January 31, 2010

Sorry officer, the pedal stuck

Are Toyota owners running around the nation's roads, breaking the speed limit?  With Toyota recalling over 5 million cars for an accelerator pedal issue, wouldn't you think that Toyota owners were just handed the best, and arguably admissible in court, excuse for speeding-related traffic stops?

January 30, 2010

President Empty Suit

GOC announced his AOTW, the obvious choice being Obama.  Really, did anyone, left or right, see any substance in anything he said in his SOTU speech?

GOC ended his post with "Here's your award President Empty Suit" and I thought this graphic fitiing:


Graphic from here, as usual.  Excellent photoshoppery abounds.

January 29, 2010

Let me explain someting to youse

Mrs. Miller was my second grade teacher at Havencroft Elementary School in Olathe, Kansas.  We won't discuss the year.  Though I can't instantly recall a single classmate (need the prompt of yearbook pictures, I suppose), there are several things I remember about Mrs. Miller.  She had a son that was blind and on occasion brought items for us to see, like his braille watch.  She loved elephants.  She called the trash can "File 13", as in, "Pick up that scrap of paper and put it in File 13".  When we were slouching over our desks she would say, "Remember the Alamo", our signal to sit up straight and tall.  That one really cracks me up.  Not too many eight year old kids in the Kansas City area are familiar with the history of the Alamo.
One other distinct memory I have is a class discussion we had one day.  I don't remember what spurred it - if it was part of a teaching topic or just an answer to a question, but the resulting dialogue has stuck with me for all these years.  Mrs. Miller was explaining to us that the speech of midwesterners was considered to be the perfect accent and pronunciation for newscasters.  She told us about how people were trained to speak 'like us' for careers on camera.  What she was referring to is what linguists call the General American accent.  It was somewhat affirming to think that all those exotic people from the wilds of each coast had to learn to speak like me. 
A few years later I was spending the summer at my dad's house in Florida, New York.  At a party with local kids, we ended up sitting around a table giving each other words to pronounce, cackling at the result.  The Yankees loved to hear me say, 'doughnut'.  When they mimicked me, it sounded like, 'dowonut'.  I recalled for them my second grade linguistics lesson, explaining that my speech was preferred over theirs.  They weren't impressed and we haven't kept in touch.  My dad's name was Bob, my stepmother was Barb.  I never knew which one people were referring to in conversation as they both were pronounced 'Baahb'. 
I have now been in Texas for over twenty-five years.  'Y'all' and 'fixin' to' come out of my mouth occasionally, but usually in a manner that suggests their colloquialism.  What I have noticed is that the use of Texas-speak and a faint Southern drawl becomes more pronounced the further I travel from Texas.  I am not sure if it is wanting to be associated as being from Texas as a matter of pride, or just my way of saying, "I ain't from around here".
Some people just mispronounce words, IMO.  I don't think it has anything to do with accents dialects, they are just dead wrong.  I sat through a meeting the other night that initiated this train of thought.  First,  during a budget presentation I was listening to a CFO referring to the cents per valuation amounts as 'peenies' and then saying 'physical' instead of 'fiscal'.  Then I heard 'candidates' repeatedly referred to as 'cannadates'.  GMAB.
What are your speech pet peeves?

January 27, 2010

State of the Union

It doesn't matter what BHO says, the SOTU is a relative thing. I will read the transcript later. We turned the TV off about 2 minutes into the speech. I hadn't intended to watch any of it, but as the coverage began and the cameras were panning the room, my kids starting asking me questions and I never pass up the chance for an impromptu lesson on our government.
As I was naming those I recognized on the screen, I shared with my children that I wanted to see if I could figure out which member of the president's cabinet was not there. We discussed the "designated survivor" role during events when potentially all those in the line of presidential succession would be in the same place. My 12-year old, a boy, had a big time thinking up doomsday scenarios that would wipe out the whole room. Note to self: explain to #1 son the importance of getting some conservative politicians out of the room before the Airbender-esque destruction ensues.
Since I am waiting to read the transcript of the speech I couldn't watch, I had time to Google and discover that Shaun Donovan, HUD Secretary, was entrusted to run our country should calamity strike tonight.
Did you know that not all presidents delivered the SOTU speech in person?  President Thomas Jefferson changed course and had his private secretary deliver copies of the message to both houses of Congress, to be read by clerks in the House and Senate.  Jefferson wanted to simplify the ceremony because he believed that it imitated the British monarch’s Speech from the Throne, and thought it incompatible to a republic. He also had the common sense to realize that the speech and a response consumed valuable time during short legislative sessions.  This precedent lasted until 1913, when Woodrow Wilson appeared before Congress to deliver a special message on tariff and bank reform.  Hmmmm.  Go figure.
One last bit of SOTU trivia.  George Washington's first annual message contained 833 words and is estimated to have taken between four and seven minutes to deliver.  Those were the days.
So, yeah, I didn't watch but a couple of minutes, and this is all I've got to offer as official commentary on BHO's speech:



Graphic courtesy No Sheeples Here aka Mako Snark

I know a girl like that...

(765):

I woke up at 4am on the couch with half my clothes on. And by half my clothes I mean my earrings.

Texts from Last Night

January 26, 2010

The 100 Cheesiest Movie Quotes of All Time - NSFW

Seriously NSFW.

Not a definitive list, by any means - but entertaining. I didn't count, but guess that the California governor is the most frequent contributor in the video.



@1:46 is awesome, I must remember that the next time I attempt to get warranty service on my GM vehicle - never a pleasant experience.

H/T The Awesomer

January 25, 2010

Happy Anniversary to me...

Today is the eleventh anniversary of my twenty-ninth birthday.

One of the things nobody tells you about being a parent is how many heart-warming, yet stomach-turning meals you will choke down on various occasions.

My sweet 12-year old son cooked me breakfast before he went to school.  He presented me with a plate holding two scrambled eggs, two pieces of French toast (previously cooked and frozen by me) and a huge chocolate-chocolate chip muffin from Costco.  He wasn't disappointed that I offered him the muffin and settled for the eggs and toast.  We had a few minutes just the two of us before any one else woke up.  That was probably the best part of my day - glacial temperature of the eggs notwithstanding.

January 24, 2010

Ellie Light Update

UPDATED:  Ellie Light count is now at 62 publications in 29 states + D.C. and at least 2 foreign publications.  The number is multiplying too rapidly to keep updated.  Someone create an Ellie Light widget. Add Mark Spivey, another apparent pen name with identical op-ed letters showing up around the nation.  Now there are other suspicious letters, with two or more writers, that appear with the same verbiage in different cities across the U.S..  Hit the Patterico, Left Coast Rebel and Riehl World links for specifics and some info about the I.P addresses of comment-makers claiming to be Ellie Light.  These guys are doing the heavy lifting on this story...wonder when big media will pick this up?

Play the game!  Pick any phrase from any of the letters that have appeared and see where you can find them.  It took me all of about 30 seconds to discover that the Benson County Farm Press was a 'victim', printing both an Ellie Light and a Denzel Levett letter in the same issue (yet another pseudonym, the same exact letter can be found across the nation with other authors).  Think about that.  Based in Minnewaukan, North Dakota, population 318.  There were two letters to the editor in that edition, both astroturfing products.  Joe Farmer reads that two people have similar supportive views of BHO, sure, he can't figure out who these two people are that he hasn't ever heard of...but...but...at the next American Legion or Moose Lodge meeting, will he be as vocal about his political concerns?  Will he suddenly feel like maybe he is alone in his thinking?  Will he begin to second-guess what he thought he knew?  How many of these small town publications, WITHOUT ONLINE (SEARCHABLE) CONTENT, are out there?      

Patterico's Pontifications has an updated list of the places Ms Light's letter has appeared. Last count was 42 publications in 18 states and D.C.

A Facebook page has been setup. Here is Ms Light's profile picture:



Funny, huh?
Left Coast Rebel has some interesting commentary and reader submissions.  One recurring theme is that Ms Light is actually a journalist by the name of Samantha Power.

January 23, 2010

Will the real Ellie Light stand up

Many years ago, as a newly divorced single mom working two jobs (because that's what responsible people do to make ends meet), I was employed as a customer service representative.  My work varied from regular old complaint stuff to diagnostics of sophisticated printing systems.  It's funny how many callers found a way to abruptly end our conversations after I asked whether the machine was turned on, and whether or not the machine was plugged into an electrical outlet...cleaning crews notoriously knock plugs out of sockets and men apparently didn't want to admit they had overlooked something so basic.  Back on topic - after 'basic training' we learned about extra measures that we could take to keep our customers happy.  We had a gift closet and could smooth things over with a jelly and jam gift set, a corporate-branded umbrella, fountain pen, etc.  Accompanying these items was an apology letter signed by a fictitious VP of customer service.  As a naive twenty-something, I was surprised to learn that this was a common business practice, and if someone called asking for this person, they should be forwarded to my supervisor.  The actual VP couldn't be bothered to interact with the customers he was charged with keeping satisfied.
This memory came back to me after reading about a *person* named Ellie Light.  From The Plain Dealer, via cleveland.com:
In recent weeks, Light has published virtually identical “Letters to the Editor” in support of President Barack Obama in more than a dozen newspapers.Every letter claimed a different residence for Light that happened to be in the newspaper’s circulation area.
Light's letters have appeared in:
The Philadelphia Daily News
San Francisco Examiner
Mansfield News Journal(Ohio)
Ruidoso News
The Sun News (South Carolina)
Daily News Leader  (Virginia)
The Chillicothe Gazette  (Ohio)
The Weirton Daily Times  (West Virginia)
Bangor Daily News  (Maine)
Midland Daily News (Michigan)
Newton Daily News  (Ohio)
Daily American (Pennsylvania)
The Californian 
The reporter, Sabrina Eaton,  has an entertaining exchange with Ellie Light in the online comments at cleveland.com, in which she publishes the email exchange that the two had prior to the article being printed.  Ms Light denies being a reporter of the same name, claiming 'Ellie Light' is a common name (though US Census databases find one person with that name) and never answers the direct question of whether she sent all of the letters and lied about her residence in each one.  True to liberal form, Ms Light instead attacks the reporters choice of subject matter and throws in a jab at Sarah Palin for good measure.
Gateway Pundit chimes in  and has this most awesome graphic for Ms Light:

And Left Coast Rebel gets a comment from someone claiming to be Ms Light, this one basically insulting all bloggers and very confusing-ly seeming to misconstrue "Left coast" with "left-as-in-liberal":
I am ellie light and I work for no one. I find your assumptions to be insulting, as if no one could write to defend Obama unless employed by an organization. It is so easy for you bloggers to sit around in your pajamas and cast aspersion on everyone else. It's so easy to be snide, stand aside, act like you alone have the "pure" lefty agenda at heart, and denegrade everyone else's efforts. I remember people like you sitting along the gym fence in high school, spitting on the sidewalks, staring at girls and making snide remarks. Get out of your bedroom and go do something, instead of insulting others. Or is that beneath your "leftier-than-thou" image. yes, I think it surely is. .
What seems to be afoot here will prove to be even more entertaining as the days go by.  What some idiotic Obama supporter or staff member did; using the same pseudonym when sending letters to the editors of God knows how many newspapers, is now snowballing with untold numbers of idiotic BHO supporters claiming to be Ellie Light. You know the type, those who think that they possess the magic words to make the whole situation *right* again and save their leftist agenda.  It's like some convoluted reincarnation of "To Tell the Truth", except when it is time for the real Ellie Light to stand, all of the panelists, and the audience, claim to be her.

The newspapers that have published Light's letters also have some 'splainin' to do.  Is it possible that over a dozen papers managed to print an editorial that didn't include a street address (my local papers require both street address and phone number for verification)?  Is there a chance that some other strings were pulled to get the letters published?  How many more letters will be unveiled?  Is there a reason for where they were targeted?  Let's see how the dots begin to connect...

January 22, 2010

Dead Air



For more snarky photoshops and witty commentary, check out No Sheeples Here.

January 21, 2010

Name that party

My friend GOC is still recuperating, so I will play one of his favorite games: 'Name That Party'. The 'offender' in this case is Fox News.  Can you find mention of this dirtbag's political affiliation from the article?
Former presidential candidate John Edwards has admitted fathering his former campaign videographer's child.

In a statement released to NBC News, Edwards said, "I am Quinn’s father. ... It was wrong for me ever to deny she was my daughter and hopefully one day, when she understands, she will forgive me."

Friends of the family said that Edwards and wife, Elizabeth, have separated, NBC reported.

The admission comes after months of denials from Edwards that he fathered former mistress Rielle Hunter's daughter, Frances Quinn. The revelation also comes a week before his former campaign aide, Andrew Young, is set to appear in an ABC News interview saying he posed as the father when the scandal first broke as a favor to Edwards.

The two-time presidential candidate also admitted to providing financial support to the child and said in the statement that he has "reached an agreement with her mother to continue providing support in the future."

"To all those I have disappointed and hurt these words will never be enough, but I am truly sorry," Edwards said.

Young's interview is scheduled to air on ABC next Friday, but may be pushed forward.

Previous reports have claimed that a secret DNA test proved Edwards' paternity to the child.

The test was taken after Hunter tried to get financial help from Edwards for Frances.

Edwards admitted in August 2008 to an affair with Hunter that he says ended in 2006. That year, Edwards' political action committee paid Hunter's video production firm $100,000 for work. Then the committee paid another $14,086 on April 1, 2007.

A federal grand jury last year investigated whether Edwards broke campaign finance law by paying "hush" money to Hunter and Young over the affair.

January 20, 2010

Some friendly advice

As the mother of four children (five if you count the one I married), the first rule of parenting that I generally adhere to is to NOT offer unsolicited advice.  Today is the exception.
This is for the lovely, 20-something gentleman at the Barnes & Noble Cafe in Southlake, Texas, this morning.  Thanks to your louder than normal telephone speaking voice, all patrons were made well aware of your 'situation'.  By that I mean, we all heard you chatting on the phone with your buddy about the little girl in your charge, your fiance's niece.  You are, no doubt, correct in your thinking that the fiance arranged the "spend the day with future-uncle" outing to feel out your parenting potential.  At the time, you seemed equal to the task and rather confident of your abilities.
As you have no doubt discovered by now, parenting requires constant vigilance.  When you are chatting on the phone or thumbing through a magazine, you must not turn your back on a little one.  What we, the other patrons of the cafe, witnessed this morning, which you have certainly seen the effects of by now, was that darling little doe eyed creature scoffing at her organic chocolate milk box and instead, slurping your quad shot, four pump soy mocha every time your attention was diverted.  Nice of you to get it iced, at least she didn't burn her tongue.

Nobamacare

I am left wondering, whose common sense and integrity did Mr. Frank borrow to come up with this statement?
“I have two reactions to the election in Massachusetts. One, I am disappointed. Two, I feel strongly that the Democratic majority in Congress must respect the process and make no effort to bypass the electoral results. If Martha Coakley had won, I believe we could have worked out a reasonable compromise between the House and Senate health care bills. But since Scott Brown has won and the Republicans now have 41 votes in the Senate, that approach is no longer appropriate. I am hopeful that some Republican Senators will be willing to discuss a revised version of health care reform because I do not think that the country would be well-served by the health care status quo. But our respect for democratic procedures must rule out any effort to pass a health care bill as if the Massachusetts election had not happened. Going forward, I hope there will be a serious effort to change the Senate rule which means that 59 votes are not enough to pass major legislation, but those are the rules by which the health care bill was considered, and it would be wrong to change them in the middle of the process.”    - Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass)
And, just because it feels so nice, a few more quotables from "D"s
"...only be fair and prudent that we suspend further votes on health care legislation until Brown is seated."   - Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA)
"It wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to take a step back and say we're going to pivot, do a jobs thing, and try to include some health care things as a part of that," he said. "If we were struggling and making the bill worse with a 60-vote Senate majority, I don't see how we make it better with 59."  -Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY)
 "If she loses, it's over,"    -Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan)

January 19, 2010

Revolution

Obamacare....buh-bye
Cap and Trade...buh-bye

You want to pick that "he has to be qualified before he can vote in the Senate" fight...bring it.  I really wish you would try to force Obamacare through before Brown is seated.  That would guarantee conservative landslide victories in the midterm elections, and seal BHO's fate as a one term president. 



The Boston Globe has a great graphic of the town by town results
. Never seen Massachusetts so red.

Double Jerry Jeff Truck Bomb

Joining Leslie's truck bomb bonanza with some Texas music. A bona fide truck song:



A truck is mentioned a couple of times in this song, and the spirit of it is appropriate to the occasion:



Go, Scott, go.

I love these Fox News photo shop contests. This is from Greg Campbell and www.Choppix.com.


 

January 17, 2010

Thoughts and Prayers

Whatever your gesture of choice may be, please do it now on behalf of a much loved friend and blogger, GOC.

Most of you would still be strangers to me if it weren't for Denny's blog.  So, keep him in your thoughts, prayers, hell - voodoo is fine if it will make him feel better.  Get Well Soon GOC.

January 16, 2010

Employment numbers


We are in trouble...

The population of this country is 300 million.
160 million are retired..
That leaves 140 million to do the work.
There are 85 million in school.
Which leaves 55 million to do the work.
Of this there are 35 million employed by the federal government.
Leaving 20 million to do the work.
2.8 million are in the armed forces.
Which leaves 17.2 million to do the work.
Take from that total the 15.8 million people who work for state and city Governments.
And that leaves 1.4 million to do the work.
At any given time there are 188,000 people in hospitals.
Leaving 1,212,000 to do the work.
Now, there are 1,211,998 people in prisons.
That leaves just two people to do the work.
You and me.
And there you are,
Sitting on your ass,
At your computer, reading jokes..
Nice.   Real nice.

January 15, 2010

Despite initial signs of compassion, the status quo prevails

Despite BHO's pledge of full support to Haiti, his request of former president George W Bush to help with fund raising for Haitian relief efforts and Bill Clinton's passionate pleas for support of Haiti, it seems like it is politics as usual in D.C..
In between teary-eyed on-camera interviews about Haiti, Mr. Clinton will make two campaign appearances for Martha Coakley, the democrat running for Ted "it sure is hot down here" Kennedy's Senate seat.  Appearances made necessary by the fact that Scott Brown, a Republican, is poised to win a seat not held by a Republican since 1956.  Go, Scott!
While we are inundated with Haiti earthquake coverage (meaning our attention is diverted), BHO is  napping today after his late night deal making with union leaders.  "...The president left the Cabinet Room meeting shortly after 1 a.m. Friday and the session ended about 25 minutes later....The breakthrough announced Thursday was a bi-product of the previous days talks: a deal on so-called "Cadillac" insurance plans. The White House and top union leaders heralded the agreement, which shields all union workers for five years from significant taxes on health benefit packages that non-union workers will face starting in 2013....The union deal exempts all workers covered by collective bargaining agreements from any excise tax on health benefits until 2018, five years later than non-union workers."  Momma always said nothing good happened after midnight.  Thanks for that transparency, Blowhole. 

January 14, 2010

Charity Begins at Home

This picture is making the e-mail circuit. I have received a couple slightly different versions of the text accompanying it. (I am constantly amazed by the professional, smart, educated people I know that have not yet learned how to check Snopes prior to forwarding e-mails).  Here is a news story about the wounded soldier.  


The photo is authentic and does show the former president and Laura visiting MAJ Randy Royer, who was wounded in the Fort Hood massacre.  This photo validates the narrowly reported fact that the Bushes quietly went to Fort Hood immediately after the shootings.  No camera crews, no reporters in the room.  This photo was taken with MAJ Royer's wife Trish's cell phone camera.  She sent the photo to a couple of family members, and it has snowballed from there.  Yes, this soldier was also visited by BHO, days later.  BHO's advisers were sharp enough to realize the crucifixion that would occur should the anointed one not walk in W's footsteps.  For me, this serves as another bullet point in the sitting president's track record of reaction time to events that affect the American people versus his international audience.  Kerrcarto is much more pointed in his thoughts on the subject.   
While the earthquake in Haiti is a horrendous tragedy, such occurrences remind me that we seldom throw the "full support" of the United States behind everyday needs here at home.  What will it take for our government and the American people, to rally around our own needs?

January 13, 2010

RIP Leslie Scribner

A lovely soul was lost Monday.
In the most polite terms one would say that Leslie Scribner was "different".  I never had the opportunity to do more than smile, nod or wave as we drove by him walking. 
The first time we saw him he had a yellow Tonka dump truck that he was pulling behind him.  He had decorated it with stickers and a small American flag that flew from the top.  The bed of the truck was filled with other small toys.  Since his death, we have learned much more about him and what he did with the toys he was always seen with. 
Perhaps most amazing is the number of lives this man touched, seemingly without knowing it.  I doubt that he had ever heard of Facebook, but he has become a rock star on that site over the past two days.  I hope that Mr. Scribner died with some idea of the, now approaching, 2,000 people who considered him a friend.  Facebook tribute page here.

Tiger shark attack


January 11, 2010

FOD Hawaiian-style

Obama items were few and far between on the Big Island and Maui. There were some Obama bobble heads tucked amongst the hula girl bobbles, deep in souvenir territory at the ABC Stores.  Oahu, specifically the Honolulu area, was a bit more saturated.  Not sure if it was actual support or due to the fact that the anointed one was on the island at the time.  I saw lots of Obama paraphernalia there - luckily our time there was brief.

Despite the very unflattering camera angle, I just have to post this picture.  Walking back to our hotel from dinner and window shopping around Waikiki Beach Walk, this cardboard cutout was on the sidewalk.  I couldn't resist.


January 9, 2010

Hell (and North Texas) Freezes Over

On any given day, over the past 20+ years, if you had asked me who my favorite football team was, you would have heard, "The Washington Redskins and whoever is playing the Cowboys".
Well, the Skins are failing miserably due to the ownership (and now, the recent coach pick) and their season was over weeks ago.
Spitgate prevents me from supporting the Eagles, despite my long-held hatred for the 'Boys.
That coupled with the fact that my young daughter's best friend's dad is on the Cowboys coaching staff. He's a really, really nice guy. His wife is just as nice, smart, pretty and friendly. Their girls are adorable. There is nothing not to like about them, choice of employer aside. His contract is up this year, so the unspoken fear is that unless the team does well, he might be done in Dallas. It would break my little girl's heart to lose her BFF.
So, as North Texas remains frozen, hell freezes over right along with it - Harper is cheering for the Cowboys.

The Punchbowl

One of our last stops in Hawaii was the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, commonly known as The Punchbowl.  The cemetery is in a volcanic crater, with severely sloping sides that make it look like a bowl.  Here is a view looking back toward the front gate with Honolulu in the distance:



It is hard to see from the picture, but all of the grassy area in the center and beyond the trees on each side contain rows of graves with ground level markers.  These are the some of the older graves.  The outside areas are newer and we were pleasantly surprised at how often-visited it looked.  We were there on a Sunday and there were many families in attendance.


The monument is quite nice, with military campaign maps made of tile mosaics that showcase the campaigns of the wars of those interred at the cemetery. They have graves and memorials for WWII, Korea and Vietnam. The stairs up to the monument are flanked by large panels that bear the names of service members, the location of their "earthly resting place is known only to God". Most are obviously sailors and Marines who were lost at sea. We loved reading the different job titles listed with each name.




January 8, 2010

Forget the blue suede shoes...

...no one could fill a pair of leather pants like Elvis.
Today would have been Elvis' 75th birthday. I love his music, not in a fanatical, Franklin Mint Plate Collector kind of way, but with a great appreciation of what he accomplished. My kids are fond of the 'died on his throne' summary of his death, which works for me as it serves as a convenient drug abuse consequences reminder. I remember with distinct clarity the day Elvis died, where I was, what I was doing. It might have been due to the reactions of the adults around me, though I like to believe that I understood the magnitude of the loss, even as a child.
I sometimes wonder what else Elvis would have accomplished, had he lived a longer life. Maybe we were deprived of some great music, or maybe we are saved from the Elvis Indian-casino tour. I stumbled across an old article on aging rock stars, focused on Dylan, McCartney, Jagger, Richards and Clapton. The subtitle asks if anyone over 50 is worth listening to. The article was written in 1993, yet I think all of those guys are still touring now, seventeen years later. The quote that caught my eye was Robert Frost's, "What to make of a diminished thing?" What to make, indeed. I prefer to remember this Elvis:

Tide Rolled

The hubby and I had a spirited discussion during the fourth quarter last night.  He, being a high school QB with unrealized dreams of playing pro ball, me, a realistic cynic.  My position was that some part of Colt, even if it was a tiny little part, would be somewhat pleased that his team couldn't win without him.  The hubby insisted that it was all about the team and McCoy would take absolutely no pleasure in his team's loss.
Is anyone really that completely selfless?, I argued.  I got a lengthily dissertation on the joys of "team".  I think Colt is a good guy and all, I just think that the majority of people would get a little spark of validation when their team couldn't succeed without them.  I got elbowed repeatedly during McCoy's tearful on-field interview.    
We were at an impasse, so I ended the argument by saying that while Colt was a good guy, not everyone can be Tim Tebow.

January 7, 2010

The first few days

We spent the first few days on the Big Island.  Day one we saw our first Hawaiian rainbow of the trip.  This was the only day that there was any rain during the day, and it was only a light mist for about 15 minutes.  The rest of the trip we had ideal weather...


Our first day included a visit to 'Akaka Falls State Park

We stayed on Hilo, the windward side, while on the big island of Hawaii. Hilo gets up to 150 inches of rain each year while the leeward side, the Kona coast, gets around 10 inches or rain.  This makes the windward side very lush and tropical - just what you expect of Hawaii. 
Our decision to stay in Hilo was based solely on the fact that it is nearest the current visible flow of lava.  In Volcanoes National Park, we stood among steam vents, billowing up from cracks in the earth.  It is kind of cool, while being slightly terrifying at the same time.  Everywhere you go in the park, there are dire warnings about the unpredictability of the volcano, yet they allow visitors to get pretty stinkin' close to things.  Granted, you can't openly walk out on the still-cooling lava as in years past, but the barriers that are supposed to prevent it aren't more than a string of wire. Here's a steam vent:


To see the flowing lava, you have to exit the national park and drive 45 miles to where the lava is entering the ocean.  The drive involves passing a huge sign that says the road ends, is closed, trespassers will be prosecuted, etc.  The state erected the sign where lava crossed the highway some years ago.  Every guidebook and the national park rangers tell you to go past the signs.  It is apparently the state's feeble attempt to protect themselves from liability claims.  You drive across a bumpy single-lane path carved from where the lava crossed the highway, then there is a patch of clear road, more lava, clear road, then all lava.  I was amazed at the new houses that are built right on the lava.  There are two (in)famous subdivisions that were destroyed by the lava in the 90's.  There are probably a couple dozen houses right out in the middle of the lava fields, and as many "for sale" signs stuck in the black rock.  The road ends where the park service has flattened a patch of lava for a parking lot.  You have to hike about a mile and a half to the viewing area.  While guidebooks and the park tell you to bring flashlights and water for the austere conditions, capitalism has sprung up with vendors selling those items, as well as espresso, shave ice, fruit, photographs, and other assorted souvenirs. Once it is full dark, the lava can be seen hitting the water and splashing up red against the night sky.  Awesome experience.  Hiking back a mile in pitch black night, across lava, not so fun, but still worth it.

 

We stayed at a wonderful little hotel called the Dolphin Bay.  This is not a hotel for luxury travelers, nor is it a hostel.  It appears to be a converted apartment building.  It is near historic downtown Hilo, with easy access to the highways that you travel to all the sights.  Each room has a small kitchen and the unit we were in can accommodate up to seven people.  I think they advertise it as six, but it had two queen size beds and three twins.  An excellent hotel for people who like to get out and do things, not sit in the hotel all day.  The kitchen has a stove, oven, microwave and fridge, so full meals "in" are a possibility.  The real asset at the Dolphin Bay is the owner/staff.  They are better than any tour company, guidebook or Google search.  They ask how much time you have and what your priorities are, then give you a detailed map, itinerary , restaurant and store suggestions (as well as 'must miss' warnings) and supplies for your day of exploring.  We set out for our volcano/lava viewing with a bag of flashlights for the hike - they even provided extra batteries.  They also have Kona coffee each morning with the most delicious coconut pastries.  The owner is an early riser, getting the coffee going by 5:30am, which was perfect as we were not yet adjusted to the time change and wide awake well before we needed to be! They also have unlimited free, fresh papaya and bananas from trees in their gardens.  The kids loved picking their own bananas.  We had fresh red anthurium flowers throughout our unit, at first glance we all thought they were artificial, they were so bright, glossy and perfect.  Yet another item from the hotel gardens.
The Big Island has been invaded by non-native Coqui frogs.  I first experienced these noisy little buggers in Puerto Rico a couple of years ago.  They make a distinctive whistling/chirping sound.  The first couple of days in Puerto Rico, I thought the noise was from the resort playing a recording of tropical bird song, since the noise was constant and seemed to be coming from speakers nestled among the landscaping.  The frogs are tiny, and I have yet to see one - but they are noisy.  The hotel didn't have a/c, which isn't a issue as far as temperature, but having the windows open with the noisy frogs bothers some people.  For me, I was immediately aware of the frogs when they stopped making noise and went to sleep for the night.  I sat bolt up in bed about 1:30 am because it was suddenly quiet!   

January 5, 2010

Surfer Girls (and a boy)

I am pleased and proud to announce that I stood up on every wave that I was pushed into. I say 'pushed' because that was one of my surf instructor's tricks. Rather than a nerve-wracking build up to the moment, he would calmly be talking about visualizing your path, feeling the wave, etc. He was a native Hawaiian that started surfing at age 4 and he was very spiritual about the ocean and the power of positive thinking. So, he would be chatting with me about the waves and suddenly he would spin my board around, push me into the wave and yell, "GO!". The surf school photographer insisted that we all throw the "shaka" (hang loose) sign when we got up, thus the goofy pose. If you are ever in Maui, I would highly recommend Goofy Foot Surf School. I imagine the personnel rotates a bit as the surfers chase waves around the world, but it wouldn't hurt to ask for Bully or Luke.



I was a little nervous about my petite little 6-year old learning to surf, until I met Bully. Here they are together:




And the teenager, who both surfed and appreciated the surfer boy views:



And number one son, who surfs Goofy Foot, with his right foot out front:



January 4, 2010

Home, at last.

I can't remember whose idea it was to catch a red-eye flight home after a two-week vacation, but I wouldn't recommend it. American Airlines/DFW airport didn't see fit to have baggage handlers available to unload our plane at 5 am. The luggage carousel didn't start spitting out bags until after 6am.
It is hard to believe that just 24 hours ago I was standing over the sunken remains of the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  Even harder to believe that I didn't end up in jail calling Dog to bail me out...
I don't know if it is the passage of time or the (often-times misplaced) American spirit of forgiveness, but we seem to have forgotten what happened in Hawaii on December 7, 1941.  I cannot comprehend why Japanese tourists feel compelled to visit Pearl Harbor, and why red-blooded Americans tolerate their behavior.  I am talking about herds of pushy Japanese people, yakking away on their cell phones,  who elbow folks like me out of the way so they can pose, with a big cheesy grin, next to various artifacts of the attack that left over 2,000 Americans dead at the hands of the Japanese.
Evidently, a rhinestone encrusted Hello Kitty t-shirt and hooker high heels are the appropriate outfit for a war memorial.  I need to make a note of that as I plan a trip to Hiroshima.
If a group of Muslims dropped to their prayer mats at Ground Zero or the Fort Hood massacre site, do you think anyone would say anything to them?  Has the sting just worn off of Pearl Harbor?  Is it the apology president?  I realize that I wear my patriotism on my sleeve, but I was not the only person getting pushed around and I heard several other people comment on the crass and inappropriate behavior exhibited by some of the Japanese visitors.
I think the one thing that I missed out on is the one thing that kept me from coming completely unhinged at the site; there are currently three Pearl Harbor survivors that routinely volunteer at the memorial, none of them were there yesterday during the time period that I was.  If I had seen some arrogant Japanese person pose for a photo next to a survivor, I would have been led out in handcuffs.
I am glad to be home and have pictures and more stories to tell as soon as I am coherent.