May 30, 2010

Happy Memorial Day

I have this on my computer in a Windows Media Player file, and it is much better quality. This is the best I could find with code to embed. The sentiment is crystal clear, even if the images aren't.

May 29, 2010

Sack Tapping

What has the world come to when kids have to punch each other in the cash and prizes as entertainment?
A Minnesota teenager had to have his testicle amputated after being punched in the groin by a classmate, KARE11.com reported Friday.
David Gibbons, 14, was changing classes in his Crosby, Minn. high school when he was attacked by another student playing a game called “sack tapping.”
Sack tapping, heh, heh.  The kids here call it 'rack city'.  Just as charming.
David’s mother, Christy Gibbons, said it wasn’t until hours later that they realized something was wrong.
"One o'clock in the morning he woke me up and told me he was in excruciating pain," she said.
David was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital in Brainerd, Minn. where surgeons removed his right testicle.
And David is not the only student who has suffered the consequences of the “sack tapping” game.
"It's just gotten way out of control," said Dr. Scott Wheeler, a urologist in Brainerd, Minn. who says he performs three to four surgeries a year on boys with ruptured testicles and other complications as a result of “sack tapping.”
"All parents, you need to have this talk with your kids not to do it. It's lost its humor. It's not a game anymore. People get hurt," he added.
When my son was in 5th grade, this game was the rage among the football-playing boys, which quickly translated to the bullies taking crotch shots at the more meek kids.  I came unglued when I heard about it, for the reasons portrayed in the article.  That, coupled with a childhood memory of a classmate that was standing on top of one of these:
 ...and lost his footing.  I remember the teachers helping him to the ground, the ambulance pulling right out on the playground and, later, the hushed conversations about what he lost.  Ouch.

The local school administration here had their typical 'boys will be boys' reaction when I called about 'rack city', and did little other than have the teachers tell the boys that they 'really shouldn't do that'.   Hows about you put the article above on prominent display?  Judging by the looks on the faces of the boys in my house as they read it - it might get those kids to stop dishing it out and taking it in the cojones.

May 27, 2010

Gene Simmons salutes the military

I don't know how long this has been around, but it rocks...

May 26, 2010

Squid Life

Grouchy Old Cripple has a funny post about re-living one's service in the Navy.  It would also apply as a warning lesson for those thinking about Navy service.  Several of the quips in Denny's post referenced the living conditions at sea, which made me think of my family's December tour of the USS Bowfin.  I was an Air Force brat and an Army wife, so I can only relate to the more general idiosyncrasies of military life.  I have to say that I was enamored of the Bowfin; with its efficient use of space, proper labels and step by step instruction sheets. I love the symmetry of everything from bunks to dining tables to control devices.  That stuff works well with my brain.  The smell, well - that was the one thing no one liked so much.  (If anyone can tell me how to get flippin' Blogger to properly tile photographs, I will kiss you on the mouth.  Sorry about the formatting...click for full size)


May 25, 2010

We're the bluebirds

We are in baby bird watch mode.  My neighbor has always had bluebirds, Eastern Bluebirds to be precise, and they have migrated to our porch.  A simple search to check on the incubation period of the eggs has stressed me out.  It seems that sparrows frequently attack bluebirds, kill the babies and/or eggs and steal the nest.  Great!  Now even more responsibility.

Current conditions:
  • 5 eggs, last one laid Thursday
  • mom has been on the nest since then, plus it is HOT here, so incubation should be going well
  • ETA middle of next week

May 24, 2010

One ringy dingy

The other night I left the house without my cell phone.  It wouldn't normally be an issue, except it was one of those evenings that we had kids going in three different directions to their various activities and I was supposed to call when I left my meeting, to coordinate the pick up duties and routes.
I walked out of my meeting looking for my phone, only to realize that I knew exactly where it was - sitting on my kitchen counter.  I giggled a bit, knowing that Mr. Harper had called it by now, as he is always EARLY and would not have been able to wait for the 'if I don't call by _____' time that we had agreed upon.  
I'm thinking, no problem.  I will find a pay phone and call home.  Have you tried to find a pay phone lately?  Not the easiest task out here in the 'burbs.  I wanna know how people score drugs now.  I remember a time when the process involved pay phone numbers and beepers...so the popo couldn't trace your calls.  As if the average vice unit was tapping the home phone of every dime bag pot dealer.
I did finally find a pay phone at a nearby 7-Eleven store.  Can I say that I felt like everyone driving by was looking at me like I was conducting a drug deal...even though I am sure the process has changed immensely?  It used to be cool to use a pay phone.  Pre-cellular technology, using a pay phone was the preeminent way of saying, "I am so cool and important that I must stop to use a phone in between driving destinations."  This persona having been replaced by the wireless headset.  I wonder if all the Bluetooth wearing hipsters of five years ago and all the hands-free iPhone talkers of today can appreciate that Lily Tomlin created that look...and all I hear when I see them yakking away on their cellular crutch is a nasal, "Is this the party to whom I am speaking?"

May 22, 2010

Contemporvant Growtivation



The only thing missing from this video is the promise of donuts in the lobby...

May 20, 2010

Congrats Grads

Setting the bar rather high for future commencement speakers, my kids' school's first graduating class will be addressed by none other than Governor Good Hair on Sunday.  He will be joined by US Rep Burgess and State Rep Truitt, as well as the Texas Education Commissioner.
I won't be there to see the show, as it is an invitation-only event for seniors, their families, their teachers and every politician within a 300 mile radius.  I understand the 'limited seating' excuse, but it stinks that my kids can't watch their friends graduate and share in the excitement of the school's charter class.  (It's also one of those nagging things to be remembered during next year's write-a-check to the foundation campaign).
I thought it would be fun to go to see if any of the teachers had the opportunity to speak with the education commissioner on the little textbook issue you might have heard about.  That would be worth the price of admission.  Of course, most of the teachers are relatively conservative while many of the school's parents lean due west, politically.  So the entertainment value is thus tripled. 
All 24 kids in the Class of 2010 are college bound, which is something to be proud of.  If nothing else, having that matriculation rate and political VIPs attend, shows that the state is paying attention to a small school that is excelling, despite receiving about 60% of the state funds that traditional public schools do.  Continued success and attention could someday lead to a system that allows me to choose which school both my kids and my tax dollars go to. 

May 19, 2010

Social Adjustment Fail x 2

H20 is counting down the days left in the school year.  Hang in there, girl, it could be worse:
A McNair Elementary School employee reported to police Monday that a pupil used obscenities, spit, threw things and urinated on a classroom floor during social adjustment class.

The student was refusing to do his homework, according to a police report. When the staff member and a teacher tried to stop the scene he was making, the boy wrote an obscenity on the floor in spit. He took off his shoes and threw them at a window, trying to break it, and threw a chair.

He urinated on the floor. After he was made to clean up the mess, he tried to hit the teacher with the mop. He hit the teacher in the chest and spit in the teacher’s eyes, threatening to kill the teacher and other staff members.
The report ends with the teacher making sure the kid ate lunch before he was taken into custody.  Most teachers are greatly undervalued and unappreciated.  It's the nuts like this one that get all the attention:

May 18, 2010

May 17, 2010

Police kill innocent child



Do the police have something against 7-year olds? A couple of weeks ago we all saw the video from Columbia, Missouri, when a SWAT team busted into a home, shot the dogs and threw dad to the ground in front of a 7-year old boy.  This week it is Detroit police, but they shot and killed the 7-year old girl.  In true form, they are trying to shift the blame, claiming a 'scuffle' with the child's 46-year old grandmother at the door that either necessitated the firearm discharge or caused it.  This is after they threw in a flash grenade and busted down the door.  When detonated, the flash grenade produces a flash of light that momentarily activates all light sensitive cells in the eye, making vision impossible for approximately five seconds until the eye restores itself to its normal, unstimulated state and the incredibly loud blast produced by the grenade adds to its incapacitating properties by disturbing the fluid in the ear. How would you react if blind and deaf and confronted with an unknown person grabbing you?  I don't think 'scuffle' would begin to describe what I would be doing to protect my family. 
I have to believe that there are better ways to search for suspects of any kind.  People eventually leave their house.  The resources needed to assault a home can't be less costly than putting a couple of officers in a car watching the house.   Or schemes like this.  This brute squad mentality is much too dangerous to innocent people.

R.I.P. Ronnie James Dio

May 16, 2010

Tanks a million

No offense intended to all of our fine soldiers serving in points near and far...

May 15, 2010

Shucks

One of the owners of Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver lives in Flower Mound, Texas, a neighboring community to ours.  We pass by his ranch en route to a Mexican restaurant that we frequent.  Nice folks with a real pretty little piece of land.  As is human nature, it is nice to have some personal connection to a Big Event.  Usually we just pick a horse to root for by their entertaining names or the color of the jockey's silks.  We were cheering hard today, but this great grandson of a Triple Crown winner couldn't pull it off.

May 14, 2010

Cheaters

Yesterday whilst doing domestic chores, I had the iPod on shuffle.  While providing a nice variety of music, I tend to get annoyed that there isn't a way to shuffle everything but________.  For instance, why can't I shuffle the rock, pop, country but leave out the Christmas songs, the classical, the Jonas Brothers & Hannah Montana that are on there to entertain my kids?  I know that I could create a playlist, but that is too much work.  I want a feature that allows me to check the categories that are included when I shuffle.  If there is a way...someone please tell me.
Anyhoo - much of my iPod is filled with little ditties like the one below.  One hit wonders, or the one good song on an album.  Many I never owned before the days of download, not wanting to drop $15 on an album of crap for one song. 
I have heard, and sang along with, this song at least a hundred times.  It struck me yesterday, that this is not at all how I would have handled the situation.  Putting it into a modern perspective - cheating woman posts her profile on the Internet, cheating man checking out Internet profiles on his laptop while his girlfriend (the cheating woman) is asleep next to him.  They e-mail back and forth and decide to meet.  BAM! An episode of 'Cheaters'.  Seriously, do you know anyone that would walk into this situation and say,
 ..."Oh, it's you."
And we laughed for a moment, and I said, "I never knew"...
"That you liked Pina Coladas..."
Isn't more likely to be:
"WTF?!"
"Me, WTF?!  WTF are you doing here?"
"You cheating whore!"
"You cheating SOB!"
And then the drinks get tossed into faces, someone gets slapped and Tiger misses the cut.

Happy Friday

 

May 13, 2010

Caring for your unit

This friendly reminder came with my electric bill:


I am on board with the first two points, but am not sure where I can buy a more efficient unit...
I would like to thank the marketing company responsible for this insert. Apparently none of them have teenagers or have been witness to the 'that's what she said' phenomenon, or they would have seen how simply adding the letters 'HVAC' would change the tone of the piece. But, hey - we appreciate the giggle and plan to keep it going. I can't wait for our A/C guy to come so I can ask him all sorts of questions about our units and the other units he services.

May 12, 2010

Time to retire

Check out The Global Rich List website.
Input your annual income and the site will tell you how you rank.  
I am the 32,568,845 richest person in the world!!!  Okay, I should say 'we', since I included Mr. Harper's income. 
Their methodology for the computation, of course, is using a global average of annual income, based on 10 year old data.  But if they say I am the 32,568,845 richest person in the world, what do I care if the last person on the list is naked in a mud hut in Sierra Leone?  Not the most honest data for an average income comparison, but the definition of 'wealth' is personal and widely varied.  It would be hard to quantify that in an application like this.  From the site's 'Why are we doing this?' page:
We are obsessed with wealth. But we gauge how rich we are by looking upwards at those who have more than us. This makes us feel poor.

We wanted to do something which would help people understand, in real terms, where they stand globally. And make us realise that in fact most of us (who are able to view this web page) are in the privileged minority.

We want people to feel rich. And give some of their extra money to a worthwhile charity.
Jokes aside, I do care about people living in mud huts in Sierra Leone.  They don't actually live in mud huts, but that is beside the point.  My kids' school works with a charity called 'Forgotten Diamonds'.  My kids' pen pals in Sierra Leone always ask for pictures and want to know about school in America.  They never talk about their struggles and speak about their families with pride.  My kids usually try to send a few bucks of their own to their pen pals.  It is somewhat heartbreaking to know that money I could find forgotten in the couch cushions, when received in Sierra Leone, requires that a parent come to escort the child home from school - lest they get robbed. 

Now go see how rich you are!

May 11, 2010

Job Openings in Wallis, Texas

After this:

"A Texas 3rd grader had to serve a one-week detention after a teacher found a single Jolly Rancher candy in her possession."
There are bound to be openings at the classroom, campus and/or district level.  Teacher went overboard, principal jumped on the bandwagon and the superintendent has tried to shift blame to the state's school food policies. 

If only the president had a pair the size of Arizona's...



Saw it first at GOC.

May 10, 2010

Information control, there will soon be an app for that

"With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations -- none of which I know how to work -- information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation," Obama said at Hampton University in southeastern Virginia."
Not sure what bugs me more in this quote; that the leader of the free world can't figure out technology that my 7-year old has, that said 'leader' thinks that information is a distraction or that he threw Apple, Microsoft and Sony under the bus for no apparent reason.  Maybe some of those left leaning techie billionaire types will think twice before writing the big checks next time.

May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

May 8, 2010

Happiness is a warm .45

Parked next to this at Cabela's yesterday.  I bet no one ever tailgates this guy. 


On a side note, I had my 3-year old with me, trying to do some Mother's Day shopping.  Yes, at Cabela's.  The women in my family aren't heavy into the jewelry and flowers bit.  Said toddler was not in good humor, and more challenging than usual.  I finally gave in to his demands to go look at the fish in their giant display tanks.  We happened to arrive just prior to the bass tank feeding time.  Having just minutes earlier fed the 25 cent handful of kibble to trout that jump up out of the water for it, he was expecting something similar, I imagine.  I promised much excitement if the little guy could just hang in there.  Just about then, my son points to the tank and says, "Oooohhh, Mommy look at the pretty little goldfi...".  He stopped abruptly as the fish he was watching was swallowed by a bass.  Nobody told me they were going to drop in a hundred little minnows and goldfish.  Crap!  I'm not raising a pantywaist, but sheesh, a little warning would be nice.  It apparently didn't bother him for long as he promptly announced, "Okay, let's go to the shooting game now."
Since the fish display obviously wasn't enough death for one afternoon, we headed upstairs to shoot some stuff.  He has this favorite gun slot right by a target that is easy to hit, right in front.  It is the only target he aims for and he is quite successful.  This target squirts water on the hapless person (me) to the left of where the kid likes to shoot from.  If you hear of someone at Cabela's, looking like they were in a wet T-shirt contest and discussing Darwin with a 3-year old, that was me.    

May 7, 2010

Enjoy the moonscape

In the story, they go to a warehouse and buy some used copiers, and then use a, "...forensic software program available for free on the Internet...", to run scans and download images of the documents left on the hard drive.  I am constantly amazed at modern journalists doing these scary security risk stories, wherein they tell the public exactly how to perpetrate the crime! In this case, the copiers were from a police department's sex crimes unit, a construction company and a health insurance company.  Some interesting info to be found there, for sure.
It concerns me a little, knowing how often I have to hand over my driver's license, insurance card and other documents to people that promptly make a copy of them - the doctor's office, Hertz, school, etc.  Should I demand to see a copy of their photocopy machine hard drive scrubbing policy?  Sometimes it seems to me that we are bombarded with a litany of dangers that we can't do a thing about.
A loooong time ago I worked in customer service for Xerox.  I was the lucky duck talking people through their copier issues and sending repair techs.  Techs also had to call us to 'clear' their tickets and account for parts used, so I heard both sides of many stories.  Before digital copiers and hard drives, there was something called 'residual image'.  For any number of reasons, and depending on the type of machine, images of old documents (and other assorted items) could get 'burned' onto the drum/photoreceptor.  Sometimes bugs and mice would get into the machine and get flattened and stuck on the drum.  So every copy coming out also had the ghostly image of something else.  Our cubicle walls were a showplace for the most entertaining of these images. 
Armen Keteyian goes on and on about the personal information they came across on the used copiers.  Social Security numbers, sensitive police information, a cancer diagnosis.  'Tens of thousands of images'.  Has the nature of the copy room changed that much, or is Armen just not mentioning how many hairy-butt-or-boobs-on-the-copier-glass images they found?

  And this is too funny not to share, a Friday blonde joke:

May 6, 2010

How to scar a 7-year old for life, compliments of your local SWAT team

This is hard to watch, but watch it you must. I have friends and family in law enforcement and will be discussing it with them. What I fully expect to hear from them is that this is NOT how to execute a search warrant and that this video, and the officers in it, are an embarrassment to the law enforcement community.



The SWAT team claimed that they were met at the door by the family's Pitt Bull and that they, "...held back and then fatally shot the dog, which officers said was acting in an uncontrollably aggressive manner." Is that what you saw in the video? Maybe my eyes and ears deceive me, but it appears to me that at least five 'officers' were well into the house before shots are fired, accompanied by the heart-wrenching sound of the wounded dog.

The couple was charged with child endangerment, because, apparently, if a SWAT team breaks into your home, guns blazing, shooting dogs, screaming at you - and ultimately finding only a small amount of marijuana - they have not endangered the child nearly as much as the evil pot smoking parents have.

Overreaction and abuse of power don't begin to describe this debacle of police action. I don't care what you are for or against - this is unacceptable at every level.

Thanks to Whited for the original posts.

Links to local media stories from February 23rd and May 3rd, highlighting the PD's ongoing contradictions as to what happened.

May 5, 2010

The American Way 2010

Velociman puts into words, the knotted mass of rage, confusion and frustration that rises in my throat when I consider the state of my country:
"...the institutionalisation of noblesse oblige has made us a coarser, more angry people. It all boils down to expectations.

Once a hapless citizen is denied the kindness of a stranger because he possesses the expectation that the Government Integral will dispense it in lieu of the stranger, along with a salt tablet and a quarter of cheese, the social compact has been broken. Kindness is no longer required, nor is thanks...

...I gave at the 15th of April festivities. Nothing here for you now.

It's a sad thing, but it was inevitable. There ain't nothing we can do as individuals that the government can't do more poorly, more insensitively, and more inefficiently.

It's the American Way."
Go read the whole thing.  

Cinco de Mayo letter to El Presidente

emailed to me by several friends:

Dear President Obama: 

I'm planning to move my family and extended family into Mexico for my health, and I would like to ask you to assist me.

We're planning to simply walk across the border from the U.S. in to Mexico, and we'll need your help to make a few arrangements.

We plan to skip all the legal stuff like visas, passports, immigration quotas and laws.

I'm sure they handle those things the same way you do here. So, would you mind telling your buddy, President Calderon, that I'm on my way over?

Please let him know that I will be expecting the following:

1. Free medical care for my entire family.

2. English-speaking government bureaucrats for all services I might need, whether I use them or not.

3. Please print all Mexican government forms in English.

4. I want my grandkids to be taught Spanish by English-speaking (bilingual) teachers.

5. Tell their schools they need to include classes on American culture and history.

6. I want my grandkids to see the American flag on one of the flag poles at their school.

7. Please plan to feed my grandkids at school for both breakfast and lunch.

8. I will need a local Mexican driver's license so I can get easy access to government services.

9. I do plan to get a car and drive in Mexico , but, I don't plan to purchase car insurance, and I probably won't make any special effort to learn local traffic laws.

10. In case one of the Mexican police officers does not get the memo from their president to leave me alone, please be sure that every patrol car has at least one English-speaking officer.

11. I plan to fly the U.S. Flag from my house top, put U.S. Flag decals on my car, and have a gigantic celebration on July 4th.  I do not want any complaints or negative comments from the locals.

12. I would also like to have a nice job without paying any taxes, or have any labor or tax laws enforced on any business I may start.

13. Please have the president tell all the Mexican people to be extremely nice and never say critical things about me or my family, or about the strain we might place on their economy, or we will brand them as racist.

14. I want to receive free food stamps.

15. Naturally, I'll expect free rent subsidies.

16. I'll need income tax credits so although I don't pay Mexican Taxes, I'll receive money from the government.

17. Please arrange it so that the Mexican Gov't pays $4,500 to help me buy a new car.

18. Oh yes, I almost forgot, please enroll me free into the Mexican Social Security program so that I'll get a monthly income in retirement.

I know this is an easy request because you already do all these things for all his people who walk over to the U.S. from Mexico.  I am sure that President Calderon won't mind returning the favor if you ask him nicely.

Thank you so much for your kind help. You da man!!!

May 4, 2010

In for a penny, in for nine-tenths of a pound

Why, as smart Americans, do we put up with gasoline pricing for 9/10 of a gallon? What mechanism would cease to work if stations just priced it at a full gallon? I live in Texas, so I get screwed at the pump when it is hot, anyway.

Just give it to me straight and tell me what a whole gallon is going to cost me.  

That is all.

May 3, 2010

Primero FOD de Mayo

May 1, 2010

Our 51st state

For no apparent reason, other than a gigantic oil spill off the gulf coast, the media does not seem to be covering the passage of H.R. 2499, "The Puerto Rico Democracy Act". The measure passed with a vote of 223 to 169 on Thursday.  2499 provides a 'fast track to statehood', a two step process of putting the measure to a popular vote.  First would be a vote that asks Puerto Ricans if they want to remain a commonwealth or change their status. If they vote for change, then the next vote gives them the choice of statehood, independence, or an independent free association (sovereignty).

Some claim that Puerto Ricans want statehood. It is likely that Democrats will gain seats - despite Republican strategists trying to convince people otherwise. Alex Castellanos, a Republican political consultant wrote:
"...At a moment when the GOP is struggling to find its footing with Hispanic voters, this legislation is politically important. It writes into law what Republicans have etched in our hearts: that America is for all Americans. Republicans who are afraid that Puerto Rico might send only Democrats to Congress might check their concerns with the island’s governor, Luis Fortuño, a speaker at the 2008 GOP convention. Fortuño is a not only a Reagan conservative who has been elected island-wide twice in the last five years — in 2008, he was elected by 225,000 votes, the biggest margin of electoral victory in 44 years. While mainland Republicans struggled in ’08, the GOP bucked the tide in Puerto Rico, with victories that included the governor’s seat, president of the Senate, speaker of the House, Senate majority leader, mayor of San Juan, and a majority of mayors in the 78 municipalities, as well as the majority of state legislators throughout the island. These results are no surprise. Polls tell us that 78 percent of the island’s residents are pro-life; 86 percent say prayer should be allowed in schools; 75 percent say displaying the Ten Commandments on government property should be allowed; a majority supports vouchers for private schools. An overwhelming majority of Puerto Rican citizens embrace socially conservative values..."
But Naomi Lopez Bauman points out
In the 2008 presidential primaries, more than 388,000 Puerto Ricans turned out to vote for then-senators Obama and Clinton. Fewer than 1,000 voters turned out for the Republican caucus.
Puerto Ricans voted against statehood in the last three self-determination elections.  They aren't supportive of independence, either.  This would seem to indicate that the first vote - to change or not to change, would be the latter.  PR political pundits say that the controlling party intends to eliminate the option to remain at status quo, as a commonwealth.  Given only the choices of independence and statehood, statehood wins. 
The strategy to virtually eliminate as an option for voters Puerto Rico’s current status as a commonwealth, leaving only independence and statehood as options, will all but guarantee a statehood landslide. The plan is spelled out in their legislation (pp. 7-8) and can be found here. The New Progressive Party (PNP), which is pro-statehood, controls all branches of government. There is little doubt that this bill would become law soon after the U.S. Congress passes the Puerto Rico Democracy Act.
The plan is this: After statehood wins a landslide majority, Puerto Rico will elect a congressional delegation to send to Washington, D.C., and they will demand to be seated. This is the same strategy Tennessee used to gain admission to the Union in 1796. The PNP party platform can be found here, and it says on p. 179 (translation from Spanish): “After having obtained a majority vote for Statehood, we will implement the most effective strategies to have Congress approve an enabling act admitting Puerto Rico as a State of the Union, by including the strategy known as the Tennessee Plan.”
And let's not fail to notice every liberal's favorite strategy of the month:
PNP leader and former governor Carlos Romero Barceló once told local newspapers, “They [congressional leaders] will have to support [statehood] in order to avoid being accused of bigotry against Hispanics.” In other words, they won’t hesitate to denounce anyone who resists their demand as “racists.”

So, why is Puerto Rico's government so anxious to force statehood on its people?
Puerto Rico is currently facing a banking crisis of its own, which has plunged the territory into financial distress that makes the recession here seem like a walk in the park.
Ahhhh, more bailouts.