April 30, 2010

Where the sidewalk ends, the music begins

Some people sing in the shower.  I sing along with my iPod while I mow the yard.  I figure the mower noise drowns out the majority of my caterwauling.  My kids tell me that they can tell that I am singing, but it is in bits and pieces as I drive by.  One of my neighbors recently sold her place, and I haven't met the new folks yet.  Thanks to my mower-concert, it might not happen anytime soon.  New guy was standing in his driveway, conversing with his remodeling contractor.  As I passed by, they both whipped around with the strangest look on their face.  I think they thought I was talking to them, but then realized I was singing.  The lyric as I passed was, "...I've got a freaky old lady name o' Cocaine Katy who embroiders on my jeans...".  One can only hope that they are Dr. Hook fans.



Millions of dollars spent on modern-day musical manipulation devices, yet a key verse in this song is sung through a 25 cent bandana.

April 29, 2010

Just don't vomit on your test booklet

H2O commented about me baking cookies for my kids during TAKS testing this week. Here is the actual email that my 6th grader's teacher sent out.
"...Please make sure your student eats a non-sugar breakfast before coming to school. Please allow your student to bring a bottle of water and their choice of candy for use during breaks. Nourishing snacks will also be useful..."
That had me rolling on the floor!  Feed them well at home, but send sugary crap so we can keep them on a sugar high through the tests.  I agreed to bake cookies for my kids, just for making it through this week.  They aren't at all stressed out by the tests, but the adults make them nervous with all of their dithering about it.  
Bear in mind that this school is in no way, shape or form as frenzied as many school districts are about TAKS testing.  My kids don't do any practice or benchmark testing, no tutoring for TAKS, no test strategy sessions.  I have a friend who is a middle school English teacher in another district.  Her school has had horrible math TAKS scores, so she is required to spend 5 - 10 minutes of her English class time each day, doing a math problem with the class.  Many districts do benchmark tests and then have required after school tutoring for kids that they don't think are going to pass.  Funny how they don't take similar action on their regular lesson plans.  
My teenager had a horrible row with a teacher over TAKS a few years ago.  The school taught the kids some ridiculous methods for taking the tests.  In this case, for the reading TAKS test, the kids were supposed to read the passage, underline key points and then draw symbols like smiley faces and light bulbs for thoughts and ideas.  This is a kid who was reading at a 12th grade level in 6th grade.  She told the teacher it wasn't helpful to her, but he actually took points off of her practice tests because she wouldn't do it.  On TAKS day, she finished her test and when she turned it it, he flat out told her she was going to fail for finishing too quickly and not making the smiley faces and light bulbs.  I would like to have read his mind when he had to present her with a Commended Performance medal for a perfect score.
Our former school district pulls out all the stops - they send home blank note cards and ask parents to write encouraging notes that are given to students during the tests.  They plan elaborate snacks, make seat cushions, give all the kids new pencils and erasers, give out medals for good scores, etc.  All so the little kiddies will pass a standardized test.  If (qualified) teachers were simply allowed to teach, these kids would be just fine without coaching or bribery.  The bottom fell out when our government and society started expecting schools to be parents, social workers, therapists, behavior modifiers, nutritionists and psychologists.
H2O said her school has a "sick room" for kids to take the test.  Holy Crap!  So, on TAKS days, it is apparently okay to disregard district policy and kids' health?  Granted, my kid had a garden variety cold - but what about more serious/contagious stuff?  Do the administrators draw straws to see who has duty in that room?  Yuck.  I would show up in a Haz-Mat suit.
The one really smart thing our school does is plan field trips for the little kids on TAKS days.  My 1st grader went to the zoo on Tuesday, the 2nd graders went to a nature center yesterday and the kindergartners are headed out today.  The drop in the overall noise level is tremendous!

April 28, 2010

Ask me, I can prove it

What is the issue with Arizona's law granting their state's law enforcement officers to ask people if they are United States citizens?  Profiling?  GMAFB.  My family travels to Big Bend National Park often.  There is an immigration check point that we have to go through when we come back north.  My family couldn't be any more white - Mr. Harper is a fair skinned ginger, I have four blondish to brownish haired, blue-eyed kids.  Every single time we stop, we are asked if everyone in the vehicle is an American citizen.  This does not offend me.  I realize that Americans come in all shapes, sizes and colors.  I don't try to second guess the methods. I don't wonder if the officer is thinking we are Norwegian, Irish or South African travelers.  I do not assume that the officer is being obtuse, sarcastic or illogical.  I assume that he is doing his job. 
I have traveled all across Europe, Mexico, South Korea and parts of the Middle East.  Most of their border checkpoints are much more intimidating than any I have encountered in the USA.  This is a North Korean soldier watching my group through the window, as I stood on the North Korean side of a conference room in the Joint Security Area of the DMZ.  Intimidating?  No.  I was visiting and "in" his country legally.  I answered all questions asked about me honestly, showed my passport and military I.D. without complaint or second thought.  Why in the hell should it be any different here?


Of course the impetus behind the current backlash is powered by the Latino culture.  Arizona's illegal immigration numbers from Mexico crossings are skyrocketing because Texas has cracked down due to the drug gang violence.  I think our nation has proven - repeatedly - that profiling is a necessary and useful tool in certain situations.  If Mexicans are crossing into our country illegally, then it will cause some inconvenience for those here legally.  If there was a female, 5'3" blonde, SUV driving serial killer running loose - I would suffer the questions and inconvenience at the similarities.  Ultimately it might mean getting a dangerous person off the streets.  There are dangerous illegals and there are benign ones that still cause me harm financially.  Neither should be in my country. 

Currently, Mexican illegal immigrants are an issue for many border states.  If the issue were some other nationality, I would expect some measure of "profiling"-based citizenship questions, when the person is detained for some other reason.  No one is advocating that people get stopped or questioned just because they look to be of a certain ethnic group.  If you are pulled over for speeding and don't speak English, I think it is acceptable for an officer to ask if you are a legal resident of the U.S. 
Plain and simple - illegal means illegal.  If you are here legally, you have nothing to fear from this or any other law that asks the citizens to prove their status.  Only the sheepish kid with crumbs around his mouth fears being questioned about the empty cookie jar. 

April 27, 2010

Chores

I wonder what it means that I have become content to live with small things - inconveniences and repairs left undone.  Maybe it is simply a commentary on how busy our lives get as we get older.  Maybe it is the size of my family and the breadth of responsibilities.  Who knows?  I suppose it is some small comfort that I am not happy with this state of affairs, but I am no more motivated to cross off every little thing on my home repair list.  I would rather enjoy my kids as they grow and worry about the spotless house and perfectly manicured lawn later. 
I built some shelves in the garage this weekend, but it took forever! I have a Makita drill that is about 10 years old.  The two original batteries quit charging last year.  I found a replacement, but it was $40 - which is why I only have one.  I really love my drill, but I need to either bite the bullet and buy another battery, or a new drill.  Newer drills are so much lighter...but I am comfortable with the old one, and the weight builds muscle, right?  Anyway, when I am in the middle of a drill-intensive project like building garage shelves, I have to take a break every hour or so, while the battery charges. 
The shelves turned out nice, I am now putting up some re-purposed closet shelving that was taken down during our remodel.  I am putting up the shelves to hold all the other stuff that I saved from the remodel, like more shelving - and yards and yards of new trim boards that went unused.  The newly built shelves are being used for the things we used to store in the attic.  It is just too darn hot up there, and even the plastic Rubbermaid tubs were breaking down from the heat.  I'm no tree hugger, but I am pretty proud that I just recycled stuff I already had to build these awesome shelves.  I  just ripped some plywood I had in the garage, used 2x2s for cleats, 2x3s as I-beams and 2x4s for support legs.  Yeah, I'm handy like that.

April 26, 2010

Monday again

I haven't been sleeping well.  This morning I woke up at 3 am and never could get back to sleep.  Makes for long days.

This week Texas schoolchildren take their state mandated standardized tests, known as TAKS.  True to form, we have some sort of bug going around our house.  I kept one kid home today, dosing him up with various over the counter remedies, in hopes that he will be well enough to go to school for the tests tomorrow.  If not, I will be the recipient of many nosy phone calls and emails.  Perhaps I should just bottle some of the junk he is coughing up and send it to them.

Lovely weather today.  It has been an unusual spring for us.  Usually we literally switch the heater off and the a/c on in the same day.  I have had the HVAC system off for three weeks.  The temperatures have been great, cooling the house sufficiently (but not too cold) at night and lasting throughout the mild afternoons we have been having.  Much cooler than it normally is by late April.  The best part is the absence of the rapidly spinning disc on my electric meter.  I can't wait to see the next bill. 

I have ovens full of Snickerdoodles, by request for TAKS day snacks.  Gotta run get them out.

April 24, 2010

Muddy weekend

We had a brief thunderstorm last night. I have one child who can - and does - sleep through anything. She always has. Our former home was in a run-of-the-mill subdivision, with 10,000 square foot lots. Our house sat about 40 feet back from the road. Her bedroom was on the street side of the house, with her bed situated right next to three large windows. Our across the street neighbor's garage caught fire one night. The parade of emergency vehicles never caused her to stir. The big fire engine actually parked right in front of her windows. Sirens, people shouting, pump noise - she was completely unaware.

Needless to say, the other three kids don't sleep so soundly during the storm last night.  I spent a couple of hours comforting, sharing my bed and then carrying various children back to their rooms. Little sleep, but sometimes getting to snuggle up to kids who aren't still so much anymore, is well worth it.

The rain delays yard work, which I much prefer over house work. The weather dampens the excitement about the Denton Arts & Jazz Festival. It will be a muddy mess out there all weekend. Luckily, Chick Corea played last night before the rain, as did the UNT One O'Clock Lab Band. The only other band I would like to see is the closer on Sunday - Brave Combo.  Nothing like seeing a crowd of young, old, sober and not, attempting a polka, cha cha or the Hokey Pokey at a Combo concert.

April 22, 2010

Bring back phone booths

Would have had an enjoyable lunch today, were it not for a guy just like this at a neighboring table:

Moonbats

I don't know what it is, but I am blaming it on the state of our government. Maybe it is a vampiresque kind of epidemic. I would like to believe that something, other than stupidity, is causing the situation. More and more people that I deal with on a daily basis are becoming moonbats. I am used to people having a different opinion, different political views, different value system and I have known the occasional bona fide crazy person. Recently, I am coming face to face with an increasing number of people that combine all of those traits into one wingnut of a person, who are also smugly arrogant and think they know everything. Oh, and they are never wrong.
I have been trying to finalize what should have been a very simple little property acquisition. (I don't want to be specific, as it hasn't happened yet and the moonbat just might be hacking into my computer to check up on me). The person that currently possesses the property is bat shit Crazy. One day she's all peaches and cream, the next day screaming at me about what I have done or not done - none of which was what we agreed to on the previous day. I would have ditched the whole thing weeks ago except it is something for my kids, and this person is the relative of a friend.
I tend to get a little wacko when people accuse me of things that I can easily refute and have the documentation and witnesses to back it up. I immediately go into that mode, wanting to prove why I am right and she is loco. Of course, that kind of mentality does no good outside of a court room - and wouldn't convince a moonbat anyway. I also prefer to NOT deal in emotions. A business transaction should be just that - let's deal in facts and figures, not marshmallow clouds and unicorns.
I might not be quite so bothered by this situation, except that it so closely mirrors the general feeling of helplessness and hopelessness that I feel about the state of America. There is a giant group of moonbats running our country into the ground. I just can't comprehend how so many educated people can ignore common sense, simple math, historical data and the naked truth - and continue to make ridiculous decisions that will affect our country for generations. I realize that I have a vote, and I intend to use it as wisely as possible. But, just like the moonbat I am dealing with, I feel like it doesn't matter what I say or do, she - and our government - will continue on regardless of my actions.
Wasn't our country founded on principles that were to preserve and protect the individual? To free us from feeling helpless about our own futures? To allow us to make decisions for ourselves?

April 20, 2010

April 19, 2010

Rainy days and Mondays

On this rainy-but-clearing Monday in north Texas, I am plotting my NASCAR-traffic avoidance strategies for the remainder of my day.  Unfortunately, our weather was cruddy all weekend, delaying the races until today.  Even more unfortunate is that Texas Motor Speedway lies between my house and the kids' school.  They are running a 'doubleheader', one race after another today.  As long as everyone stays for that second race, I am golden. 

My 3-year old and I spent about half an hour being entertained by a pair of roadrunners this morning as they were engrossed in a mating ritual, dancing around, preening and squawking at each other.  Not the Looney Tunes variety, the real ones:


The two in our yard are BIG and FAST.  It is odd that the dogs seem oblivious to them.  Maybe they are enjoying the show as well.

April 17, 2010

It's the economy, stupid

CD forwarded some pictures from a Nevada Tea Party event last month.  This picture is my favorite:

April 16, 2010

It will never be enough, but it is something

The first step toward some small measure of justice.  Ever known our justice system to move this quickly?


Grand jury hands down murder indictments in fatal crash

Eleven days after an Argyle woman and her 14-year-old daughter died in a car crash involving an allegedly drunken driver, a grand jury returned two indictments of murder against him Thursday.

I call BS on BHO

I am apparently a little behind here, so indulge me.  Judging by the Googlesphere, I am not the first to notice this contradiction, but I shall expound on it a bit.

Yesterday driving in my car, the radio was carrying BHO's space speech.  I normally can't stand to listen to that irritating voice, but thought I would give it a try as I was interested in hearing if he had changed his mind about the future of moon missions.  As I heard the blowhole wax poetic, (he makes everything about him, doesn't he?), he said this:
...And on a personal note, I have been part of that generation so inspired by the space program. 1961 was the year of my birth -- the year that Kennedy made his announcement. And one of my earliest memories is sitting on my grandfather’s shoulders, waving a flag as astronauts arrived in Hawaii...
Hmmm, that bugged me a little.  I am not a space historian, but I have seen Apollo 13 nine or ten times.  I have been to the Johnson Space Center in Houston.  I like to watch documentaries.  I have a well-rounded education.  I know how to Google.

I have discovered, that this is not the first time that BHO has mentioned being in Hawaii when astronauts arrived.  I have found at least two other speeches and an article that contain basically the same comment, one speech from when he was a senator in 2008 and one made last year on 40th anniversary of Apollo 11.  The quote has changed slightly -
The country continues to draw inspiration from what you've done. I should note, just personally, I grew up in Hawaii, as many of you know, and I still recall sitting on my grandfather's shoulders when those capsules would land in the middle of the Pacific and they'd get brought back and we'd go out and we'd pretend like they could see us as we were waving at folks coming home. And I remember waving American flags and my grandfather telling me that the Apollo mission was an example of how Americans can do anything they put their minds to. (video of speech here)
and this one in Parade magazine
One of those memories is sitting on my grandfather’s shoulders and watching the Apollo astronauts come ashore in Hawaii. People cheered and waved small flags, and my grandfather explained with pride and assurance how we Americans could accomplish anything we set our minds to do.
The conclusions I drew from the three quotes were that BHO claims to have been in Hawaii during MANNED space flight and was of an appropriate AGE and SIZE to be sitting on his grandfather's shoulders.

I checked the NASA site to affirm what I thought I knew about the Apollo missions.

I checked BHO's bio to confirm dates.

Problem is, BHO lived in Indonesia with his mother and stepfather from 1967 to 1971.  Apollo 7 was the first manned mission to launch, but that was in October of 1968, BHO had left Hawaii a year prior.  All sources say that BHO returned to Hawaii when he was 10 years old.  His birthday is August 4, 1961, so he returned to Hawaii sometime after that date in 1971.  Apollo 15 landed August 7, 1971.  That seems to cut it a little close, but still possible that he saw it.  Here is a picture of little BHO with said grandfather, in a photo from "the early 1970's" (Maya, the little girl in the photos was born 8/15/70, for sake of comparison) and a photo dated 1971, of BHO and his father and another of the family in the same time frame:



Does BHO look like he could have been sitting on grandpa's shoulders, waving an American flag, welcoming astronauts back to Earth in 1971 or later?

April 15, 2010

A Taxpayer Funded Fish Story

Our tax dollars at work:
A Garland man pleaded guilty to stuffing a lead weight into a bass during a fishing tournament.
Robby Rose, a competitive bass fisherman, entered a guilty plea to the felony offense.
Judge Brett Hall sentenced Rose to five years probation, 15 days in jail and loss of his fishing license for the duration of his probation.
The charge stems from an incident that occurred during an October 2009 tournament on Lake Ray Hubbard.
The grand prize at the tournament was a $55,000 bass boat for the angler who caught the biggest fish by weight.
"We took this case very seriously," said Rockwall County Criminal District Attorney Kenda Culpepper. "As far as we were concerned, the case was about a $55,000 bass boat, not a 10-pound fish."

Halfway through the competition, Rose turned in a fish and while he went to the polygraph area, weigh-in officials noticed that the bass had settled near the bottom of the tank it had been placed in. After examining the fish and finding a lump in its belly, they located Rose and told him they intended to cut it open. Witnesses say at that point, Rose took the fish, massaged its belly, and removed a one-pound lead weight from its gullet.

"Cheating is cheating, and neither the fishing community, nor this office, will tolerate it," said lead prosecutor Alex Imgrund.
Wouldn't have been simpler to disqualify the guy?  Ban him from future tournaments, take away his fishing license, fine him?  He admitted to cheating before the tournament was even over - it's not like he won and drove away with the new boat.  It is ridiculous to see that this case was prosecuted as a theft, meaning the state's case was funded by the taxpayers.  If there was a legal issue, shouldn't it have been a suit between the tournament and Rose?

Let's all agree that the guy is an idiot and a cheater.  He will be spending 15 days in the state's accommodation and then 5 years on probation, under the supervision of a taxpayer funded probation officer.  He has lost his fishing license for the duration of his probation.  The only place a license is required is on public land/water.  No license is required in state parks or on private land.  This man is now a convicted felon.  He can't vote for at least 5 years, he will have trouble securing housing and employment.

What in the hell are we doing?  Rapists, murderers, child molesters, wife beaters and drunks are set free every day, but we take the time and resources to put a guy in jail for shoving a lead weight in a fish.  "...the fishing community...will not tolerate it..." GMAFB.

April 14, 2010

Puppet Master

If you have ever been through the voir dire part of the jury selection process, you may have noticed how the attorneys start to show their hand during the questioning of potential jurors.  The case for which I was in the jury pool involved a Class A Misdemeanor charge of assault with bodily injury - family violence.  It became clear that the defense intended to say that the injury was the result of an accident and that the defendant would not be taking the stand.  It was also apparent that his wife had changed her mind about pressing charges sometime since his arrest and might even be testifying for the defense.  I am sure my little monologue about battered woman syndrome cost the defense a peremptory challenge to get me out of there.  
If not that, it was my frequent and intentional facial expressions and eye rolling.  Cheese and rice...it is exhausting to sit in a room and listen to attorneys try to talk at a level suited to the lowest common intellectual denominator, which, in this case, was that of a Mexican toddler.  I shit you not, the judge asked about three times if everyone could read and write the English language.  Everyone nodded, even the guy who spoke only Spanish but was nodding along with everyone else because he had no idea what the judge was saying.  
At one point, the prosecutor was trying to highlight a set of phrases that were separated by the word "OR".  He said, "Let me ask one of the teachers that we have on the panel..." and then asked her to differentiate between "or" and "and" - meaning that they only had to prove ONE of three conditions to meet the threshold for assault, not ALL three conditions.  She whiffed it, said that she would guess that it meant they had to prove all three.  "OR" lady, jeez, what exactly do you teach?  When Texas started pulling the jury pool from driver's licenses AND voter registrations, things went downhill fast.  I repeat yesterday's comment; if ever in such a situation or with a case that would require a modicum of intelligence to come to the correct conclusion: DO NOT REQUEST A JURY OF YOUR PEERS.  
During voir dire, the potential jurors are seated on one side of the 'audience' area of the courtroom, and the attorneys and defendant face the audience, rather than the judge, during this time.  The defendant's wife was seated about 8 feet straight across from her husband, but they never made eye contact at any point during the hour and a half that the attorneys questioned jurors.  In fact, she kept her body turned to the side, rather than toward the front where her husband was sitting.  If she was there in loving support, and may even be testifying that it was all a big misunderstanding, wouldn't there have been some reassuring glances?  Encouraging body language?  
The defense attorney ended by asking every potential juror what their favorite television program was.  He was obviously fishing for the CSI, Law & Order and Judge Judy sort of answers.  I thought saying "any hard core porn" would be an obvious attempt to get out of serving and thought "any Ike Turner biography" to be equally transparent.  I settled for saying 'Two and a Half Men', which is true and was also the favorite of 5 other people in the twenty person panel.  I bet their blog name didn't come from the show.
Now that I am home I realize that I was already judging the credibility of the defense's only witness and the defense attorney made my skin crawl.  They were smart to get me out of there. 

A future Blownstar moment?

"He passed out on the patio with nothing on but his boxers. So we put our beer caps on him. Yeah he woke up with a polka dot sunburn."

Sorry, CD, it could be you...

From TFLN

April 13, 2010

Jury Duty

As much as I wanted to be naughty and show up to jury duty this morning, in hooker high heels and one of my 7-year old's cheerleading outfits - I didn't.  I should have though, because the judge assigned to the jury room made a comment that only once in his judicial career has he dismissed a juror using the "not of sound mind or good moral character" disqualification.  He said that he didn't even question the person, just took one look and dismissed them.  Surely my proposed outfit would have produced a similar result.
In no less than three different places on the jury summons, it mentions proper attire for jury duty.  You are also required to be able to read and write.  Therefore, I see no excuse for the people that showed up in shorts, baseball caps and vulgar T-shirts.  (Commentary on the slutty, ill-fitting and just ugly clothing choices reserved for another time). Yeah, I know it is an inconvenience.  Yes, it puts some people in a bind at work or with daycare.  Have you ever been on the other side of the situation?  Ever had a friend or family member be falsely accused of something, waiting for their court date to get on with their lives?  Ever been hurt or harmed by a person, company or the system ,and owed your day in court?  Without people showing up for jury duty, our judicial system would screech to a halt - try to see that point of view.
That said...if ever you find yourself in a legal situation...DO NOT REQUEST A JURY TRIAL.  YOUR PEERS ARE STUPID.  Seriously, they can't read the summons, follow the dress code, arrive on time, listen to the judge's instructions or be the least bit creative when trying to get out of jury duty (unlike my outfit idea).  Granted, there are a handful of smart people sprinkled about - five or six of us sat in the back of the jury room,  correctly guessing the judge's decision for each person approaching the bench requesting an exemption.  It really cracked us up when they would get back in line with a new argument.  Dude! We were all laughing at you - and did you not see the judge shaking his head before you even got up to the bench the second time?
Did you know that you don't have to speak English to serve on a jury?  This lesson was learned by at least three people who had brought "translators" with them in their attempt to be excused.  Funny how they magically began speaking the lingo after the judge sat them back down.
Lucky me, I was chosen for a jury pool, I have to be back at the courthouse tomorrow. It is a misdemeanor case, so I am not counting on anything very exciting - but I'll keep you posted.

April 12, 2010

April 11, 2010

Good Riddance


From WFAA
In 1989 or 1990, I made a vow to never give a dime to the football blaspheme known as Jerry Jones.  I almost broke that vow this morning.  I really wanted to go watch this in person.  Despite the claim that the $25 parking fee was going to charity, we all know that Jerry was profiting in some manner.  Instead, I watched it from the comfort of my home, where I could rewind and watch it again and again, giggling with glee.  I kind of feel like Tom Landry can rest more peacefully now, knowing that Jerry can't trample on the memories that Texas Stadium held. 
If you aren't from around here, don't be fooled by the collective American memory that was formed in the opening sequence of the TV show Dallas. 



Texas Stadium was not to be found amidst gleaming skyscrapers, cattle pastures or oil derricks. It's closest neighbors were a Days Inn and a massive CarMax dealership, at the crossroads of three highways, in a concrete jungle of industrial development. The glory ended in 1989, when Jerry bought the place, despite the championships that followed. The obscene grandeur of the new palace is more fitting to the current ownership.  
Holding true to my vow, I never set foot in Texas Stadium, despite my high school football team playing there, despite the lure of some great concerts that were staged there.  Mr. Harper used to be a season ticket holder, so he is a bit more sentimental than I about the place.  I couldn't be happier, seeing the pile of rubble that remains.    

April 9, 2010

No. 844

I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity today to ride a train pulled by the last steam locomotive built for Union Pacific.  It was quite a treat, as train enthusiasts crowded the roadways waiting to catch a glimpse of the train.  Here is an official picture, I haven't uploaded mine yet:


More info about the train, its specifications and schedule can be found here.

One of the cars was a concession car, with drinks, snacks and souvenirs for sale.  I asked the ladies working there how they lucked into such a job.  They said it was who they slept with!  Each of them is married to an engineer, fireman or conductor.  They travel the rails together - one of the couples have been doing this for eighteen years.

I generally stay at arm's length from anything that is intended to construe goodwill or favor in relation to my 'community service' job - and this invitation had everything to do with UP's track running right through the middle of my town - but train rides, I just can't turn down. 

April 8, 2010

No pie for me

Among everything else going on in my life, I didn't have an entire morning to devote to getting my piece of the stimulus pie.  I gave it a valiant effort throughout the morning, sitting down two or three times, multiple tabs open and trying to load the rebate reservation web page, while repeatedly dialing the toll free number.  I continued with the calling on my cell phone as I ran errands.  No luck.
I am sure the reservation process was filled with fraud, just as the redemption process will be.  News reports highlighted the massive response to the offer.  It ticked me off to hear that the state paid a Minnesota company over $800k to run the call center.  Typical government program. 
No big deal to me, really, I just need a new refrigerator and the rebate was $250, only applicable to a fridge under $2,000 and you have to get rid of the old one.  There was also a two appliance limit to the program, and we need to replace most of the kitchen appliances that came with our 25 year old house.  Those caveats were steering us toward purchasing decisions that we wouldn't normally make.  There are six of us - it is cheaper in the long run to keep a large fridge full of food rather than driving (at least seven miles each way) to the store every three days.  The old fridge can be used for storage in the garage, running or not.
I actually feel a little better about my new plan to purchase new appliances on the Memorial Day weekend sales tax holiday.  I'm not taking stimulus money, and will still rate what amounts to a 8.75% discount.

Gotta get all these major purchases behind me before our government enacts a VAT

April 7, 2010

Un-f-ing-believable

A classmate of my sixth grader lost his dad early this morning.  Grief counselors should be a rare occurrence on a school campus.  This is beyond comprehension. 

April 5, 2010

Heartbroken

We lost two precious friends yesterday.  A three-time convicted drunk driver has left us heartbroken.  Take your pick of the linked stories to see the monster who has killed two people.  Actually, look at this one - the photo shows the beautiful spirit of this family.

My daughter's friend is bruised, battered and, along with her little brother, motherless.  There are not words to describe how my heart aches for them. 

The past three weeks have been brutal on the kids in this town.  They have seen three parents and a fellow student die.  One mother succumbed to a years-long battle with cancer, one father was murdered and now, a mother and child murdered by a drunk.   

I have lost my faith in the God that I was raised to believe in.  The idea of a loving, protective father figure would never heap this much pain and tragedy on young people.  I don't have words to comfort my child, or any faith to give me strength.  I am sick and tired of going to funerals. 

April 4, 2010

Happy Easter

April 2, 2010

Harper = "The Hairy Cheeked"

My kids were playing around with a web game promo for the movie "How To Train Your Dragon".  The application asked you to type in a name for which it would generate "your Viking name".  Simple enough. 

There were a few giggles as they tried different names, resulting in answers of, "Behold the mighty... 'Worm Eater', 'Fair-Bearded', 'The One-Eyed'", etc..  They soon figured out that even using the same name generates a different result each time, obviously just a random loop in the code.  I had to smile, though, when they were showing me how it worked.  The kids typed in their big sister's name and up popped the perfect (in a parent's eyes) Viking name for a teenage girl:
"The Inpenetrable"

Going problem?

If you live in Florida and need to see a urologist, kindly consider Dr. Jack Cassell. This brave doctor is taking heat nationwide for a simple sign posted in his front window:


Wingnuts from coast to coast are screaming that he has violated his Hippocratic Oath.  GMAFB!  The sign encourages people to go elsewhere, it doesn't say that treatment will be refused.  Several idiotic comments have been made in reference to the Oath, I suggest they backtrack and read the damn thing, which, incidentally, is not required for a doctor to practice medicine. 

Funny that Alan Grayson (D-Fla) was one of the first to jump up and misquote the Oath...perhaps he would like to review what it says about abortion.  Glass houses and all.
In his waiting room, Cassell also has provided his patients with photocopies of a health-care timeline produced by Republican leaders that outlines "major provisions" in the health-care package. The doctor put a sign above the stack of copies that reads: "This is what the morons in Washington have done to your health care. Take one, read it and vote out anyone who voted for it."
My orthopedic surgeon/physical therapist office has a sign announcing that they can not accept any new Medicare patients and that they will not treat existing Medicare patients that have a new condition.  It goes on to say:
"This is due to the 21% decrease in payments to physicians and Congress not being able to make up their mind." 
Whether or not this health bill can be paid for will be a moot point when there are no doctors left practicing.

Getting my piece of the stimulus pie

This month marks the one stimulus-related program that I have been waiting for.   Sure, it's my money anyway - but the process makes me feel like I am getting something!
Starting next week, Texans can 'reserve a rebate' for certain home appliance purchases made later in the month.  Our refrigerator is old.  It predates all of our kids, saw the Cowboys win a Super Bowl, Bush 41 - that kind of old.  It still works, though it makes weird groaning noises at times.  It's old and tired (like me).  I am sure it sucks electricity, too, but our overall bill is generally low enough that it goes unnoticed.
Knowing that this day was on the horizon, I have been perusing the reviews and sale ads.  I have discovered that I will not be getting the refrigerator that I want...I will have to pay for features I do not want just to get the size and door configuration that I need.  Reminds me of car shopping.  
I am probably putting way too much thought into this purchase, but heck, I will probably have this fridge for 15 years or more - if it lasts that long.