you'd call a happy camper about this:
Three updates below.

One of our soldiers emailed a retailer in West Allis, Wisconsin, inquiring whether they could ship floor mats to an APO address. The NCO wanted to buy better gear for his troops to sleep on. You won’t believe the company’s response*. (Their email address is included below, if you’d like to let the company know what you think of their business.):

From: SGT Jason Hess
Sent: Tue Jan 16 3:25

Do you ship to APO address? I’m in the 1st Cavalry Division stationed in Iraq and we are trying to order some mats but we are looking for who ships to APO first.


Sent: Tuesday, January 16, 2007 9:44 PM
Subject: Re: Feedback: from

SGT Hess,
We do not ship to APO addresses, and even if we did, we would NEVER ship to Iraq. If you were sensible, you and your troops would pull out of Iraq.

Bargain Suppliers


Apparently, Discount-Mats prides itself on its customer service: “Outstanding Service - As a customer, you’re part of our family. You can expect friendly, courteous, responsive service before and after the sale.” Unless you’re an American servicemember, that is.

This cheesehead (definitely not a cheesehad with that name) person of indeterminate ethnic origin really turned out to be such a bonehead. Let’s educate this loser - it’s bad business to insult our troops, doncha know?


fax: 414-543-9634

Here is their mailing address:

Bargain Suppliers
3259 S.106th Street
West Allis, WI 53227

* Verified as true by Snopes. (Update to Snopes below.)

The soldier, SGT Jason Hess, has been inundated with fine Americans offering more gear than he knows what to do with! He has plenty of suppliers now.


The company’s domain is registered to:

Faisal Khetani
PO Box 270693
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53227

Administrative Contact:
Khetani, Faisal
3259 S.106th Street
West Allis, Wisconsin 53227
United States
(414) 543-9634 Fax

Site is down and experiencing technical difficulties


Since the Discount Mats website is still down with technical difficulties, here is another avenue of approach:

Faisal Khetani is also a supposed fitness expert/consultant and publisher of some fitness publications like the Dream Body newsletter. His other website is Weight Lifting Workout Routines. Another email address is:

Another phone number: 414-736-8394

This additional venture of Khetani’s is also registered to the same above contact information. It’s definitely the same guy.

UPDATE 3: Snopes has since qualified their entry with this statement (as of this afternoon):

Since we’ve only heard from one side, we can’t yet rule out the possibility (as occured with a similar email) that Sgt. Hess may have recevied a response from someone who was not authorized to be corresponding with the business’ customers.

They’ve also changed the button from green (”True”) to yellow to indicate “a statement of undetermined or ambiguous veracity”.

However, if the company owner wished to clear his good company’s name, and blame some nameless, faceless non-authorized employee, wouldn’t he respond to the inquiries by Snopes?
They've got a point. Wouldn't Mr. Khetani want to correct the record? I don't like to stereotype, but he's making quite difficult.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A Funny For You

I got this from Kat:
A Montana cowboy was overseeing his herd in a remote mountainous pasture
when suddenly a brand-new BMW advanced out of a dust cloud towards him.

The driver, a young man in a Brioni suit, Gucci shoes, Ray Ban sunglasses

and YSL tie, leans out the window and asks the cowboy, "If I tell you
exactly how many cows and calves you have in your herd, will you give me a

The cowboy looks at the man, obviously a yuppie, then looks at his

peacefully grazing herd and calmly answers, "Sure, Why not?"

The yuppie parks his car, whips out his Dell notebook computer, connects
it to his Cingular RAZR V3 cell phone, and surfs to a NASA page on the

Internet, where he calls up a GPS satellite navigation system to get an
exact fix on his location which he then feeds to another NASA satellite
that scans the area in an ultra-high-resolution photo. The young man then

opens the digital photo in Adobe Photoshop and exports it to an image
processing facility in Hamburg, Germany.

Within seconds, he receives an email on his Palm Pilot that the image has
been processed and the data stored.

He then accesses a MS-SQL database through an ODBC connected Excel
spreadsheet with email on his Blackberry and, after a few minutes, receives
a response.

Finally, he prints out a full-color, 150-page report on his hi-tech,

miniaturized HP LaserJet printer and finally turns to the cowboy and says,

"You have exactly 1,586 cows and calves."

"That's right. Well, I guess you can take one of my calves," says the


He watches the young man select one of the animals and looks on amused as
the young man stuffs it into the trunk of his car.

Then the cowboy says to the young man, "Hey, if I can tell you exactly

what your business is, will you give my back my calf?"

The young man thinks about it for a second and then says, "Okay, why not?"

You're a Congressman for the U.S. Government", says the cowboy.

"Wow! That's correct," says the yuppie, "but how did you guess that?"

"No guessing required." answered the cowboy.

"You showed up here even though nobody called you; you want to get paid

for an answer I already knew, to a question I never asked. You tried to
show me how much smarter than me you are; and you don't know a thing about
cows...this is a herd of sheep.

"Now give me back my dog."

Friday, January 19, 2007

Points to Ponder

Here are a few little thoughts to ponder:
1. God wants spiritual fruit, not religious nuts.

2. Dear God, I have a problem, it's Me.

3. Growing old is inevitable... growing UP is optional.

4. There is no key to happiness. The door is always open.

5. Silence is often misinterpreted but never misquoted.

6. Do the math... count your blessings.

7. Faith is the ability to not panic.

8. Laugh every day, it's like inner jogging.

9. If you worry, you didn't pray. If you pray, don't worry.

10. As a child of God, prayer is kind of like calling home everyday.

11. Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape.

12. The most important things in your house are the people.

13. When we get tangled up in our problems, be still. God wants us to be still so He can untangle the knot.

14. A grudge is a heavy thing to carry.

15. He who dies with the most toys is still dead.

That's One Way of Looking At It

After being interviewed by the school administration, the eager teaching prospect said:

"Let me see if I've got this right. You want me to go into that room with all those kids, and fill their every waking moment with a love for learning, and I'm supposed to instill a sense of pride in their ethnicity, modify their disruptive behavior, observe them for signs of abuse and even censor their T-shirt messages and dress habits. You want me to wage a war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, check their backpacks for weapons of mass destruction, and raise their self esteem. You want me to teach them patriotism, good citizenship, sportsmanship, fair play, how to register to vote, how to balance a checkbook, and how to apply for a job. I am to check their heads for lice, maintain a safe environment, recognize signs of anti-social behavior, make sure all students pass the state exams, even those who don't come to school regularly or complete any of their assignments.

"Plus, I am to make sure that all of the students with handicaps get an equal education regardless of the extent of their mental or physical handicap. I am to communicate regularly with the parents by letter, telephone,newsletter and report card ?.

"All of this I am to do with just a piece of chalk, a computer, a few books, a bulletin board, a big smile AND on a starting salary that qualifies my family for food stamps! You want me to do all of this and then you tell me . . . I CAN'T PRAY ???? YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING."
When we homeschooled, I did all the same things. Well, no, not really- there were a lot of those things I didn't have to do because we were homeschooling. I mean, I didn't have to worry about checking for weapons or censor their t-shirts. That wasn't really a problem, ya know? Oh, yeah... and I did pray. A lot.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


Here are some headlines you may or may not see in the MSM:
OK... time to do something with my day. Have a good day, gang!

Very Cool Rescue

A helicopter pilot in Oklahoma saved a deer... with the rotor wash from his chopper blades.
A deer stranded and trapped on frozen Lake Thunderbird was saved by an Oklahoma City television station helicopter pilot.
K-W-T-V pilot Mason Dunn used the wind from the helicopter's rotors to push the deer across the ice. The animal fell once halfway into a break in the ice but the wind from the helicopter lifted it up and out of the water and sent it sliding across the ice-covered lake to shore.

The deer struggled to gain its footing on the icy shore but it eventually ran into a nearby wooded area.
Here's a video of the rescue.

The Freedom Rock

Mom sent me an e-mail with some photos of the Freedom Rock in Iowa. I had remembered seeing those photos before, but I couldn't remember the story.
Every year, for the last five years, a talented artist, Ray (Bubba) Sorensen II, has done a Memorial Day tribute to our servicemen and servicewomen, both past and present, with a stirring tableau painted on a large granite boulder which stands next to Highway 25. The huge granite boulder came out of the nearby Schillberg Rock Quarry and it weighs approx. 56 ton (50.8Mg) and is 12 ft (3.7m) high.

For years this boulder was known as "the graffiti rock" and was decorated for high school rivalries, love interests, etc. Since the Memorial Day paintings began, the "rock" has remained with the annual tribute intact.

When Sorensen was 19, he saw 'Saving Private Ryan' and he felt that patriotism was at an all time low and was not being taught in our schools and this motivated him to paint the rock. People were always driving by to see what was painted on the rock. Sometimes there were bad things and other times is was good. He knew if he painted the rock a lot of people would see it.

Sorensen paints over the previous years mural with white paint and starts with a black canvas. He draws a sketch of his idea on paper and then draws the design by free hand onto the rock. This takes him anywhere from one to three weeks to paint. He gets his ideas from books, movies, previous artwork and images by other artists.
Here is one photo of this year's rock:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

This web site has photos of all six versions of the Freedom Rock. And this site has information on how to contact Bubba and buy merchandise (proceeds go to purchase paints and supplies for the rock).

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


So, I'm trying to stay warm down here (it's only 30° below normal). Here are a few things (with minor commentary) that I found in the news:
OK... that's it for now.

Wednesday's Hero

This Weeks Heroes Were Suggested By CavMom

This week I have three people to talk about. Roy Velez and his two sons, Jose and Andrew. One who was lost in Iraq and another who lost his life in Afghanistan.

It happens almost daily. A stranger reaches out to comfort Roy Velez, unintended symbol of unspeakable loss and grief.

Today it's a woman who approaches as he's halfway through breakfast at Montelongo's Mexican restaurant.

"My brother told me about you and your sons," she says, extending her hand.

He takes her small hand between his - this sturdy man who has buried two boys who went off to war - and listens gently as her own story of sorrow spills forth. Her 8-year-old daughter, a traffic accident, her son at the wheel.

As waiters bustle about with trays of huevos rancheros and barbacoa plates, Mr. Velez does what he does best: offers up a soft prayer to help this mother endure her emptiness.

Strangers learn about Mr. Velez from newspapers and TV. They come to him to share their gratitude or their grief. They come to thank him and console him, tearfully, for his family's sacrifice.

This is how Mr. Velez chooses to live after losing two sons in two years, not riven with anger or paralyzed with sadness. But as someone ready for those who might slip into the darkness of despair.

For his strength for others, compassion and grace - and for serving as inspiration for anyone who knows his story - Mr. Velez is the 2006 Dallas Morning News Texan of the Year.

Because this story is so long, I've linked to the article which you can read in it's entirety.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Have Every Right To Dream Heroic Dreams.
Those Who Say That We're In A Time When There Are No Heroes, They Just Don't Know Where To Look

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. If you would like to participate in honoring the brave men and women who serve this great country, you can find out how by clicking here.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Stupid Headline Alert

Can you tell me what's wrong with this headline?
Embryo Saved From Flood Is Now a Boy
The story is pretty cool, but... the headline is just ridiculous.
Rescued from a great flood while he was just a frozen embryo in liquid nitrogen, a baby boy entered the world Tuesday and was named after the most famous flood survivor of them all, Noah.

Noah Benton Markham - 8 pounds, 6 1/2 ounces - was born to 32-year-old Rebekah Markham by Caesarean section after growing from an embryo that nearly defrosted in a sweltering hospital during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Like I said, awesome story. Stupid journalist(JANET McCONNAUGHEY), but I'm being redundant.

Janet, ... can I call you Janet? That baby was always a boy, even when he was just a glimmer in Daddy's eye living in his LN2 waterbed, he was male. Breathing air instead of amniotic fluid does not make him a boy- being conceived made him a boy. From the day that the scientists said, "sperm, meet egg... get to know each other," he's been a boy, with all the right parts and pieces that make him a boy.

But... that being said... welcome to life on the outside, Noah!

The New Seven Wonders Candidates

In case you didn't know, there is a search on for the New Seven Wonders of the World. Today is was announced that Petra was one of the candidates.

No, not that Petra. This Petra:

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Not that I have anything against the band. I love the band. But they're not quite a candidate for the 7 Wonders.

Other candidates include the Taj Mahal, the Statue of Liberty, Stonehenge, the Easter Island Statues, and the Sydney Opera House. (The rest of them are pretty cool, too.) Interesting note: I've been to or seen 3 of the candidates. (I saw the Statue of Liberty from a distance, and I've been to Stonehenge and Neuschwanstein Castle.)

So Much For That Candidate

This morning, Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) announced that he's forming an exploratory committee to seek the Republican nomination for President for the '08 election. Tancredo is well-known for his immigration reform stand, and, at first glance, I thought I'd like him.

Then I read this article about him and some of his backers. One group's name, The Federation for American Immigration Reform, sounds a lot more mainstream than some of their positions.
According to campaign finance reports, one of Tancredo's biggest financial backers has been the family of Dr. John Tanton, the founder of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Wall Street Journal editorial-page features writer Jason Riley wrote a devastating piece about the organization back in 2004, in which the group's pro-abortion and pro-eugenics roots were revealed. (emphasis mine-B)
What does abortion and eugenics have to do with immigration? Evidently, more than I thought. Granted, I have not been able to find direct evidence except their association with the Pioneer Fund, a group which is very pro-eugenics. Also, in the same article, there is a quote by a FAIR board member espousing infanticide. FAIR's founder is also a past president of Zero Population growth, and one of the founders of the first Planned Parenthood chapter in northern Michigan.

Well, drat. All I want is a good conservative candidate: pro-life, pro-faith, pro-family, pro-gun, pro-capitalism, pro-military, pro-school choice, pro-privatization of Social Security, original intent constitutionalist. Is that too much to ask?

EDIT: Yes, I realize that all politicians take money from people who they don't agree with, and people give money to politicians with completely opposing viewpoints, hoping to sway them. It's the nature of the beast. Doesn't mean that I'm happy with it.

Let The Insanity Begin

As you may have heard, Texas is under attack. No, really. At least, that's what it sounds like if you turn on any tv or radio station. The invader? WINTER.

This weekend, the weather was pretty lousy. Rainy. Chilly. Yucky. Many people ran to the grocery store as if Armageddon was on its way. Sunday night, the temperature managed to stay above freezing for the most part, but the few schools that didn't have MLK Day off took a bad weather day. Then, last night, the temp dipped below freezing, and the panic was in full swing.

This morning, the school closing list is "everyone except Giddings, Granger, Flatonia, or Thrall." (what are those people thinking??) The Inauguration parade has been canceled (the Clydesdales thank you, I'm sure). Major businesses in the area are either closed (Dell, IBM, 3M, Applied Materials) or will open late. The news is wall-to-wall "Don't drive! Don't even go out to get the paper! Let the dog walk himself!" And, then there's the guys from Austin Energy sheepishly pointing out that our power lines aren't really designed to handle ice, so there will be plenty of power outages before this is said and done. Yippee.

In all honesty, people up north wouldn't be ignoring this weather. It's dangerous. But, then again, folks in the Great White North don't have to deal with the Mexican semi drivers who are trying to drive through town before rush hour. Several stretches of the I-35 and MoPac are closed (from what I can tell, if it's an overpass, it's blocked). 183 and 290 are the same way. Icky.

The Hill Country might see snow. We'll just see ice.

Time for some more hot tea. Stay warm, everyone.

UPDATE (1:05pm): What is all of this white stuff that is falling from the sky?

UPDATE (8:15pm): The boys are doing their Snow Day Dance... again...

Monday, January 15, 2007

Awesome Pics has some of the best spcae photos of 2006. Go, check 'em out.

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MLK Jr. Day

Today is the day that our nation remembers the ideals of Martin Luther King, Jr. Or at least, it's the day that federal, state, and most city employees get off work, there's no mail delivered, and some kids get off school, just to ask "why did we get to stay home today?"

I've always been partial to Dr. King's I have a dream speech.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
Sounds good to me.

Compare Dr. King and his ideals and his vision with the "civil rights" leaders of today. When history judges the civil rights movement in this country, Dr. King will be remembered. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and other won't even be a footnote.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A Family Loss

It's through tears that I type this. Our 12 year-old Corgi, Snort, just passed away. We found her, awake but unresponsive, in the backyard. Rushed her to the emergency clinic. They did x-rays and found out that her stomach had flipped. They started surgery, but then they discovered that she had a tumor on her spleen, several lesions on her liver, and her kidneys were covered with cysts. They really couldn't do anything to save her.

R.I.P. Baby Dog.

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Difficult Choices

The boys had to do Language Arts profiles this week at school. One part of the profile is to write an essay on a given topic (there are several that are randomly handed out). T1 didn't have any problems with his topic, but T2 wasn't so lucky. His topic was "talk about a difficult choice you had to make." uh... um... huh?

Granted, some middle school kids have some pretty tough choices to make. Peer pressure can weigh heavy on a tween, and the lure of the "grown up" world of drugs and (ACK!!!) sex can be too much for some kids. Some middle schoolers might have to choose whether to stand up to a bully or not, or some other form of "do the right thing." Other kids, unfortunately, have other choices based on the poor homelife that I don't think I can even imagine.

Then there are my kids. They've lived an incredibly normal middle class life. Their choices revolve around what video game to buy with their gift card or what to put on their Christmas list. Are they going to watch "Dr. Who" or "Battlestar Galactica" on TiVo? Do I do my chores now, or do I do them later? That's about it.

As I thought about the topic, I figured that some of the students didn't have any trouble coming up with a difficult choice they've made. But not T2. He had some problems with it.

So... what did he come up with? The difficult choice that he had to make was... what to write his essay about. Yup... he's writing about how he hasn't had to make many tough decisions.

One of these days, I'm going to get him his own blog. But not today.

Friday, January 12, 2007


I'll work on a nice little rant on her rudeness, Senator Boxer, later. Here's a little something to hold you over (no, I didn't check them ALL out. That's what will keep you busy until I finish the rant):
Random Trivia

"Stewardesses" is the longest word typed with only the left hand and "lollipop" with your right. (Bet you tried this out mentally, didn't you?)

No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, or purple.

"Dreamt" is the only English word that ends in the letters "mt". (Are you doubting this?)

Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears never stop growing.

The sentence: "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" uses every letter of the alphabet. (Now, you KNOW you're going to try this out for accuracy, right?)

The words 'racecar,' 'kayak' and 'level' are the same whether they are read left to right or right to left (palindromes). (Yep, I knew you were going to "do" this one.)

There are only four words in the English language which end in "dous": tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous. (You're not doubting this, are you?)

There are two words in the English language that have all five vowels in order: "abstemious" and "facetious." (Yes, admit it, you are going to say . a e i o u)

TYPEWRITER is the longest word that can be made using the letters only on one row of the keyboard. (All you typists are going to test this out)

A cat has 32 muscles in each ear.

A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds.

A "jiffy" is an actual unit of time for 1/100th of a second.

A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes.

A snail can sleep for three years. (I know some people that could do this too.)

Almonds are a member of the peach family.

An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain.

Babies are born without kneecaps They don't appear until the child reaches 2 to 6 years of age.

February 1865 is the only month in recorded history not to have a full moon.

In the last 4,000 years, no new animals have been domesticated.

If the population of China walked past you, 8 abreast, the line would never end because of the rate of reproduction.

Leonardo Da Vinci invented the scissors.

Peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite!

Rubber bands last longer when refrigerated.

The average person's left hand does 56% of the typing.

The cruise liner, QE2, moves only six inches for each gallon of diesel that it burns.

The microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket. (Good thing he did that)

The winter of 1932 was so cold that Niagara Falls froze completely solid.

There are more chickens than people in the world.

Winston Churchill was born in a ladies' room during a dance. (not true)

Women blink nearly twice as much as men.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Round the Wire

Here are a few things in the news:

Klingons? In the White House?

Rep. David Wu (D- OR) leaked important State secrets on the floor of the House. He announced that there were Vulcans in the White House. Then, he corrected himself, and he said there are Klingons in the White House.

A couple of points. First, if you can't tell the difference between a Vulcan and a Klingon, I don't think you're smart enough to be in Congress (don't they have briefings on this stuff?). Second, if you feel the need to refer to the "real" Klingons and the "real" Vulcans, you need to up the thorazine.

James Trafficant used to use a lot of Star Trek quotes on the floor of Congress. People thought he was a loon (and he was... but a fun loon...) What does that make Rep. Wu?

But... if Rep. Wu is right... does that mean that the terrorists are Tribbles?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Wednesday's Hero

This Weeks Hero Was Submitted by Beth

Spc. Jordan William Hess
Spc. Jordan William Hess
27 years old from Marysville, Washington
Company C, 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment
December 5, 2006

"Specialist Hess died of wounds received on a battlefield upon which no markers or memorials exist, yet his name will be etched upon the small part of each of our hearts that has hardened to stone by the realization of his passing. I will take Specialist Jordan Hess’ name to my own grave, in the hope that I can somehow preserve the honorable life that he led,” said Capt. Ian Lauer, commander of Company C.

Spc. Hess was a study in contrasts who loved a challenge. He had a warrior's spirit and was thrilled at the chance to serve his county, his parents said from their home in Marysville. He also was content to look for his muse in various forms of art, including glass-blowing, photography and poetry. It was this balance that people will remember most about the 26-year-old who was critically injured Nov. 11 in Ta'Meem, Iraq, when an IED detonated near his combat patrol.

A three-year veteran in the U.S. Army, Hess spent more than a year in Korea as well as time in Germany, always looking for an overseas assignment, Bill and Tammy Hess said. They knew their son was on his way to Kuwait the last time they spoke with him in October, and they suspected he had been deployed to Iraq as part of a tank unit when they didn’t hear from him for several weeks. After his injury, Hess was flown back to the United States and treated for several weeks at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. His parents, as well as his six brothers and one sister, were flown there to be with him.

"None of us wanted to see him hurt like that," Bill Hess said. "But one of the greatest blessings in my life was that we were able to say goodbye."

Hess was an avid wrestler from the time he was young, and news of his death circulated at Lake Stevens High School, where he attended until 1999. "He was a strong-willed, independent young man with a unique sense of humor," the Lake Stevens wrestling coaches said in a statement. "The Lake Stevens wrestling community today feels a strong sense of loss."

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Have Every Right To Dream Heroic Dreams.
Those Who Say That We're In A Time When There Are No Heroes, They Just Don't Know Where To Look

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. If you would like to participate in honoring the brave men and women who serve this great country, you can find out how by clicking here.

Time For Tea

OK... complete topic switch... deal with it...

Yesterday, a friend of mine sent me a link to this wonderful company. So many teas... so little time. I need to find a nice Lapsang Souchong. Yum.

Then, as a hint that I needed to steep myself a cup or two of the good stuff, we find out today that the silly Brits have been drinking their tea the wrong way all these years. Who knew? I used to drink tea like that all the time. Now? Not so much.

I'm pretty sure I've waxed poetic about the joys of coffee from time to time here. Don't get me wrong- I love a good cup of Joe. But, I also love to relax with a cup of tea. Or a cup of warm cider. Come to think of it... almost any warm beverage would be fine with me.

I love going into tea shops. (I went to the tea and coffee museum in London- wow! Then there's Teevana at the Mall of America. mmmm....) The aroma as you walk in is enough to make you a true believer. Now I need to resist the urge to buy one of every sampler pack at Adagio...

Dang... time for another cup of tea...

Living Up To Expectations

Or not.

Did y'all watch the almost month-long Bowl Series? How many were there? By my count, 32. I could have missed one or two, though.

Probably the biggest "news" from the Bowl Series was the number of upsets that shocked and dismayed the sports pundits (are there such a thing?). Boise State beat my beloved Sooners in what was, by everyone's accounts, an amazing game. Any Bowl game that goes into OT because of a last minute "trick" play (I hate calling them that- it's only a trick because it tricked the opponent) AND ends with a proposal can't be half bad. Then there was the Gators surprise victory (or, shall we say "rout"?) over the "can't-be-beat" Buckeyes of Ohio State.

All in all, the Bowl games were pretty close. Most of the victories were by 10 points or less. Many by 3 or less. The close games are the good games, and there were plenty of good games.

But, that's not what will be remembered. We will remember the Smurf Turf Davids of Boise State whacking the Goliaths of Norman with the perfect sized stone, and the Gators showing up the #1 team in college football. The "big guns" of college football once again failed to live up to the expectations- of fans, of the media, of pretty much everyone.

Eh... it happens. (More often that not if you're a Sooner fan... but I digress...)

S*** Happens

No, I'm not cussing. I'm venting.

In case you haven't seen them, there are several new Volkswagon ads out that show friends driving along in their Jettas (btw- friends don't let friends drive Jettas), and, suddenly, they're in a major accident. Cars folded up like an accordion- the whole bit. The next shot is of the friends standing outside their car, and one of them says, "Holy..." and "Safe Happens" appears on the screen.

Is it just me, or can we be pretty sure that "Holy Safety" wasn't what was about to come out of those characters' mouths? I mean, they're not dressed up like Robin or anything.

Now, California seismologists (and, presumably, whichever California government agency is responsible for PSAs) are starting a earthquake preparedness campaign with the slogan "Shift Happens." No, I don't really want to get into a discussion of the necessity of a campaign to make the fine folks of the great state of Caleeforneea (I think that's how Ahnold pronounces it) understand the potential dangers of earthquakes in a state best known for same-said quakes. To me, it just proves how much of a nanny-state California really is.

No, I'm talking about "S" words. I try very hard not to cuss. I'll admit I don't always succeed, but I do try. And, I get a little... peeved when people chose to go the overly vulgar route just because they can. But, I'm not so naive that I think no one should ever cuss. I know better- it's going to happen. And, if there isn't a cuss word available, they'll make one up (see Battlestar Galactica's use of the word "frack" for the f-bomb and Farscape's "frell"). Course language happens. I know that.

The subliminal use of cursing is just a bit grating for me. I have two teenaged boys to raise, and I'm trying to show them that there are other words to use besides the standard issue cuss words. (Yeah, I started cussing when I was about their age, mostly because I thought it sounded grown up.) I know they're going to cuss. It's part of growing up, and part of being an adult, I guess. (I will, however, do my best to delay it.)

My "rules" are pretty simple- I try not to say anything that I wouldn't feel comfortable saying in front of my grandmother. Like I've said, I don't always succeed. But that's my goal, none-the-less.

There is a (false) belief out there that people who "resort" to course language do so because of a lack of education. That is completely wrong. Some of the smartest people I know have made cussing an art form. And, sometimes, the best way to describe a situation concisely is with a few choice words.

I know all of that. I'm ok with it, even (as long as no one is taking the Lord's name in vain). I'm not ok with media (be it a commercial from a car company or a state PSA) making it seem common place and acceptable at all times. It's not.

But I'm sure I'm just being over-sensitive. Right?

Monday, January 08, 2007

Happy New Year a Week Late

Sorry 'bout that, gang. Spent some time with the family. Now it's time to back into our regular routine. I'll start posting again as soon I did myself out from under the pile of dirty laundry.

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