December 31, 2010

Old Slut on Junk

That is an epic song lyric, huh? I had this in line to post with my other favorite Christmas songs, but skipped over it in the excitement of the holidays (tongue firmly in cheek).  Don't watch the video too close if you have a weak stomach.  I am not sure how people survive with those sorts of dental nightmares.  I realize that you might have a hard time deciphering Shane McGowan's slurring brogue, so I have included the lyrics below.

It was Christmas Eve babe
In the drunk tank
An old man said to me: won't see another one
And then they sang a song
The rare old mountain dew
I turned my face away and dreamed about you
Got on a lucky one
Came in eighteen to one
I´ve got a feeling
This year´s for me and you
So happy Christmas
I love you baby
I can see a better time
Where all our dreams come true.

They got cars big as bars
They got rivers of gold
But the wind goes right through you
It´s no place for the old
When you first took my hand on a cold Christmas Eve
You promised me Broadway was waiting for me
You were handsome you were pretty
Queen of New York City when the band finished playing they yelled out for more
Sinatra was swinging all the drunks they were singing
We kissed on a corner
Then danced through the night.

And the boys from the NYPD choir were singing Galway Bay
And the bells were ringing out for Christmas day.

You´re a bum you´re a punk
You´re an old slut on junk
Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed
You scumbag you maggot
You cheap lousy faggot
Happy Christmas your arse I pray God it´s our last.

And the boys of the NYPD choir's still singing Galway Bay
And the bells were ringing out
For Christmas day.

I could have been someone
Well so could anyone
You took my dreams from me
When I first found you
I kept them with me babe
I put them with my own
Can´t make it out alone
I´ve built my dreams around you

And the boys of the NYPD choir's still singing Galway Bay
And the bells are ringing out
For Christmas day.

So long 2010

It's New Year's Eve and I am slacking on the post.  Sorry.

We won't be starting 2011 with our plumbing mess resolved.  I have Day 3 pictures and backstory, I will post those later.

I like this time of year for the retrospectives that TV and newspapers do.  Not a year goes by that I don't watch or read the list of celebrities that died in the preceding year and, at some point, say, 'When did he die?".  Despite being a news junkie, one or two always seem to slip by me.

I used to look forward to buying the Life magazine 'Year in Pictures' issue.  I know they still put out some big, $12 retrospective, but I liked it better when it was just the year end issue to a once great magazine.  I ain't payin' $12 to wade through the trials and travails of the Kardashians, just to see some great war or nature photography.

Here's a video montage of musicians that died in 2010, from the NYT.  How many do you recognize?

I don't have any great thoughts on the year.  The economy still stinks.  Our leadership is abysmal.  I will be among the first to cheer a turnaround, when I finally see it happening.

On the home front, my family is generally healthy (though we all spent most of Christmas break with a cold), we can pay all of our bills and we have a number of good people to call 'friend'.  Those are the things that matter the most.

I don't like to make resolutions either.  If a change needs to be made, make it - don't decide on a date certain and then leave all that time to talk yourself out of it or set unrealistic expectations.  I keep dreaming of quitting my job.  Since my job revolves around an event, I will do the right thing and make it through until then.  It's not much of a job anyway, I volunteer three times as many hours as I am paid for.  I would rather spend that time with my kids.

No plans for the night.  This is the one day of the year that I HATE Mr Harper's job.  I would trade in every benefit and the peace of mind that comes with him being gainfully employed, for having him home tonight.  The Big Boss has a tradition of gathering together his regional managers and touring the market overnight on New Year's.  No one can get him to comprehend the ignorance of putting his entire senior staff team on the road, together, with all of the drunks.  I don't sleep until he rolls in around 5 am.

Cheers to all of you this last day of 2010!  May you celebrate with friends, a good drink and song - and, hopefully, no car torchings.

December 29, 2010

Stick a fork in me

I'm about done.

Day two of the great Harper House plumbing disaster.  It must be some sort of Murphy's Law that any home repair around here will be more complex, confusing and frustrating than anyone could have predicted.

'We' spent much time running the camera up and down the various pipes of the house.  'We' can't figure out why the only apparent clean outs for two of the bathrooms were capped and buried under new foundation, rather than extended out, as they are shown on the plumbing contractor's plans.  'We' were only mildly surprised that one of the capped clean out pipes was completely sheared off, as if it had been hit by a backhoe tamping the new foundation pad into place.  'We' weren't at all surprised that the cap on the other pipe wasn't even glued on.

Tomorrow, in addition to the jack hammering crew, I will have a backhoe in my yard digging up the main sewer line and replacing it.  It would seem that my tongue in cheek comment about shit rolling downhill has morphed into a realistic issue in my yard.  My sewer line resembles a roller coaster rather than the gentle downhill slope that is the norm.  It is not currently contributing to the issue that we started on, but since we found it, we are going to get it fixed.

When they first found the water standing in the pipes near the septic, we were sidetracked for an hour, locating the septic lids and checking to see if the tanks were full.  They weren't, but close enough that I wanted to take that argument completely out of the equation and have them emptied.  Lovely business, the emptying of the septic tanks.  I do have to say their response time and professionalism dwarfs that of any other service that I have dealt with over the past several years.

As suspected, the broken pipe is under the slab footings.  This requires another hole in the floor through which they will then bore through the beams and install some sort of padded PVC that will have at least 3" of flex, should the foundation move.

While I like and trust the current plumber/job foreman, he isn't good at under promising and over delivering.  Granted, no one could have imagined the nonsensical paths of my pipes or the stupidity and carelessness of the plumber that installed this mess.  Still, he says that they should finish up tomorrow.  Even then, allowing time for the concrete to cure, it isn't likely that I can get someone out to stretch the carpet back until Monday.  Poor Boom, sofa city for the rest of Christmas break.

December 28, 2010

Sh*t rolls downhill. Simple concept for most people, just not the ones that plumbed my house

The one day slab leak plumbing job quickly morphed into at least a two day job.  That puts it at about a six day PITA, from the day we had to move everything out of the room, to the anticipated day that we can re-stretch the carpet over the patched concrete slab and move furniture back in.

We are still working on getting to the plumbing problem.  Not quite halfway there.  Imagine my surprise when they discovered that the nearly 6 foot hole through the floor of Boom's bedroom wasn't going to provide the access they need to get to the whole problem.  The whole problem being the sum of a failed pipe (the cause of failure we anxiously await) and the previous plumbing installation not being one that is considered acceptable practice, much less meeting code.  I have not asked them to fix the problem quickly or cheaply, the only thing I have asked is that they fix it CORRECTLY.  That is going to require boring through the foundation footers of both the old slab and the one added when we remodeled.  That means an access hole on each side. 

One of the roots they saw in the line was so large, that at first, they thought it was a possum.  Can you imagine that story?  When they were telling me what it looked like from their perch on the roof, my mind was furiously inventorying every stuffed animal and toy that we had ever owned that might look like a possum.  I was relieved to find out it was, after all, a tree root, and not something my kids had flushed.

Let me know if anything important happens out there in the real world.  I am likely to remain preoccupied with the disaster across the hall, especially since they left their tools and said I could play with the little jack hammer.  They said the big one would knock me for a loop, but I am tempted to try it anyway.  If I had forgotten to mention it, Mr Harper bailed yesterday, going on an elective business trip.  I think it would be fun to see his face when he comes home to whatever the scene is tomorrow, coupled with whatever the master bathroom tile would look like if I tried to jack hammer it up.  I've been wanting to replace it, and how often do you get the opportunity to use a free jack hammer?

Boom's room 'before' - the cleanest it has ever been!

Still 'before', they had only pulled the carpet back.  You can see the seam between the two foundations.

'During', that is a six foot piece of rebar sticking up.  The pipe is still a few inches under the dirt.  They will widen this hole slightly tomorrow, since they verified that they are where they need to be for part of the problem.  Ugh, the plumbers have to work down there.  The concrete dust has been manageable, but no picnic.
'During', the scene at quitting time, Day 1.  Yes, all that dirt came out of the hole.

Just following the government's example

Both CenTexTim and the Grouchy Old Cripple have posted pointed commentaries about this lady, Raymeica Kelly, the Peggy Joseph of 2010.  Far and wide Ms Kelly's photo has appeared, a picture of her with two electricity bills clutched in her meaty fists, standing in front of a very large flat screen TV, with an XBox also in view, demanding that someone pay her damn bills.

From coast to coast, utility assistance programs are turning away more people than they are helping, because they are out of money.  So, why in the world, are we seeing the 'highest-spending holiday season since 2007, which was a record year'?

Because millions of people don't have a clue how to manage their finances.

I saw it myself on Sunday.  A chance pre-holiday stop at a gargantuan area mall led to a purchase that required a size exchange on the day after Christmas.  The crowds were ridiculous.  The majority of the people in the mall, and yes, I am making a mass generalization, had no business being there.  Why do so many people believe that Christmas cash can only be spent on things?  I would bet my left boob (and it's the nicer one) that 90% of the people in that mall had an overdue bill that needed paying.  But, but, don't pay bills with Christmas money, you gotta go out and get sumpin' nice for yourself. 

Don't give me any grief about stereotyping people.  This ain't my first rodeo.  I have friends, family and colleagues of every ethnic variety and socio-economic level.  They wouldn't be dear to me if they were so overwhelmingly stupid to think that they should get (or keep) a big screen TV before they paid their light bill.  A precious friend spent the better part of the late 90's pawning and redeeming her TV to make rent each month, because she wasn't good at budgeting her bi-weekly paychecks.  At least she tried to help herself, instead of putting her hand out.

The mall people were bottom dwellers.  It was evident from the parking lot to the food court.  When there are more kids riding in the baskets of Burlington Coat Factory shopping carts instead of strollers, that serves as a clue.

Back on point, there is an ever growing segment of society that thinks they are entitled to the finer, or funner, or trendy things in life, regardless of their financial position.  I find it humorously ironic that most of these same people have the crappiest, tackiest taste.  They have no consumer common sense, buying poorly made or overpriced items just for the status.  Yet, here 'we' are, applauding them for flooding the stores and buying everything in sight, stimulating the economy.

What's the lag time between 'best holiday season spending in modern memory' and massive credit card defaults, bankruptcies, non-payment of utilities and increased foreclosures?  How long before the economy retracts from the irresponsible spending in December 2010? 
What really sucks for people that are in genuine need, and might be helped by local assistance agencies, is that people like me can't or won't donate anymore.  The government takes so much of what I earn to redistribute to people like Raymeica Kelly, that I'm burned out on giving any more.

December 27, 2010

It's all fun until the 7-year old wants to know what it means

I saw one of these billboards over the weekend.  I had not, previously, been aware of news stories about them or the stores they promote.  Apparently, some people are offended.  I thought it was funny, though I am glad my younger kids didn't ask me to explain the innuendo.

If you haven't guessed, both websites and their respective stores feature adult-themed merchandise.

December 26, 2010

Tax Planning Advice with a generous dose of Snark

I don't know who Bonnie Lee, the author of this piece, is - but I like the way she thinks.  Ms Lee and I seem to share an almost identical sense of snark and sarcasm, as evidenced by her piece on the extension of the Bush era tax cuts.  I have re-posted it here in its glorious entirety:
We’ve been watching the debates for months, and now, for the next two years, the Bush-era tax cuts will remain in effect. President Obama’s push to rescind the expiration of the cuts for those making less than $200,000 (single) and $250,000 (married, filing joint) went by the wayside.

For those of you poised at the starting line of tax planning, the gun has gone off and you have little time to deploy a final 2010 tax plan.

Conventional tax planning wisdom holds true for 2010:
  1. Don’t bother getting a job. You get another 13 months of unemployment.
  2. No need to sell appreciated stock. The long-term capital gains rate of 15% will apply to stock sales through 2012. But keep your ears open during 2011. Congress loves to change tax law every 15 minutes.
  3. Have more kids. The Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit remain in full effect.
  4. Continue to throw down for your kids’ college tuition. The American Opportunity Tax Credit was previously expanded to include purchases of computer equipment, books and supplies. Of course, if you can afford to send your kids to college, you probably don’t qualify for the credit. You must make less than $80,000 per year (single, head of household) or $160,000 per year (married, filing joint).
  5.  Enjoy that extra $10 you’ll get from your take-home pay. The Social Security Tax rate on your withholding has been decreased from 6.2% to 4.2%. Make sure you stimulate the economy by spending that extra money on artichokes, video games and tickets to Disneyland. After all, if you hoard it in a savings account, you will cause the downfall of this great nation.
  6. If you’re a school teacher, you will still be allowed to write off $250 of purchases of school supplies. I know you likely spend hundreds more out of your pittance of a salary, but thank goodness you don’t care about material things. You only care about the children; and a daily diet of Cheerios and Top Ramen is not an issue for you.
  7. Die before Dec.31, there is no estate tax for 2010. Beginning in 2011 estates valued at more than $10 million will be taxed at 35%.
  8. If you don’t itemize deductions, you won’t be able to write off your property taxes, which Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) tried to include in this package.
  9. All jazzed about the “going green” tax credits on solar and energy saving appliances?  Do it now, and put those items in service (not just paid for by Dec. 31) to maximize the credit. Buried in the legislation is a hatchet job on these credits for 2011 and beyond. The maximum credits have been drastically reduced.
  10. Another Band-Aid on the Alternative Minimum Tax for two years should help a few million Americans reduce their tax bills.
  11. And of course the conventional wisdom – defer income to 2011, pay bills for deductible expenses before Dec. 31. If you own a business, spend a ton of money on equipment and vehicles before year end to take advantage of the Section 179 deduction and bonus depreciation.

You may want to head over to your tax pro to customize these changes for your individual situation.  Your tax pro can explain and apply all the convoluted formulas to determine your liability and suggest ways to decrease it.

And how about a nice round of applause for Congress for going all “bipartisan” to make this happen? C’mon now. I can’t hear you…

Making Memories

One year ago today, I was lounging on a beach in Maui while North Texas was covered in a blanket of snow.  The snow was unusual, the first white Christmas for the area in either 30+ years or 80+ years, depending on whether you believe the meteorologists or the longtime residents.  Regardless, it was a rare occasion - both the snow and my vacation.

Time has blurred some of the excruciating unpleasantness associated with traveling with 10 family members.  Not so much that I would ever consider doing it again, but enough that I can remember that trip more for the good times and less for the familial stress.

Last year "Christmas" was mostly over before we ever got on the plane.  We entertained thoughts of planning for Santa to visit our Hawaiian condo, but, instead, ended up writing a letter to Santa explaining our trip plans and asking him for a special early delivery to our Texas home.  No presents to ship or pack, no big production on December 25th, other than a nice surf and turf meal with a 'sounds of the ocean' soundtrack and many tropical adult beverages.

This year there is no rush or reason to end the season early, but the tree and decor is getting packed away today, before the jack hammers start pounding and blanketing everything in a layer of concrete dust.

Truth be told, it has been a mediocre holiday.  Don't misunderstand, there were no meltdowns or disappointments, but there weren't any surprises or fabulous gifts, either.  Everything was just okay.  I feel a little bad that our home wasn't a Martha Stewart showplace of hand crafted bedazzlement.  I feel a little lazy about not getting out every little Christmas decoration that we own.  We made cookies, we wrapped presents, we had a lovely meal with family.  The kids haven't run out of new things to play with or admire.  But, still, it was just okay.

On the bright side, there is no big post-Christmas let down.  No sadness that the momentous event has passed, because the event wasn't so momentous after all. 

I was wallowing in quite a bit of mommy guilt over the things that didn't happen or weren't felt this year, until my daughter asked me about my favorite Christmas memories as a kid.

The Christmas that I was 5-year's old is memorable because I was in the hospital with pneumonia.  Back then, my extended family drew names each Thanksgiving, to determine who we would buy a Christmas gift for.  My cousin David had drawn my name, and I remember my aunt and uncle bringing me my gift in the hospital and handing it to me under the oxygen tent that was over my bed.

The rest of my childhood memories are just fond times of being at my grandparents.  I really can't remember any particular gifts or events.  Each Christmas Eve, my mom's side of the family always gathered at my grandparent's house.  One of my aunts was in charge of taking all of the grandkids upstairs, where we would rehearse a short set list of Christmas carols.  After twenty minutes or so, we would hear sleigh bells and a hearty, 'Ho, ho, ho'.  That was our cue that Santa had filled our stockings and we could come downstairs and sing.

Remembering it now, it seems like mild torture, to have the kids stand there singing a dozen Christmas carols, while staring at our, now bulging, stockings that we couldn't have until after our performance.

After the songs, we all got our stockings and then the madness of 50+ people in a small farmhouse, opening gifts, eating and visiting with one another, ensued.

Those were the best of times.  I am sure there were some years that materialism and appearances ruled the day, but the fact that I don't remember that part of it gives me hope that, even in the 'off' years, my family is making the right kind of  memories.

December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, to all of you, wherever you are.

We have made it through our Christmas Eve extended family celebration and our immediate family Christmas morning with no tears, no disappointments, only two duplicated gifts and one non-working Ironman toy.

I hope your Christmas is wonderful and that you recognize the true gifts of the season; family and friends.

December 24, 2010

A Christmas Death Wish

Are you done with your shopping?

I'm done, I think.  I went out late last night, after the kids went to bed, to pick up a couple of last minute items. 

A friendly stranger in the check out line asked me if the items in the basket were for my own children.  When I said that they were, she asked if I had a death wish. 

I had two multiple-shot, rapid fire, clip system Nerf guns, with packages of extra ammo.  The boys in my house have a small armory of various Nerf gun weaponry, I decided that the girls should be sufficiently armed to defend themselves. I did choose the whistling ammo, so I should have warning if one is headed my way.

I had a Nerf sword and mace in my cart.  We have a number of wooden and plastic swords and shields, but no other foam weapons.  Another family member bought one of my kids a Nerf sword for Christmas,  I figured it wouldn't be any fun if there was no one to have a Nerf sword fight with.

I had a dart board in the cart, for my oldest boy.

I had an aluminum bat, for the little one that is ready to progress from the plastic one.

I had a package of razor utility knives. 

Finally, I had a plethora of cough and cold medicine, including the two-pack of Nyquil, the nightcap of choice at my house right now.

Drugs and weapons.  It's gonna be a Merry Christmas at Harper House!

December 23, 2010

Wal-Mart saves the world

Contrary to my friend Whited, I hate Wal-Mart.  I really should be more thankful, as most of my household shopping is done there, but I harbor several grudges.  Despite my hatred, I shop there frequently.  We are not wealthy enough to justify paying 25-50% more for household items like toilet paper and light bulbs, just for the privilege of purchasing them somewhere that isn't Wal-Mart.  

A couple of weeks ago, Whited posted about a PSA that had debuted on the Wal-Mart TV screens.

On my 24th trip to Wal-Mart this week, I finally saw it.  As it is the Christmas season, there was no way I could abandon my cart, as Whited said he would.  Having pushed through the crowds for over an hour, and scoring several must-have toys for the kiddos, I had to stick it out.  I listened intently to Napolitano instruct me to report things that 'look suspicious'.  Could they better define 'suspicious'?  Has Janet seen People of Wal-Mart?

Janet told me to tell a Wal-Mart manager immediately.  Have they had special training?  Don't they have enough responsibility?  Hell, they are the only ones who know how to change register tape, now they have to spot potential terrorists, too?

I have dealt with my local Wal-Mart manager on more than one occasion.  Dumb as a box of rocks, that one.  If he is our great hope for homeland security, we are screwed. 

This is still funny.  And timely.  Do you think Wal-Mart management would consider a skeleton in a Santa hat to be 'suspicious'?

December 22, 2010

Beware the pointy candy cane weapons

In Haymarket, Virginia, ten boys who wear ugly Christmas sweaters and try to spread Christmas cheer, were disciplined by their school for, well, no one really knows.

And therein lies the problem.

The boys walked into school tossing 2 inch candy canes to the students in the hall.  They were soon 'sentenced' to detention and 2 hours of cleaning duty for, well, no one really knows.

The explanations vary.
Skylar Torbett, also a junior, said administrators told him, "They said the candy canes are weapons because you can sharpen them with your mouth and stab people with them." He said neither he nor any of their friend did that.
Their disciplinary notices say nothing about malicious wounding but about littering and creating a disturbance.  
Mother Kathleen Flannery said an administrator called her and explained "not everyone wants Christmas cheer. That suicide rates are up over Christmas, and that they should keep their cheer to themselves, perhaps."
Patti Gleason, the mother of Cameron Gleason says, "I am 100 percent sure they did nothing wrong. We've gotten so many different stories. It went from maiming kids with candy canes, to littering. And then when received the referral (disciplinary notice) it said 'disruption.' So nobody really knew what they were getting in trouble for, they were just making up a whole bunch of different things."
Hit the link for a couple of pictures of these vicious monsters.

As with everything else related to regulation, school discipline went south when they started crafting strict written policy and taking discretion and common sense out of the equation.

Several weeks ago I was telling my kids some of the methods of punishment used when I was in school.  Like standing with your back against the wall, arms held straight out in front of you, holding up a couple of encyclopedias.  Standing in the corner or with your nose to the chalkboard.  Rapped on the knuckles with a ruler.  Writing sentences or copying text out of the dictionary or an encyclopedia.  Beating erasers and cleaning chalk boards. I even had one old school teacher that had a dunce hat.

Most of those acts would get a teacher fired today, but look how much better behaved we were.  If you've spent any time in a school, anywhere, recently, you are sure to have seen at least one, if not many, smart-mouthed disrespectful little turds.  A good number of them have parents that will raise a stink if anyone tries to discipline their precious angel.  

A group of kids tries to be pleasant and cheerful and get in trouble for it.  Some jerk of a school administrator couldn't just ask them to stop, or not do it again, or tell them that they need to get permission in advance next time.  Nooooo.  They throw the proverbial book at them, using intentionally ambiguous terms that were crafted for just this sort of misuse.

Mr Harper and I often wish aloud that we could find a town with a small school, a doctor who makes house calls and a close-knit community of people who will step up and discipline your kid when he needs it, bring you food when you are in need and share their talents and knowledge freely.  A place set in its ways enough so that those that don't like it will just leave and not try to change it.  Kind of like Laura Ingalls Wilder's Walnut Grove, only with beer.

December 21, 2010

Merry Pho King Christmas

Subtitled, 'When it rains, it pours.'

A few months back we had a little plumbing situation.  A blocked sewer line that required a friendly plumber to snake it out.  He pulled up a wad of small roots.  At the time, he said that if we wanted to make sure that the problem got fixed, we would need to have them come back with the camera to see where and what the problem was. 

Last week, the line was blocked again.  Our plumber came back and spent hours snaking every easily accessible outlet we have.  There are five clean outs around our house, yet none of them provided access to the blockage.  Up on the roof to the master bath vent stack he went.  He hit roots and pulled a bunch out. We agreed that we needed to get this issue addressed and schedule him to come back with the ($375) camera and locator after Christmas, thinking the line would be fine for some time.  By Saturday, the line was blocked again.

Mr. Plumber came out this morning with the camera and locator device.  He skipped the preliminaries and went right up to the vent stack with all of his paraphernalia.  The issue even attracted a supervisor type that had heard about the mystery and wanted in on the action.  51 feet of camera cable later, Mr Plumber sees a complete failure of the pipe.  It is broken and there is a solid web of roots and debris in the line.  They left the camera in place and came inside with the locator device to pinpoint where they will need to dig.  The spot is right in the middle of Boom's bedroom floor.

Next week, they will be back with jack hammers, creating an access port to the broken pipe that is estimated to be at least 6 feet below floor level.  The break appears to be right where the old slab meets the new slab, from when we remodeled.  If that is, in fact, the case, they will have to work their way through two 24 inch grade beam footers on the new slab side and whatever type of footing the old slab has.  This isn't going to be pretty.

On top of everything else; medical bills, vet bills, a horrifically low home appraisal that dashed all hopes of refinancing to a lower rate, two aging vehicles we had planned to replace next year, a deadbeat ex husband who owes me big bucks and the normal cost of a family of six - the last thing we needed was a major home repair expense.  I am trying to look on the bright side.  Um, so far, all I have come up with is that this will force Boom to clean her room and we really needed to have the carpet stretched anyway.

I am thankful that my family is healthy, happy, there are presents under the tree and, thanks to the creative plumbing of the original homeowner, we still have two working toilets.

Not what Betty Ford had in mind

'Deputies probing Lindsay Lohan in rehab-center battery'

from here.

December 20, 2010

FOD cartoon

December 19, 2010

Slug Bug or Punch Buggy?

Which is it, where you live? I am referring to the time honored car-game wherein you hit another passenger whenever you spot a Volkswagen Beetle/Bug.

We waver between Slug Bug and Punch Buggy. IIRC, when I was a kid, it was Punch Buggy and it was the old-school, original VW Beetle. When I moved to Texas, my friends called it 'Slug Bug' and the game required that you shout out the color of the Bug. You also got two hits for a convertible.

We also used to play 'Popeye', a similar game that centered on cars with a headlight out. I have a distinct memory of my dad and I playing 'Popeye'. We were fairly cutthroat, really going for blood. It was winter and there was an ice scraper on the seat between us. One of those old school metal-edged, two sided things. My dad tried to nail me on the thigh, but missed and cut his hand on the ice scraper. Yeouch.

There was also a regional difference to this game, as Texas variations I encountered as a teenager involved shouting, 'Padiddle' and hitting the ceiling of the vehicle, rather than shouting, 'Popeye' and hitting another passenger. There were rumors of Padiddle variants that included removing an article of clothing, but I never experienced it.

Shortly after my second child was born, VW unveiled the 'new' beetle, and the game was reborn. My kids have grown up with the Slug Bug version, with a family rule that grants two hits for a 'classic' beetle. Recently we had a friend in the car who used the 'Punch Buggy' term, and, ever since, there has been much confusion about which is the preferred term amongst my brood.

The same friend introduced my kids to 'Cheesy Squeezy', a game that involves giving another passenger a little squeeze - generally in the love handle area - whenever a yellow vehicle is spotted. This annoys me to no frickin' end.

Slug Bug, I have nailed - I see that distinctive shape a mile away. Popeye, well, you just don't see them around here much. Not sure if it is modern technology producing longer lasting headlamps, our annual mandatory vehicle inspection or the proclivity of our law enforcement to issue tickets. Whatever it is, we just don't see them enough to bother with the game. But, yellow cars, I just can't seem to prioritize in my brain. I get the squeezed end of the deal and I hate it.

Boom has always loved the Beetle, and says she would like to have a classic as her first car. My argument against classic cars is the work they require. I am not much of a mechanic (and Mr Harper, not at all), so I tell her that I would prefer something newer, with a warranty. She sent me this video, to prove how easy classic VW ownership would be.

December 18, 2010

Bacon Air Freshener

Mr Harper claims to have had a Pappadeaux's gift card in hand at his office party, only to have it swiped in the 'Chinese' gift exchange.  He came home with bacon scented air fresheners and bacon scented and shaped bandages. 

The kids ripped open the bacon air fresheners and hung them up.  The smell is not pleasant.  Artificial bacon scent has a long way to go before it is realistic.  Even the dogs weren't interested, and my dogs love bacon (and horse poop). 

Not a word about the Shake Weight.  Unfortunately, the Big Boss missed the party.  I am tempted to go get another Shake Weight to take as a hostess gift to his house tonight. 

I have to run out and seek some gifts for people I wasn't intending to buy gifts for.  You know the type - extended family (cousins) that came for Christmas one year, and now feel compelled to buy my kids gifts, which commands reciprocation.  I thought spending last year out of town for Christmas might break the cycle.  No such luck, as I was tipped off by my mom that they had called her asking questions about what my kids would like.  So, more shopping, shopping, shopping.  I hate crowds.  Here's a fitting Christmas song.  Skip the first 40 seconds of their 'special message':

December 17, 2010

Shake Weights and Duck Calls

I managed a quick shopping trip this morning, to grab some stocking stuffer items, a chicken and some fresh veggies with which to make myself some soup. Truth be told, I now sound worse than I actually feel, which I am playing to my advantage. Shut up, I deserve it.

I begged off of my holiday party obligation, but sent Mr Harper out the door to his office party.

I have mentioned before that Mr Harper delegates his office party gift buying responsibilities to me. He tries to butter me up by saying how popular my gifts are in the exchange, how everyone is always playing with what I picked out. Granted, I tend to buy items more suited to 10-year olds, like a massive Nerf dart gun (and let's be honest, most of his co-workers act like 10-year olds anyway). That year Mr Harper came home with a Dustbuster. Good Lord, who thinks that a Dustbuster is a fun office party gift?

This year, I am feeling a bit put upon. My kids were quite demanding about baked goods and gifts for school, the class party lists were ridiculous (I was tempted to send warm milk in a bucket to satisfy the 'organic milk' request), and I have a large family to buy for. So when Mr Harper said he wanted to 'help out' with holiday duties, and then, in the same breath, mentioned needing an office gift, I snapped a little bit.

My lovely, trusting husband didn't even bother to ask what was in the brightly wrapped gift I set out by his computer bag this morning. He only raised his eyebrow at me when I suggested he take the Flip video camera and capture some of the festivities. Let's just hope he has it rolling when the office staff starts passing around the Shake Weight.   If the Criplets had posted this sooner, I would have gone with a duck call.

December 16, 2010

Digital Story of the Nativity

Funny commentary on the digital age:

Beware of Dog

I am completely drowning in holiday-related responsibilities and snot, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  Next Tuesday looks promising.  Par for the course, it is Christmas time, several things have required repair at our house, I am sick, Mr Harper has had to travel for work and one of our dogs is requiring hyper-ultra-high maintenance.

Back in October, our dog, Gus, had to have a cyst removed from his paw.  It was in the webbing between two of his toes.  The cyst had swollen up and receded a couple of times and the vet said it just needed to be removed, simple surgery - easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Nothing with that dog is simple.  Gus knocked around in his cone of shame for a couple of weeks, we survived twenty or thirty bandage changes, it healed, hair grew back, and we were done.

For whatever reason, the week before Thanksgiving, Gus started licking at the paw.  The little shit can reach his paw, even in an E-collar.  Back to the vet for cleaning, debriding, bandaging, steroid injections and $140 worth of antibiotics, steroids and a topical drying powder.  We have three pill minder boxes just for the freakin' dogs.  The key, the vet said, is to get him to leave it alone, however we can.

After three weeks of trial and error, we have discovered a workable deterrent system. 

We have a collection of E-collars, but the one that seems to restrict him the best is this old, beat up, intended to be one-time use, white plastic job from the vet clinic.

Any tight or restrictive covering drives Gus nuts and he will stop at nothing to get it off.  What he doesn't mind is a sock, covering his paw.  We were holding the sock on with vet wrap (like the stretchy bandaging they put on your arm when you have blood drawn), but getting it tight enough to stay on caused the paw to swell, which led to more attempts to chew on it.

The next phase of ingenuity was to create a suspender to hold up the sock, alleviating the need for the tight wrapping.  We cut a length of camouflage fleece fabric and safety pin the sock to it, to hold it up.

To keep the paw and sock dry, we cover it when he goes outside.  What works really great is a plastic newspaper sleeve, that we tape to the top of the sock.  Our carrier uses orange bags.    

It is entertaining to see the faces of delivery people and repairmen, when my fierce dog barks at them, in this outfit:

Looks goofy, but it works.

December 15, 2010

Delivering the cash and prizes

A Wisconsin postal carrier says he simply wanted to cheer up a woman on his mail rounds who seemed “stressed out.” But, upon further review, the postal worker says delivering the mail in the nude probably wasn’t such a good idea.
Not 'such a good idea'?  Is there an official policy against nude mail delivery?  C'mon, this could be an untapped revenue stream that would stop the bleeding at the USPS.
A police report says the 52-year-old man told the woman he would deliver the mail to her office in Whitefish Bay completely naked to make her laugh. He says the woman dared him to do it, so he took the dare Dec. 4 and brought the mail wearing only a smile.
I gotta give some credit to the guy for following through.  I like a man of his word.  He offered, she challenged and he did not shirk his duty.
The mail carrier was arrested for lewd and lascivious behavior several days later at the North Shore Post Office. The Journal Sentinel says the man admitted delivering the mail naked was a stupid thing to do.
Lewd and lascivious behavior?  Give the guy a break.  It takes balls to walk into a place naked.  The guy really put it all out there, going commando in Wisconsin, in December.  There was probably some embarrassing temperature-related shrinkage going on.

This mailman gives a whole new meaning to 'We Deliver For You'.   

December 14, 2010

My Reputation Precedes Me

I have a meeting tonight that has several potentially explosive agenda items on it.  I received the documentation on Friday and spent many hours over the weekend reviewing, researching and preparing for the meeting, something my peers are not known for doing.  I like to ask intelligent questions, and have back up documentation when a staff drone provides an incorrect or misdirected answer.  Those staff responses generally reveal a hidden agenda or lack of preparation on someone's part.  I don't ever want to be embarrassed like that, but have no issue with being the one who draws back the curtain on others.  This is on the taxpayer's dime, after all.

While alternately wiping my nose and slathering peanut butter on pine cones with second graders this morning, one of the aforementioned staff drones rang my cell phone.  He wanted to know if I had any specific issues or questions about the agenda items tonight.  He represented that he would like to take time during the day to research my questions in advance, and look up any items that I might be inquiring about.  Luckily I had the background noise of twenty 7 and 8-year olds to explain away my laughter.

Nice try, but I don't like to show my hand to the dealer before the bets are placed.  

December 13, 2010


I have a horrible cold, that I would have been more accepting of if it were to have hit me on Friday or Saturday.  One of my kiddos is getting a nice award tomorrow at school, an event I want to attend.  The two oldest kids have finals three days this week and, one, they need to be healthy, and, two, I need to oversee the studying and preparation a little - something Mr Harper doesn't excel at.  On the other hand, I have a Christmas Luncheon on Friday and Mr Harper's boss is having his annual holiday event on Saturday, both things I would rather not attend.  I tried to entice Mr Harper with Sammy Hagar tickets on Saturday, but he thinks it important to maintain his employment for now.  Maybe I can parlay this cold into full blown pneumonia or something before Saturday.  But not until I finish cooking stuff for school-related gifts.  And not until I finish shopping and wrapping and shipping.  And not until I get my Christmas cards done.  Work and cleaning I can ditch, but not the rest of it.  Moms just can't get sick.

The videography is a little creepy and the mix of American 'celebrities' in attendance is hard to reconcile, but what is most striking, yet again, is that Vladimir Putin is confident, perhaps regal, even when he is doing something that would otherwise invoke laughter.  A couple of comparisons are posted at GGDF.  I'm certainly not saying that Putin should trade politics for the next Russia's Got Talent show, but, hell, he sang an American classic, in English, un-rehearsed, no sheet music and looked completely at ease.  Our president can't sneeze without a teleprompter telling him to do so.

Happy FOD.

December 11, 2010

Passing the Torch

By now you have surely seen the 45-60 second clip of Blowie turning over the podium at a White House press briefing to (former) President Bill Clinton.  Media has played and re-played the emasculating clip wherein the leader of the free world uses his bitchy wife as an excuse to beg off of his duties.  I think it is funny that Bill quips that he would 'hate to make her mad', in reference to the First Wookie.

I have never liked Bill Clinton more.  I guess deep down, the purely American part of me wants to see a leader, to be reassured that someone is In Charge.  When Blowie exited the room and Clinton continued taking questions, he owned that room.  He spoke of economic issues with confidence and more real time facts than one would expect from someone who isn't briefed by a team of advisers each day. 

What you probably haven't seen is the rest of the briefing.  20+ minutes more, after Blowie leaves.  You don't even have to watch it all, even if you just skip through it, you can appreciate that Clinton, regardless of what you think of him or his politics, is profoundly more qualified to form intelligent thoughts, ideas and answers - nearly 10 years removed from the office - than Blowie ever will be. 

The last couple of minutes, Clinton speaks of 'principled compromise' and then goes on to state which issues he thinks are worth a political fight and which are not.  For anyone thinking that Clinton came into that briefing as an ally of Obama, think again and listen closely.  Clinton is more popular than Blowie inside and outside of the Dimocratic Party.  The Clintons enjoy power and neither of them took Hillary's loss to Blowie very well.  Blowie left the room and the mantle of power clearly shifted onto Bill's shoulders.  This is just the beginning.

'Tis the Season

I really don't like to decorate for Christmas.  It is a major PITA for me.  The dragging it all out, the moving of furniture and knick knacks to make room for holiday themed indoor trees and Christmas-y knick knacks.  I have a friend who actually replaces all of the photographs in her living areas with pictures from past Christmases, all in Christmas frames.  Meh.  I just don't have the time or energy for that kind of thing.

We have a little village with lights and people and landscaping.  Just the thought of dragging all that crap out, taking the houses out of the squeaky Styrofoam and trying not to break anything is overwhelming.  I have friends who have a lovely village, complete with a mirrored-surface ice skating rink that a little ceramic girl twirls around on.  They have constructed a permanent surface for their village, and apparently have someplace to store the equivalent of a pool table top in the off season.  I do not.  I tried really hard the first few years, allowing the kids to pick a new house or two each Christmas, adding cars, animals, street lights, fake snow.  Now I pray they don't ask me about it and the boxes can stay in the attic this year.

I hate to change my cleaning patterns, too.  Dusting all that junk makes me want to claw my own eyes out. 

We have an artificial tree that the kids do a great job of shaping and decorating.  I can't tell you how liberating it was, three or four years ago, when I just handed it over to them.  One of Boom's teachers has three trees at his house.  One is completely done in a Star Wars theme.  Another is whatever it is his wife collects and a third, with plain ornaments and such.  For a couple of years we had two trees.  One was for all the ornaments that the kids have made through the years.  I liked that idea, but the tree we had been using for it began to smell strongly of ozone, as if it were going to burst into flames at any moment.  We threw that tree away and haven't replaced it.

I haven't yet drug out the pyramid or other beautiful hand-crafted wooden items we collected in Europe.  That brings about the 'don't touch that' paranoia.  I don't want our house to be like that at Christmas, especially for little ones.  No off limits rooms or plastic covered furniture at our house. We can have 'nice' things when the kids are bigger.

What I do enjoy about Christmas is the cups full of good cheer and the holiday sweets.  My family is an old school candy-making family.  Fudge is made with cream and cocoa only, no marshmallow fluff and chocolate chips, no 'Eagle Brand' kits, just stir 'til your arm falls off old fashioned fudge.  Caramel is worse, it has to be stirred constantly and forever.  So does English Toffee.  The carpal tunnel craze continues with the rolling of chocolate covered peanut butter balls, coconut mounds and cherry mashes.  We flip a coin to see whose mixer to use as we attempt my grandmother's divinity recipe, known to burn out appliance motors.

Newer additions to our candy day include peppermint bark with bittersweet and white chocolate and this chocolate and peanut butter coated cereal mix that is dusted with powdered sugar - Boom's friends call it 'Christmas Crack' and place their orders early.

Last weekend I mixed up a batch of Hot Buttered Rum batter that keeps in the freezer for use as needed.  I also acquired a supply of Tuaca and cider, it makes the wrapping go faster.
First in a series of my favorite Christmas carols for your enjoyment, a Jack Johnson tune in which he has added a verse to Rudolph that is worth the listen.  This live version is a little rough, but you get the idea.

December 9, 2010

The things that clog my brain

I was paying some bills tonight.  Most I pay online, but there are a few that I write a check for.  If I didn't have kids, and a million little things that they need at school that require a check, I could be almost completely paperless.

The question stumping me tonight is, why don't check printers put the first two numbers of the year date anymore?  Remember waaaaay back, when they printed this for the date line?
Date _________ 19___
It seems like it was about 1995 or 1996 when they stopped printing the '19'.  I remember thinking that some people must not go through too many checks if the stop date was 5 years prior to the new millenium.  
We have made it all the way to nearly 2011, but they haven't begun printing '20' on my checks, yet.  Have they on yours?  
A quick browse of online check purveyors and my bank's online reorder system yielded no help.  One site out of six showed check styles that had a pre-printed '20'.  
We all know how negligible the cost is to print 2 additional characters, so what factor led 99% of check printers to forgo the first two letters of the year?

December 8, 2010

Pickle in the middle

I keep hearing this phrase, 'govern from the middle'.  Depending on the day and the issue, both the left and right have called on the president to 'govern from the middle'.  Why?  As he has shown this week, when he plops himself down in the middle, everybody gets mad at him.  Of course, he was swinging with both fists, all directions, but still doing it from the 'middle'.

I heard someone on the radio say that it isn't even possible to govern from the middle and the times that a leader has seemed to do it, the citizenry was just not wise to the behind the scenes Beltway games that were really controlling the issues.

Do you think that is true?  Is political leadership only effective, and successful (for the politician) when there is always a group of people for you and another against you?  It smacks of the 'you can't please all of the people all of the time' adage.

I think I agree.

Many Americans don't know enough about the political decisions being made to have an educated opinion. Anyone want to take a stab at how many votes were cast for the sitting president, based solely on the color of his skin?  I know several people that assumed that Blowie stood for certain things because he is black.  Some of them blindly voted for him because of it.  Some voted against him because of it.  Neither is a good use of a vote.  Those people should just stay home on election day.

Isn't a politician, with any hope of continuing his career, better off only making one side mad?  When you try to govern from the middle, nobody is happy with you.

Who in the world is writing Blowie's speeches?

Well, Blowie sure seemed to screw the pooch yesterday, what with his big mouth and inability to be either a gracious winner or loser.  I am not sure what it is exactly that he is painting himself as, whatever he may think it is, it sure looks a lot like 'one-term president' to me.


At a time when he should have been trying to placate his base and, perhaps, admitting to be a bit beaten down by the opposition - OR - trying to look like a president that has moved to the middle a bit after the shellacking in November, yet he did none of it.  He attacked his liberal supporters and likened Conservatives to 'hostage takers'.

Despite the potential 'harm' and tumult that will come with no deal on the extension of the Bush tax cuts by Christmas Eve, I am hoping that the measure is voted down or changed so dramatically by the Dims that Repubs will change it in January.  I would love nothing more than seeing Pelosi and Reid wage war with their golden boy.  All of them are sanctimonious jerks who deserve every bit of egg that will be dripping from their faces at the end of January.

They put themselves in this corner, they made this bed.  Remember way back in March when Boehner begged to work on the tax extension, but the Dims wanted to delay it?  So much for riding the wave, guys.   

Mr Peeresident, you better get your act together and decide who it is that is going to support you in 2012, or no one will be supporting you.  No man is an island, Blowie.

While I wait for some tech savvy person to cobble together a video montage of all the times Blowie promised NOT to extend tax cuts for the 'rich', I will settle for posting our old friend Joe the Plumber, getting Blowie's explanation of his tax plan:

December 7, 2010

Pearl Harbor Day

Have you ever had a life experience so significant, that you would chose to be buried with the people who shared that day with you, some forty or fifty years later?  They never forgot, and neither should we.

Taken January 2010.  If you get the chance to visit Pearl Harbor, you must visit the Arizona Memorial.  When you get on the boat to head back to shore, get a seat on the back row so you can get this camera angle as you leave.

December 6, 2010

FOD fisking

Liberals believe he is an overcompromising wimp. (See blistering recent columns by progressive icons Paul Krugman and Frank Rich of the New York Times for a taste of what the left thinks of "their" President now.) 
Okay, let's have a look-see!

In an article entitled "All the President's Captors", Frank Rich uses a Stockholm Syndrome captor/hostage metaphor to describe Blowie's 'baffling presidency'.  A couple of fave quotes, note the descriptors that are now used by the MSM to describe their president:
This dynamic was acted out — yet again — in President Obama’s latest and perhaps most humiliating attempt to placate his Republican captors in Washington...
...Obama has seemingly surrendered his once-considerable abilities to act, decide or think...
...But they have waited in vain for him to stand firm on what matters to him and to the country rather than forever attempting to turn non-argumentative reasonableness into its own virtuous reward. It’s clear now the shellacking was not the hoped-for wake-up call.
Paul Krugman's article, coincidentally, also uses the word 'shellacking' - in the first sentence.
After the Democratic “shellacking” in the midterm elections, everyone wondered how President Obama would respond. Would he show what he was made of? Would he stand firm for the values he believes in, even in the face of political adversity?
On Monday, we got the answer: he announced a pay freeze for federal workers. This was an announcement that had it all. It was transparently cynical; it was trivial in scale, but misguided in direction; and by making the announcement, Mr. Obama effectively conceded the policy argument to the very people who are seeking — successfully, it seems — to destroy him...
...It’s hard to escape the impression that Republicans have taken Mr. Obama’s measure — that they’re calling his bluff in the belief that he can be counted on to fold. And it’s also hard to escape the impression that they’re right...
...What’s even more puzzling is the apparent indifference of the Obama team to the effect of such gestures on their supporters. One would have expected a candidate who rode the enthusiasm of activists to an upset victory in the Democratic primary to realize that this enthusiasm was an important asset. Instead, however, Mr. Obama almost seems as if he’s trying, systematically, to disappoint his once-fervent supporters, to convince the people who put him where he is that they made an embarrassing mistake.
Whatever is going on inside the White House, from the outside it looks like moral collapse — a complete failure of purpose and loss of direction...
...It would be much easier, of course, for Democrats to draw a line if Mr. Obama would do his part. But all indications are that the party will have to look elsewhere for the leadership it needs.
The Gray Lady would have considered such talk blasphemy a year ago.  

The Halperin article goes on to point out the other members of Blowie's 'coalition', that have seemingly begun to see the light:
The business community considers Obama ignorant about markets at best, a socialist at worst (O.K., some business people entertain an even harsher assessment). The media, after aiding and abetting his ride to the White House, now see the President as incompetent and overwhelmed. The independents and Republicans who backed him for office currently feel he is too liberal and too weak to do the job. These trends are all worse in Washington and among opinion leaders than they are in the country at large, but the views of elites are clearly shaping how the President is perceived by the nation in general.
I am not sure where Mr Halperin spends his time, but I have been told by the MSM, that the 'trends' that he mentions are worse in backwards conservative bastions like Texas and flyover country.  If Washington has turned on him, it is worse better than I thought.  There are no 'opinion leaders' or 'elites' shaping my perception of the president.  His policies and arrogant ignorance were quite enough.

December 4, 2010

Charles Manson has a better cell phone than me.

He really does.
Manson was caught with an LG flip phone under his mattress and had used it several times before officers discovered it, Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections told Fox 8 News.
I have a perfectly serviceable, though old, cellular phone. Not the touchscreen version, not GSM, not new or cool.  Mr Harper has a fancy touchscreen, movie watching, music playing phone - he recently traded in the Crackberry for it.  Boom has a touchscreen, slidey thing on which she texts until her fingers bleed.  I have my three year old phone with half of a case on it, because I dropped it once and broke off the front part of the case and it's nearly impossible to find accessories for old phones.
Manson made calls and sent text messages to people in California, New Jersey, Florida and British Columbia but it wasn't known if the calls were crime-related, Thornton said.
I call my husband, mom and school.  I text Boom if I need to tell her something during school hours.  Sheesh, who in the world is Manson talking to?  Who taught him to text?  It takes me 10 minutes to tap out a couple of sentences, and I have been exposed to the technology since its release AND have a teenager to show me the ropes.  Apparently Manson is smarter and has more friends than I do. 
I will admit that I am fairly protective of my cell number.  I don't want people I don't like to call me on it.  I just don't want to be that accessible.  Manson is calling people all over North America.  It cracks me up that the article says that they don't know if the calls were crime-related.  Are there people out there that miss old Charlie so much that they are in collusion to provide him with a cell phone, just to catch up on life?  Of course there is something, though likely some batshit crazy something, going on in the phone calls.
Officials say prisoners use smuggled cell phones for a range of criminal activity, including running drug rings and planning escapes. In some cases, prison guards have been accused of bringing the phones into prisons and selling them for as much as $1,000 a piece.
How, pray tell, do prisoners get their hands on $1,000? 
I guess guards smuggling in phones for prisoners to plan escapes with is just a creative way to ensure job security.  I can't fly to Austin without providing a peep show or easy feel for the TSA, why aren't security guards and everything else entering a prison, going through similar safeguards?
You'll feel better knowing that, for his infraction, Manson got another 30 days added to his sentence.   

December 3, 2010

The decorations go up and the political correctness runs amok

On the (dreaded but modestly enjoyable) field trip today, I brought along the short film "Merry Madagascar" for transit time entertainment.  This being in response to the little shite who jumped in my car on the last field trip and demanded to know what movies I had brought.  My family is more of a music and reading group, but the car is equipped with video equipment that we use on long trips.  This morning, I decided that 25 miles with 5 second graders qualified as a Long Trip.

One of the catch phrases in the movie is "Happy Julianuary", a play on Merry Christmas/Happy New Year, in the vein of the character "King Julian" from the movie franchise.  It is funny to say, based on a funny kid's movie plot and pokes fun at America's overboard sense of political correctness. 

Mr. Harper's company has an idiotic "Festivus" celebration each December.  I wouldn't care about the title if they really held to the tenets set forth on Seinfeld, specifically, the Airing of Grievances, but alas, they all need to keep their jobs and can't say what they really feel.  I usually get charged with purchasing a "white elephant" gift for their Chinese exchange.  Apparently, the Jewess who works in the HR department and insisted on changing the annual Christmas party and taking on the "Festivus" title, sees nothing offensive in promoting a gift exchange program that has nothing to do with Asian people and everything to do with taking away things that people like and have worked to get. I think it should be called a "Democratic Gift Exchange"

If you haven't guessed, I am a fan of 'Merry Christmas'.  I don't mind 'Happy Hanukkah'.  I'm not Jewish, but if someone were, and said it to me in passing, I would be pleased and filled with a Christmas-y/Hanukkah-y spirit of peace, goodwill and generosity.  Hell, we noticed back in October, that the 2nd was Canadian Thanksgiving Day and The Princess marched right up to her Canadian-born teacher and said, "Happy Thanksgiving, eh!" (The teach thought it was a hoot).  Didn't matter that our American celebration was seven weeks away, it was a kind gesture. 

Season's Greetings and Happy Holidays just don't do it for me.  Don't even start with the more recently made up crap like Kwanzaa.  If secular people are so offended by the ideas of these religious holidays, then they can back the fuck up and pick some other time of year to have their ostentatious gift giving gatherings.  Same thing goes for other religions/cults.  Seriously, what is the fascination with hijacking a time of year important to Christians and making it about anything else?  How arrogant is that?  There are 350 other days each year to have a secular holiday  (I took Easter out of the mix - and I know there are several important Jewish holidays, so I am rounding down to 350, out of respect).  Pick a different day.

At best, I would label myself a highly skeptical Christian leaning American.  Arguing with my pastors is one of my favorite pastimes. There is some higher power at work, I have seen and experienced things that simply have no other explanation, but, I have no need or desire to force my beliefs onto anyone else.  And there is no reason for a secular society to demean, devalue and water down a season that holds such great importance for so many American people. 

That said, this song makes me smile.

Pray for me

Second grade field trip this morning.  If I live through it and am not incarcerated by the end of the day, I will post later.

December 1, 2010

Is that a boot in your bra, or are you just happy to see me?

Um, ewww.
Cops in Edmond (OK) arrested Ailene Brown, 28, and Shmeco Thomas, 37, on suspicion of shoplifting after the pair allegedly stuffed $2,600 worth of footwear, denim and accessories under rolls of fat on their stomachs and beneath their breasts.
"These two individuals were actually concealing them in areas of their body where excess skin was, underneath their chest area and up around their armpits," Officer James Hamm told
Oh, Lord, please tell me the merchandise is in the Edmond, Oklahoma Police Department evidence locker and not back on the shelf at T.J. Maxx.
The suspects allegedly attempted to use their bodies to stash four pairs of boots, three pairs of jeans, as well as gloves and a wallet, according to
Two women, 8 boots, 3 pairs of jeans, gloves and a wallet, under 4 breasts and stomach fat?  The accompanying video details that one of the women had 3 PAIRS of the boots in her bra, under her breasts.  Just how large were these women?  

I cannot begin to imagine her defense.  "Your honor, my client is a large women suffering from macromastia.  She was in great discomfort from her breast burden and thought that propping them up with a couple three pair of Uggs would ease her pain."

Worst Song in History

Bob Geldolf would like to claim the prize for writing and recording the worst song in history, namely "Do They Know It's Christmas?"

I never liked the song, hate it now, hated it when it came out 26 years ago, hated it every Christmas season in between when radio and TV put it into heavy rotation.  But, worst song in history?  How could we even define it?  It was quite popular and commercially (charitably?) successful when released.  I submit that it is overplayed and aged now, but aren't we all at some point?

I tried to sit down and think of what I would consider to be the worst song in history.  That is much too broad a definition as well as being completely subjective.  There are entire genres that I don't listen to and I am sure they have some real stinkers.  There are genres that are quite narrow in their target audience and context.  There are garage bands churning out some absolute shite.  Let's just pretend that we are trying to put our finger on the song(s) that were widespread, mainstream and commercially successful when released but that are intolerable now.

"Achy Breaky Heart" is a commonly accepted example of a once-popular song that is cringe-inducing today.  Remember the radio stations that played it 24 hours a day?  I have never owned the song, but am pretty sure I know every word and probably a line dance to go with it.

Glancing over at my CD collection, I wonder how I ever listened to crap like "Lullaby" by Shawn Mullins.  Every once in awhile I will hear it on the radio and I will turn it up, start to sing along and then realize how awful it is.  I practically wore that track out when it was new.  Would just as soon use the CD for a coaster now.

"Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler.  Gah.  Memories of teenage girls clutching hair brushes like microphones, belting out every word, all five and a half minutes of that horrendous song.  What was the attraction?  I have an excuse, I was 13.  I shouldn't be surprised that the writer of the song is responsible for several other (IMHO) bombs - Jim Steinman wrote songs for Air Supply and Celine Dion.

I will say that I had a much better time at sleepovers when we sang Journey or AC/DC, or recited the intro to 'Number of the Beast'. (If you like Iron Maiden, hit that link, a recording from 2001 in Rio - it rocks).

There are some 'great' songs that I can't stand.  "Dust in the Wind" by Kansas and "God Bless the USA" by Lee Greenwood, for example.  Long stories, but I heard them a million times too many and can't stand them today.  I wonder if either song will ever come back into acceptance in my 'nostalgia' playlist.  Those being the songs that were good once, then fell out of my favor and are now retro-cool.  These are mostly hits from the 70's through the 90's that are part of the collective music memory of my youth.

I really can't narrow it down to one song, or even a dozen, that I would consider to be the sole designee of 'worst song in history'.  I could spend all day listing nominees, I mean, I didn't even mention any country or rap or bubble gum pop.  Can you name just one song worthy of the 'worst' title?