November 30, 2010

Say Cheese

Over at Whited's I was stating my (unpopular) position in favor of traffic enforcement cameras, on a post only slightly related to the employment of said cameras.   But, hey, if a girl can't go off on a tangent, then what can she do?

My first month in Germany, I got my picture taken by a mobile speed enforcement camera.  We had just purchased a 'hoopty', an old BMW that would be our second car, once our enormous gas guzzling American truck arrived on the boat.  I was tooling along on a small road en route to the U.S. Army installation in the town of Buedingen.  There was a long line of cars, and as we all approached this tree, I noticed a repetitive flash of light.  I wondered to myself why there was a strobe light attached to the side of a tree - wondered for about two weeks, until the ticket came in the mail.  Great picture, BTW, you could read the writing on the side of the travel mug I was drinking from.  That was 13 years ago. 

Germany employed both permanent cameras that controlled speed through specific areas, as well as mobile units that they moved around.  I am not an expert, but, I would guess that there are no traffic 'polizei' in Germany.  They did have sobriety check points on weekends and holidays, but other than that, I never saw any officer or vehicle that was doing any sort of traffic control or ticketing.  I don't have any facts or information to bolster my position, but surely they spend less on law enforcement and use what they have more effectively.

I cannot comprehend the arguments against cameras.  The technology was good enough to provide indisputable photographic evidence 13 years ago, and has improved considerably (judging by the red light ticket issued to my vehicle - not me - this past summer).  I am sure that some machine, some where, could conceivably make a mistake, but so do cops.  Our justice system provides an avenue for disputing the evidence, and your chances are probably better when there isn't a uniformed officer in the court room defending his position.

So what is the problem with the cameras?  Big Brother mentality?  If you aren't doing anything wrong, then the camera won't even know you are there, as they are triggered by the light turning red, or by an internal radar.  Is it really a defensible argument to claim that if an officer doesn't witness the crime, it doesn't happen?  We don't apply that rationale to any other sort of crime. 

Invasion of privacy?  How?  No officer is checking out your car, looking at your license, maybe asking you to get out or requesting to search the vehicle.  It is a camera taking a picture as you zoom by.  If anything, cameras keep cops out of your bidness.  Not to mention that the city of Fort Worth maintains a handy listing of where their cameras are located.  You can't claim you weren't provided adequate notice.  Don't want to be photographed, avoid those intersections.

So, some company is making major money as the primary purveyor of red light cameras.  Cities are raking in revenue from the people caught by the cameras.  Why should we care?   Isn't that capitalism at it's finest?  A company saw a need, created a product, gave the most compelling sales pitch, got the contract and is making a buck right along with the cities using their product.  Sure, they may pitch the 'safety' side to the public and the 'revenue' side to the government, but isn't marketing about determining your target audience and telling them what they want to hear?

My red light ticket from the city of Fort Worth cost $75, plus a $4 online processing fee.  It was a civil, non-moving violation that does not go on my record, which is good, because it wasn't me in the vehicle.  The camera took a picture and a 12 second video clip which I watched online.

All-in, what is your best guess on hardware, software, processing, printing and mailing of my ticket?  Does someone less busy and smarter than me want to quantify the initial investment, operating costs and ticket processing?  Since I can't do it without a generous research grant, I am going to use a small statistical sample provided by a report to the Texas Department of Transportation:

There are 45 red light cameras in Fort Worth, Texas.  The most current set of statistics available to me is for the period of July 2008 through June 2009, when only 17 of those cameras were online.

17 cameras issued 83,160 citations in a one year period. 

Those 83,160 citations generated an estimated $4,365,904 of revenue.

It would take, what, 51 cops covering 3 shifts per day at those 17 locations to provide a similar level of coverage?  Their salaries, plus the cost of processing hand written tickets, vehicles, fuel, etc.  I think you might break even, cost-wise.  That is setting aside any safety gains that we really can't measure.  What could be done with the labor and resources saved by employing a machine to enforce mundane traffic laws?



You can find a compilation of statistics for other Texas cities with red light cameras here.

November 29, 2010

4th Amendment Wear - of course someone is going to make a buck (that's job creation!)

More fun to be had with TSA agents.  Items from "4th Amendment Wear" are printed with metallic inks, so even if you choose to go through the full body scanner, you are still sending a message.

This T-shirt with the 4th Amendment, as it appears to the naked eye and how it (supposedly) would look on the scanner screen:

photo via The Awesomer
I like the boxers:


FOD

Congrats to Reynaldo Decerega, for doing what many of us would love to do ourselves.

November 27, 2010

Warning to all same sex rommates: sharing a nest makes you gay.

German zookeepers are forcing two male vultures who prefer nesting together to mate with females, sparking outrage from gay rights activists who accuse the zoo of discriminating against birds of a different feather.

The trouble began back in March, when Guido and Detlef, two Griffon vultures, decided to move in together. The lovebirds began crafting a two-man nest out of stray twigs in a communal birdcage at their zoo in the town of Munster, in northwest Germany. 

What is it with Munster, Germany these days?  
Both birds are predatory males, but seemed to enjoy one another's company more than that of any female. They spent their days grooming one another with their beaks and fortifying their nest -- though other vultures occasionally stole their building materials, as if to spite them.

"They always sat so closely together. They defended their nest from the other vultures," the zoo's curator, Dirk Wewers, told The Daily Telegraph of Australia.
Okay, I have owned many an animal in my time.  My grandparents had a farm, with all manner of livestock.  I have had canine, feline, equine, piscine, ranine and oscine pets.  I will submit that all of them, domestic, farm and exotic, exhibited 'homosexual' behavior of some sort during their lives.  I know a dog that will hump anything he can wrap his paws around, canine, human or inanimate - male, female or fluffy slipper.   Does that mean he is bi-sexual with a fetish?  Why this desire to label two male birds nesting together as 'gay'?  The zookeeper points out that the co-habitating is a matter of companionship, not sexual orientation.
But Wewers explains their preference for one another as second-best."A suitable female was missing and in such a case vultures look for companionship from the next best thing, even if it is a male," the zookeeper said. "Detlef looked for a bird of the opposite sex but settled with Guido." 
Seems straightforward enough, right?  But, these vultures are in captivity to reproduce and since that ain't happening guy on guy, vulture style, the zoo arranged for one of the vultures to go to another zoo to mate with a female. Enter the rabid gay rights activists.
Gay rights activists held a small demonstration in front of the zoo, waving a rainbow flag and decrying the zookeepers for standing in the way of love.

"This is like in the dark middle ages, forcibly making a creature sexually re-orient itself by tearing its partner from its side," The German Herald quoted one protester as saying. Others said they worried that what's happened to the birds could one day happen to humans as well.
At this time, I feel like I must insert the obligatory statement about how many gay friends I have and how I don't presume to dictate how they live their lives.  That said...

GMAFB.  These are vultures.  Not 'gay' vultures, just vultures.  They are in captivity to REPRODUCE, an activity, that apparently, cannot yet be accomplished among the vultures with a petri dish and turkey baster.  Therefore, a male and a, gasp!, female vulture have to hook up to make the whole reproduction thing work.  The idiot quoted as fearing that this would one day happen to humans should go back on his meds.  Sane people aren't trying to equate animal husbandry with human sexual orientation.  Nor are we trying to equate other wild animal behaviors to human behavior.

If we were trying to grant animals and humans the same rights, which groups would be waving flags and protesting for our rights to sniff the crotch of everyone we meet, eat our young and kill our mates after sex?

November 26, 2010

In honor of Lucy

Nothing hurts like losing a pet, especially a damn good dog.  They love you unconditionally and completely.  Just as reading about a child dying makes us hug ours a little extra long, hearing of a friend losing a pet spurred me to give an extra skritch to the ones that are still with us.  God Bless Kerrcarto and family and rest in peace, sweet Lucy.

All dogs go to heaven.

Max  1997
Jake   1997
Pepper   2004
Newt   2009

Another reason to stay home on Black Friday

Of course, I knew they existed. Many a day I have made a valiant effort to navigate the aisles with my Costco cart, foiled time and again by people cutting in front of me or clogging the aisles as they crowd the sample lady. Weekday lunchtime is often filled with the most obvious examples of people who have no other reason to be at Costco, other than the free samples. Some push around an empty cart, in an effort to look as if they have a legitimate purpose. Others just elbow their way around the carts to get their free lunch.
Since Costco has at least 416 locations in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, that's a lot of free lunches. No wonder many sample scarfers like Larry Zinter have developed techniques to get the most out of their food freeloading.

"I come to Costco about three times a week," said Larry Zinter, a veteran sample scarfer in La Mesa, Calif. "I try and get all the nutritional stuff first and avoid all the sweets and stuff if they're up front. If you start there, you're full by the time you get to the good stuff.

"Also, I look for the longest lines. That tells you what people are going for."
Who are these people, that will admit, to the media and all of the world, that they are freeloaders?  I cannot wrap my head around the sort of people that think it is okay to broadcast such character flaws to the world.  
Of course, people have always gone for free food, and since there seems to be no limit on samples, gorging on Costco samples is almost a tradition in some families who love both bargains and easy-to-prepare vittles.

Take Kerith Rae, for whom glomming free samples at Costco is a form of family togetherness.

"As kids, my dad used to joke about 'taking us to lunch,' and then we would do the Costco grocery run with him on a Saturday afternoon," Rae said. "From a young age, my sister and I could eye the best possible samples."
Freeloading as a family activity?  Good Lord, they planned a day around making lunch out of Costco samples!  I will admit that when we are shopping, my family will try things.  As intended, sometimes we discover a new product that we end up buying.  Sometimes we save ourselves money and waste by figuring out that we don't like a product.  Sometimes, we fill up on samples and skip the $1.50 hot dog and drink at the snack bar.  We have never even considered going to Costco with the sole intent of making a meal out of samples.  Who does that?  And by 'who', I mean, what sort of people have been raised to believe that it is okay to take advantage of Costco's marketing program and turn it into a three times a week meal plan?
Along with learning the value of a bargain, Rae says she also learned how to push her way past other hungry shoppers to get her fair share of freebie food.

"Keeping your elbows up and pointed out to each side with hands on the hips looks menacing and prevents people from passing you," Rae said, adding that it works well when combined with a doe-eyed stare.

"Also, I always grab at least two items and say 'it's for whoever' even though I plan on eating both," she said with a laugh. "If you want to be really sneaky, say 'Did you drop something?' to the people in front of you and walk past them to the head of the line."
You bitch.  Not only are you a parasite, but a scheming, dishonest bitch that thinks it is a God-given right to elbow people out of the way to get to a free sample.  GFY.  I know your type.  I had always given the benefit of the doubt to the people that have shoved my children out of the way for a paper cup of pita chips, but now that you have outed yourself, you can count on a jumbo cart getting rammed into the back of your ankles.  A cart that is usually brimming with two 40 pound bags of dog food, the ten pound box of laundry detergent and 20 or 30 pounds of meat.  Some of us actually SHOP.   
The holidays may be the busiest for shopping, but Rae says this time of year is peak sample scarfing season.

"The holidays is when they break out the pumpkin pie cheesecakes or pies and the festive dips," Rae said. "All the comfort food is so good. As I have gotten older, I scarf less and am more picky and choosy, but I still love going to Costco with my dad in order to 'have lunch.' We stand around, compare the best food samples and get some great meal ideas. It's more of a family joke/tradition now than anything."
Kerith Rae, I'm betting, is related to Peggy Joseph.  I have to believe that this is a segment of society that doesn't reflect the values and morals of my family and circle of friends. Even if there were leeches in my family, they would have the good sense to keep it on the down low.

While some may justify the sample freeloading as being a benefit of their membership, I would surmise that the volume of samples consumed ultimately leads to higher prices.  The article mentions that a good sample experience increases sales 3.5 times over just an end cap display.  Does that profit margin cover the quantity they are giving out to people who have no intention of ever actually paying for the product?  I doubt it.  One of two things will happen.  The prices will rise to cover the cost of  product given away for marketing purposes, or they will start to put a limit on the samples.  The 'professional' sponges will adapt to the sample limitations and ensure that they are the ones getting the product, leading to decreased sales - since those with coin won't have the opportunity to sample and, in turn, won't buy the products.

There is one bright spot to the story.  All of those professional deadbeats are eating themselves to an early death while increasing sales for the big boy clothing makers.
Registered dietitian Keren Gilbert says that while club stores like Costco are great for buying stuff in bulk, the free food can bulk you up as well.

"Costco's free samples may be tiny, but most of them are high in calories, fat and sodium," she said. "If you keep going back for seconds, it is easy for the calories to add up fast."

She recently added up an average "lunch" of Costco samples -- including two chicken nuggets on a toothpick; one mini corn dog; one teriyaki chicken in a Dixie cup; one cheese quesadilla triangle; four chips with salsa; one pizza pretzel stick; three chips with hummus; another mini corn dog; two cheese Danish samples; six iced animal crackers; and two samples of Gatorade.

The final tally of all these snacks? A whopping 1,084 calories, with 54 grams of fat; 1,667 milligrams of sodium and 22 grams of sugar.

"That's no joke," she said. "Go to Costco twice a month, and you will gain close to 8 pounds in a year!!"

November 25, 2010

Remember to be thankful for our troops today.

I was counting on my fingers this morning, trying to remember how many Thanksgivings my family spent going through the line at the dining facility, watching the officers serve the food, chatting with soldiers who were far from home and sharing conversation about our families and traditions. This time of the year makes for some bleary-eyed soldiers across the pond(s), considering the timing of football games and the time differences! I saw a billboard for the Armed Forces Bowl over the weekend, and commented to my family, that they should play that game in the early morning, so all of the soldiers overseas don't have to get up in the middle of the night to watch it.

As you sit down to your turkey dinner or kick back on the couch with a beer to watch the Aggies BTHO t.u. and the Saints beat the cowboys, remember those on the front lines, protecting the freedoms we are thankful for today.

 

More pictures on Fox News.

Happy Thanksgiving

One of my personal Thanksgiving traditions is watching 'Home for the Holidays'.  There are myriad parallels to my own life that make the movie even more funny than it seems at face value.  Here is the Thanksgiving prayer from the movie, remind you of any family dinners at your house?




P.S. FU Angelina Jolie. Don't hurry back.

November 24, 2010

Where have all the real men gone?

Some time ago a friend sent me a slide show of Lewis Hines photographs of the construction of the Empire State Building.  They are an OSHA inspector's nightmare, but a delight to look at.




These photos came to mind as I read this story about two people that have recently fallen to their death from their own apartment windows.   The story makes it clear that police believe both deaths to be accidental and both involved alcohol. In my opinion, both cases involved stupidity as well, as there are photographs of one of the victims that document that he was dangling his feet outside the window and laying on the outer window ledge - on the 27th floor.
The windows in the units from where the men fell are much like those throughout the building. They slide open several feet in opposite directions. The window ledge is a few feet off the ground, and, in both units, there was a rail on top of that.
A resident points out that it isn't exactly possible to just fall out:
"I don't understand why people would even put their leg out of a window," said Sandy Maltese, a real estate agent who lives at the Mosaic. "To get out of a window at the Mosaic you have to lift your leg up and over it. ... There is no issue of the window."
What has happened to our society, our collective intelligence?  Why were we able to swing through the skies with no harnesses or safety lines one hundred years ago, but young adults can't manage to knock back a few beers without succumbing to the urge to climb out of a high-rise window?  I blame the nanny state.  Our society has become so accustomed to being watched over and protected to the nth degree, that there is little personal responsibility left.  Coupled with our litigious society, of people that will sue if their coffee is hot when they spill it in their own lap, we are our own worst nightmare.

November 23, 2010

Back home...Whoop!

Sorry, didn't mean to go for two days without posting.  Just rolled in from Aggieland, TX.  Took a quick trip down for Freshman Information Day and then waited much too late in the day to head back north and paid the price in terms of traffic.  

WTF is going on in Korea?  Caught that news this morning, but was on my way out the door to the George Bush Presidential Library.

Incidentally, they have a Barack and Michelle Obama paper doll book at the gift shop.  I just don't get that.  Except (the unofficial off-campus) Bonfire was scheduled for tonight, maybe people use the books as firestarters.  Allowing that item in the Library gift shop is one more little tick mark on the side of the graciousness of the Bushes, ya know, in contrast to things like fraternity-level pranks like removing the "W"s from keyboards and gluing drawers shut. 

I need to unwind, walk around a little, get caught up and gather my thoughts.  More soon.

November 21, 2010

Time to chlorinate the gene pool

They walk among us, and as CenTexTim has pointed out, they vote.
A beekeeper in Loveland is recovering after he accidentally shot himself with a booby trap shotgun in a box, deputies said.
I can't fault the man for wanting to protect his honey, but rigging up a shotgun in a box contraption was courting trouble.  I am glad he shot himself and not some little kid.
1960s songbird Joan Baez is "resting comfortably" at an undisclosed location after falling 20 feet to the ground from a treehouse — a treehouse she purposely had built without walls because she wanted to sleep among real birds at her Woodside, Calif., home.
I guess it's better than sleeping with the fishes.
A court in the northwestern German city of Muenster has banned a man from tattooing his pony with the logo of British rock band the Rolling Stones.
The court came to the pony's emotional rescue after the owner shaved off a patch of its hair and pre-tattooed a pattern on its hindquarters of the "Tongue and Lip Design" logo found on albums, t-shirts and other Rolling Stones memorabilia.
The owner said he wanted to make his pony "more unique and beautiful" with the tattoo...
I recall Muenster, Germany, fondly, mostly because the American counterpart - Muenster, Texas, is an easy drive from my house.  A town settled by Germans, with great German food restaurants, a tricky little golf course and an annual Germanfest that offers up great music and food.  No tattoed ponies that I have noticed.

And then there is this story, with many layers of weird:
'Fake Doctor Jailed for Giving Breast Exams in Bars'
An Idaho judge has set bond at $100,000 for a Boise woman police say posed as a physician and duped at least two other women into having their breasts examined by her at Boise-area nightclubs.

Kristina Ross, 37, remains in Ada County Jail in Boise on two felony counts of practicing medicine without a license.
Police say Ross introduced herself to victims -- one at a downtown Boise bar and the other at a nightclub in a Boise suburb -- as a plastic surgeon named Berlyn Aussieahshowna, a name that turned out to be bogus.
Aussieahshowna.  And no one thought twice about a name like that.  It sounds like a Chevy Chase line from Fletch.
The two women told Boise officers they believed Ross was a physician because of her apparent medical knowledge, and they agreed to undergo what they thought were breast exams, which happened at the bars.
Legitimate breast exams take place in a doctor's office.  They usually involve a breezy gown and/or a stiff paper drape.  No tequila shots, no DJ, no dance floor.  Seriously?  Bar breast exams?  Like you've never heard that line before? 

 But wait, there is more...
The suspect's gender is unclear. Idaho court records show that Ross was arrested for petty theft in the spring and that the arrest warrant was issued to a Kristoffer Jon Ross.
The Idaho Statesman website reported that Ross has a previous criminal record as a man but identifies herself as a woman and was booked into Ada County Jail as a female.

They sure know how to do crazy up there in Idaho.

November 20, 2010

Born Free



I like this song, but fear it will end up being someone's campaign music. Kid Rock usually doesn't take sides or allow his music to be used for political purposes. Hope he keeps it that way.

November 19, 2010

Who's that girl?

I messed up the link in the comments at GGDF, so I am posting this picture here. Could one of you resourceful males tell me this girl's name?


Snap On Tools, a pathway to TSA change

I don't have travel plans that involve a flight this holiday week, but have been scouring Kayak and reviewing my Southwest 'Ding' emails for a really cheap fare somewhere, just so I can go screw with some TSA agents.  I have to plan accordingly for when Mr Harper is free to watch the kids and come bail me out of airport jail, or wherever it is I will end up.

This story is the one that is currently inspiring me. The main gist is about a breast cancer survivor flight attendant that was forced to remove and show her prosthetic breast during a TSA screening.  According to TSA guidelines, they are not allowed to ask or require you to remove your prosthesis, in fact, their guidelines ask that you do not offer to or remove any assistive device.

I am a little confused, as it seems that either people with a disability are treated differently, or the TSA has not updated their website.  On the page for 'Travelers with Disabilities and Medical Conditions', they describe the 'pat-down' as a gentle, over-the-clothes experience.

This line set the creative juices flowing:
A T.S.A. representative says agents aren't supposed to remove any prosthetics, but are allowed to ask to see and touch any passenger's prosthetic. 
Snap-On tools, baby.  I am looking for just the right 'prosthesis' to take through security with me.  How many colostomy bags will it take before TSA agents start refusing to do these invasive pat-downs?  

I know a lady who does the fake wound make-up for mass casualty exercises, she's got some very realistic-looking stuff.  I am wondering how often people with lots of open sores get patted down?

Can't you picture it?  A couple of unsavory medical devices, oozing sores, maybe a T-shirt that declares my positive infectious disease status, an adult diaper in desperate need of changing, a productive cough that I just can't get covered...

Heck, I can't even look at a crusty-nosed toddler without thoughts of hand sanitizer and Lysol.  I can't imagine dealing with thousands of people with wide ranging ideas of what 'clean' and 'healthy' mean, coupled with a job description that now says the agent must touch their genitals.  Ewwww. There aren't enough rubber gloves in the world.   I seriously think that an avenue for change exists through TSA employees.  Overwhelm them with disgust and they will demand a change to the procedures.

A funny aside.  My former in-laws flew into town this week.  Pops has a rod and some screws in his leg from an accident several years ago.  All the hardware earned him the grope fest.  As he was getting the pat-down, Nanny called over to the agent, "Hey, careful there, you go much further, he'll decide he likes it and expect me to start doing it for him.  I'm too old to change my routine!"  

Now, where do I go to get one of those pump-up penises?

November 18, 2010

Olive Juice

A smorgasbord of trivial observations for this sunny autumn Thursday:

Last night, about 2 miles from my house, this happened:
A small plane crashed in southern Denton County Wednesday evening.
Its pilot spent more than an hour wandering around in the woods north of Northwest Regional Airport in Roanoke before he was found by emergency crews.
The pilot of the single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza made his way out of the aircraft, which apparently crashed in a tree. He contacted emergency crews with a cell phone.
It was one of those times that something was clearly happening considering the number of helicopters passing over our house.  I had several minutes of Red Dawn-like thoughts, before the news came across about the plane.

This morning, accompanying that story, was this one:
Authorities say a small plane registered out of Fort Worth, Texas, crashed in the Oklahoma City area, killing one person.    
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford says the pilot of a single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza was killed when the plane crashed Wednesday night near Yukon, about two miles south of Wiley Post Airport.
I don't know about you, but I think I will skip any offers to fly in a Beechcraft Bonanza.

***

On my morning drive, there is this dog, a black lab mix of some sort, that lives at a corner house along our route to school.  He is a champion fence jumper.  Often when we drive by, he is chasing cars or carousing with the neighbor's dogs.  Our school departure time often puts us driving by at the same time as his owner is arriving home, perhaps from a night shift job.  That dog can be standing on the outside of his fence, see or hear his owner's truck coming, and jump - flat footed, right over the 4' fence into the yard.  He lays right down in the grass, as if he has been there all day, waiting faithfully for his master to return.  The mom in me wants to stop and tell that guy that his dog has been getting out.  I would hate for him to get hit.  On the other hand, I kind of like how the dog plays both sides - running wild all night like the animal he is, yet willing to submit to his master at the drop of a hat. 

***

They have been improving one of our railroad crossings.  This morning, they were moving some of the equipment to the other side of the road.  (I would love to drive one of those trucks that can go on the tracks).  They had a flagman directing traffic.  I always wave and mouth, 'Thanks', to road workers. I think it is the polite thing to do.  Plus, in the grand scheme of things, I think it offsets some of the more offensive things that come out of my mouth while driving.  It occurred to me this morning that it would probably be more effective if I were to mouth, 'Gracias'.  I then spent several minutes running through every Spanish word I could think of, wondering if 'thanks' could possibly look like a Spanish word.  I haven't thought of one, but with my luck, it's out there, and it's not pretty.

November 17, 2010

Where's Private Waldo?

I started a post entitled 'Madeleine Albright is an ignorant cow', and promise I will get back to it one day, as I detest Albright and like to explain why.  But, in trying to find some data for that post, I came across a Department of Defense table that shows where American military personnel are stationed around the world.

Holy Crap!

Can you guess how many countries we have American military personnel in?

150, not counting the U.S. and its territories, or the service members that are afloat.

Countries like Djibouti.  Ever heard of it? It is next door to Yemen and we have nearly 1,300 military stationed there, apparently hunting terrorists.

I thought it interesting that the numbers for South Korea weren't available.  Probably because the U.S. routinely exceeds the maximum number of military members per our agreement with ROK.  When I visited Korea, the troop levels were usually right around 30,000.

What are we doing all over the world?  I am sure that government and military types can justify every single assignment, in one way or another.  But, couldn't we use the 700+ people stationed in Portugal to do something like, I don't know, protect our border with Mexico where there is a shootout every hour or so?

I'd hate to be the one to end the assignments in Bermuda, Belize, Barbados, the Bahamas, Costa Rica and Antigua - but seriously?  What is the strategic gain there?  Even if it is just one solitary service member, there are hundreds of thousands of dollars in infrastructure, operations and travel, getting them and keeping them there.

I am usually a staunch supporter of defense spending - when it is for the troops and our national security.  Seems that our big government has allowed our military reach to be over-extended.  Someone with no political concerns, if such a person exists, needs to take a long hard look at where our military is serving and why.

November 15, 2010

It ain't easy being green

I always assumed that the term 'greenie' referred to one who is (overly) environmentally conscious.  I usually call them the crunchy granola tree huggers.

Come to find out, 'greenie' might refer to the tinge of their skin after years of eschewing meat, eating organic frutis and vegetables that fell from the vine (because picking them is mean) and carrying a lead filled reusable shopping bag
...reports from around the country have trickled in recently about reusable bags, mostly made in China, that contained potentially unsafe levels of lead.
Concerns have proliferated so much that Senator Charles E. Schumer, a New York Democrat, sent a letter on Sunday to the Food and Drug Administration, urging the agency to investigate the issue.
People will have to be hired, surveys taken, studies done, reports written. That's called DEMOCRATIC JOB CREATION. 
The bags are made in China, and Schumer wants to hold the country accountable—on Saturday he said, “China has no regard for American safety. It’s a place notorious for lax safety and health standards. A record of manufactured products with things like cadmium and lead come from China.”
Is it just a coincidence that Schumer sent the letter, which is critical of China, on Sunday, less than 24 hours  after Blowie returned from Asia all in a tizzy that he couldn't get the rest of the world to bully China into revaluing the yuan?

O/T, but could someone explain to me how and why our government representatives send letters on Sundays, at night, etc.  'Sent a letter' connotes a hard copy document, not an email, so I am assuming some sort of courier service or messenger.  WTF?  Wouldn't a phone call, email, text or web posting be more cost effective?  Just sayin'.  

I'll take two



Not once, but twice.

I wonder what they are serving in first class?

November 14, 2010

Wish it could have been a simultaneous knock out

I love a good fight.  Though the boxing 'industry' is the penultimate example of corruption in sport (the worst being the 'professional' leagues of anything), I still appreciate a fight.  I even like a little of the psychological warfare that ensues from the fight announcement forward.  Mainstream boxing hasn't yet crossed into the ridiculously staged verbal onslaughts that wrestling and MMA are known for.  Even as unexpectedly poetic 'float like a butterfly, sting like a bee' was, it was pure Ali, not a line someone else wrote for him to say.

Harper House watched all of the HBO 24/7 series leading up to the Pacquiao v Margarito fight.  There was also a great deal of local coverage as the fighters arrived in Texas for the fight.  Pacquiao was running the high school track next door to The Princess's (my 7-year old) theater class.  Even little Crash got in on the action, asking if 'those guys are gonna punch each other' when seeing coverage on TV.

Keeping to my goal of never feeding the monster known as Jerry Jones, I resisted the temptation to purchase tickets and see the fight in person.  Over 41,000 people felt otherwise.  That is pretty awesome turn out for a boxing match.  With Mr Harper and The Princess housebound and headed to bed early with a miserable cold, I also couldn't justify forking out $60 for the PPV, just to watch it by myself.  Though they never say so in advance, it was there on HBO this morning, a free to subscribers 'replay' next Saturday night.  It has never bothered me to know the outcome before watching a taped match, so I saved my self $60!  Hopefully Mr Harper will be fully recovered so my original plan of a south of the border meal and adult beverages for fight night will play out...

As much as I thought he was going to lose, Pacquiao kicked some serious ass.  He is 5" shorter, has a reach  6" shorter and weighed in 17 pounds lighter than Margarito. Pacquiao reportedly took the high road and was imploring the referee to stop the fight in the 11th round, as Margarito's eyes were swollen shut and he was obviously 'done'.  The 24/7 series really played up the view that Pacquiao wasn't training as hard as he should have been - but, the aftermath of the 'Margarito camp mocking Freddie Roach's Parkinson's Disease' fiasco, goes to show that editing can create an entirely different point of view than reality.

As excited as I am to see this fight, it is mostly because I want to see these two fighters both get beat to hell.  During training, Pacquiao, who is a congressional representative in the Phillipines, campaigned in Nevada for Harry Reid.  Ugh.  Just can't overlook that act of stupidity.  Margarito is a cheater.  No, I wasn't there and no, I don't have any documentation to support my opinion.  I think the evidence and lab results showing Plaster of Paris in his gauze and tape is hard to deny.  Did he get his hands taped and then decide he needed to build a volcano model for science class?  Puh-leez.

So Democrat versus Cheater,  pot meet kettle - and fighting in Jerry's granddaddy of ill-gotten gains monument to ego.  Wow, the Devil was dancing a jig last night.

November 13, 2010

An early expression of Thanks

I read this morning that the Dems have been hard at work, in typical political fashion, not drafting policy or working for the American taxpayer, but making deals and promises to keep Nancy Pelosi in the driver's seat.

Thank You!

Pelosi's Obamaesque arrogant, fingers in her ears singing la-la-la, blinders shielding her eyes to all but her own agenda attitude is exactly what is needed.  Not that my opinion of him has changed at all, but at least Blowie has made some vague statements about 'the people speaking'.  Pelosi has been nothing but stalwart, patronizing and annoying in her assumption that, despite the mid-term elections, she still knows what is best for us.

Thank You!

Given a bit of thought, I would even venture to guess that Blowie is the one who gets to blow a little smoke up our collective asses, all the while counting on Nancy-baby to keep the lib fires burning.  Careful there Nancy, you might envision yourself as the POTUS's point-woman, but he doesn't think twice about throwing people under the bus.  When his numbers are still in the toilet come re-election campaigning time, you could be staring at the nether regions of a Blue Bird.

This administration has become quite pleasing to me.  Not for anything they are doing to run our country, but for the things they are doing to ensure a single term president.

Thank You!

November 12, 2010

Kinesio Coolness

My oldest (Boom) is being treated for a shoulder injury by a sports medicine guy.  Over the weekend, Boom was running through the house, hit the kitchen tile, slid and rammed into the oven with her forearm.  She showed up to her shoulder therapy appointment on Monday with a wicked bruise on her arm.  Her doc realized that she is an accident waiting to happen and had a good chuckle over this most recent addition to her complaints.  Her treatment plan called for Kinesio tape on her shoulder, so the doc decided to tape her forearm as well, laughing at her the whole time. 

The first time I ever saw Kinesio tape was on beach volleyball player Kerri Walsh in the 2008 Olympics:

 
from here
Boom's shoulder tape job was similar, and this was her forearm:


























You can see the green tinge of the bruise between the tape pieces, but when we took the tape off, you can clearly see where the bruise dissipated under the tape.  Her bruise is striped now.

I don't really know or care what doctors claim that Kinesio tape can and can not do, I have read that it improves circulation and reduces swelling.  Seeing the striped after-tape bruise, I would have to conclude that something happened.

If nothing else, the bright blue tape made for an awesome conversation starter, something every teenage girl appreciates.

November 11, 2010

It will never be enough, but it is something

Back story on the wreck here, trial info here and here.
Repeat convicted drunken driver John Patrick Barton has been sentenced to two life sentences for the murders of two women last Easter.
Barton, who had three prior DWI convictions, was charged with murder after he went on a booze-sodden freeway thrill drive Easter morning and slammed into their car like a bomb.
A Denton County jury Thursday sentenced Barton to life in prison for the deaths, a landmark sentence for a “felony murder” DWI case, the type that has only been tried a handful of times in Texas.
Testimony at this week’s trial suggested that Barton keenly resented being a precedent case, a sort of local guinea pig for a comparatively new interpretation of state law. Prosecutors can now charge a repeat DWI offender who causes a death with murder.
The idea — so far established in only a handful of cases statewide — is that the state doesn’t have to prove your intent to kill somebody, if it can prove you did intend to commit another felony that caused it.
“I didn’t murder those people!” Barton angrily complained a few days after his arrest, according to testimony. “I didn’t even know them!”
No question, John Barton was the case the Lewisville Police Department and Denton County were waiting for. They built a meticulous case, put in long hours, interviewed scores of witnesses, put their best people in play. If Barton thought they singled out his case for special effort, he’s right.
Because he fit their profile like a glove.
He was already a repeat violator. He was so drunk and belligerent at the scene that he tried to punch out a cop. He snoozed through a mandatory blood draw at the hospital, waking up just long enough to puke in a wastebasket.
He might not have appreciated being made a poster boy for murder-by-drunk-driving, but he auditioned for the part brilliantly.
The Easter morning wreck was life-changing, all right. It changed the Hull family’s life forever.
It changed the lives of motorists who witnessed the crash and ran to help. It made a permanent impression on Larissa Cauley, who comforted Autumn as she was dying in the mangled car. She cradled the girl’s bloody head and stroked her leg.
And on Erin Causey, another witness, who calmed Kandace Hull’s son, 12-year-old Jake, trapped in the back seat between his sisters. After the harried paramedics pried him out, strapped him to a backboard and laid him on the ground, Erin stretched out flat on the freeway asphalt next to him. She talked to him about school and sports — anything she could think of to distract his attention from his dead mother, whose body was lying a few feet away.
God Bless those who stopped to help.  God Bless the jury that saw fit to hand down the maximum sentence in this case.  God Bless the family, friends and, especially, the kids in this community who will never be the same.

From here and here.

Thank you, Veterans

Thank a Veteran today.  Without them, we wouldn't have the freedoms we have and we couldn't complain about the ones we think we don't have.  My life's path has granted me the privilege of knowing hundreds of people who have, or are, bravely serving our country.  It has also caused me to attend way too many funerals for lives lost for our country.  I had a little trouble trying to decide if I wanted to mention someone in particular - took several trips down memory lane, looking at photos and reading obituary news clippings.

What I decided was that I should get off my butt and let at least one veteran know how much they are appreciated today.  This lovely gentlemen lives just around the corner from me.  I am proud to check in on him now and again with his Meals on Wheels, and to escort Scouts to his house to do odd jobs for him.  He is a World War II veteran.  He tells the most beautiful story about a Christmas Eve spent in Belgium with his platoon.  It was cold, they had been walking for days, and needed a place to rest.  A Belgian farmer allowed them to sleep in the barn and the family, in the most austere of times, chose to share their Christmas 'feast' of bread and honey with the soldiers.  Blue says it was the most delicious meal he has ever tasted.  I'm going to go sit with him for a spell, listen to his stories and let him know how much we all appreciate his service.

November 10, 2010

Something to chirp about

Scientists have found a bushcricket species with testicles that account for up to 14% of its body weight.
They have named their test subject Brett Favre.
In a study of their mating strategies, the team found they release only small amounts of sperm at each mating.
That suggests the big testes are for mating with many females, not producing competitive volumes of sperm for each encounter.
Someone must tell me how a scientist measures how much sperm is released.  Cricket condoms?
Significant research across the animal kingdom has shown that male testicle size is correlated to the degree of promiscuity within a given species.
And who has been paying for this 'significant research'?  How does one enter that expenditure in Quicken?
The more partners a female has, the larger the male's testicles are likely to be.
Did you catch that?  The more partners the FEMALE has, the larger the MALE's testicles are likely to be.  So, boys, if you aren't happy with the size of your dangly bits, the secret lies in encouraging the lady in your life to be more promiscuous.

Somehow I doubt this idea will catch on.

Updated Justice

Indulge me, folks.  The victims were friends, so as the details continue to come out in the courtroom, I will post them here. 
An investigator testifying in a drunken driving case told Denton County jurors this morning that John Patrick Barton's blood-alcohol content likely was three times the legal limit when his car hit and killed an Argyle mother and her daughter.
Brent Robbins, an investigator for the Denton County district attorney's office, said today that one hour after the crash, Barton's blood-alcohol content was .23, but he estimated that at the time of the wreck, it was .24, three times the legal limit of .08.
Police have testified that Barton, 30, had been drinking all night before the Easter morning crash that killed Kandace Hull, 33, and her 13-year-old daughter, Autumn Caudle. Hull's husband, Anthony Hull, and two other children, ages 12 and 16, were injured in the crash.
Robbins pointed to Barton's two bar bills, which had 31 drinks listed on them. It was unclear as to how many Barton actually consumed.
I tended bar for a good number of years.  Never once, to my knowledge, did I ever have a patron get a DUI or in a wreck.  I hope that the person who closed out those tabs has lost some sleep since April.
Barton's ex-wife, Lauren Sewell, 26, testified Tuesday that Barton had been out drinking celebrating his upcoming birthday the night of the crash. Sewell said she begged Barton not to get behind the wheel after a night of partying.
"I'll think about that while I'm driving," she recalled Barton said as he drove out of the parking lot at the Lewisville apartment complex where they lived.
She said minutes later, she heard the sounds of sirens and a helicopter.
"I had a sinking feeling that it was him," Sewell told jurors.
A sinking feeling.  Really, that's the best you can do?  I have been dying to know, Ms Sewell, when you filed for a divorce/annulment 19 days after the crash, was it because you realized you didn't love Mr Barton anymore, because you realized that he was going to spend the rest of his life in prison, or to cover your ass, since you knew he was legally prohibited from driving a vehicle without an interlock device, you knew he was drunk and let him leave without taking any action to stop him, or some combination of all of those factors?  How long was it before you agreed to testify for the state?  Was that also a protective measure to shield your part in this horrific tragedy?  My money is on CYA.  I hope that sometime the Griffin family hits that 'anger' part of the grieving process and directs it toward you in the form of a civil wrongful death lawsuit.  You should be rotting in jail for your inaction, but I will settle for forever financially indebted to them.
Law enforcement officers testified that Barton was still in his car and appeared to be uninjured when they arrived. He resisted arrest and had to be subdued with pepper spray.
Dear God, how in the world does that happen?  Why does the drunk come out unscathed and a mother and daughter left dead?  A husband, son and daughter battered and scarred for life.  It is probably for the best that I haven't been able to be in the courtroom this week.

Dogwood Acres Penitentiary

From the email inbox, comes a grand idea:

Let's put the seniors in jail and the criminals in nursing homes.

This would correct two things in one motion:

Seniors would have access to showers, hobbies and walks.

They would receive unlimited free prescriptions, dental and medical treatment, wheel chairs, etc.

They would receive money instead of having to pay it out.

They would have constant video monitoring, so they would be helped instantly if they fell or needed assistance.

Bedding would be washed twice a week and all clothing would be ironed and returned to them.

A guard would check on them every 20 minutes.

All meals and snacks would be brought to them.

They would have family visits in a suite built for that purpose.

They would have access to a library, weight/fitness room, spiritual counseling, a pool and education...and free admission to in-house concerts by nationally recognized entertainment artists.

Simple clothing - ie., shoes, slippers, pj's - and legal aid would be free, upon request.

There would be private, secure rooms provided for all with an outdoor exercise yard complete with gardens.

Each senior would have a P.C., T.V., phone and radio in their room at no cost.

They would receive daily phone calls.

There would be a board of directors to hear any complaints and the ACLU would fight for their rights and protection.

The guards would have a code of conduct to be strictly adhered to, with attorneys available, at no charge to protect the seniors and their families from abuse or neglect.

As for the criminals:

They would receive cold food.

They would be left alone and unsupervised.

They would receive showers once a week.

They would live in a tiny room that they have to share with another elderly person, for which they would have to pay $5,000 per month.

They would have no hope of ever getting out.

It's not a party, it's civilization building

Over the years, beer has brought countless people together. But researchers now say beer isn't just responsible for sparking new friendships and relationships -- it might also be responsible for the rise of human civilization.
Archaeologists believe that when Stone Age farmers in Southwest Asia began harvesting grain -- a process long considered to be a precursor to the advent of civilization -- they weren't doing it to produce food.

Instead, they say agriculture's early seeds were sown in an attempt to brew beer, according to LiveScience.com.

Scholars believe Neolithic groups in the Natufian culture began settling down and farming cereal grains about 11,500 years ago. But archaeological evidence reportedly shows that barley and rice were only minor parts of the diets of early humans -- leading researchers to believe they might have been used for drinks at parties
.
Hear that?  We haven't been supporting Shiner Brewery for naught, it was a nod to our Neolithic heritage.  Some people reenact battles or dress up in Renaissance garb, we drink the beverage that birthed civilization.  Clearly, we are to be honored for our deep and abiding appreciation of early man's first agricultural and fermentation forays.
"It's not that drinking and brewing by itself helped start cultivation, it's this context of feasts that links beer and the emergence of complex societies," Hayden told the website.

And as uncivilized as a beer-fueled party might seem today, Hayden says those sudsy feasts laid the groundwork for the rise of civilization.

"Feasts are essential in traditional societies for creating debts, for creating factions, for creating bonds between people, for creating political power, for creating support networks, and all of this is essential for developing more complex kinds of societies," he said.
If you don't believe that beer and parties contribute to the development of complex societies, attend a blog meet.  I have never been more certain of a group of people that could solve the world's problems, one Shiner at a time.

November 9, 2010

A Little Piece of Justice - updated a coupla times

In an unexpected turn Monday, a Lewisville man about to stand trial in the deaths of an Argyle mother and her daughter in an Easter morning car crash suddenly pleaded guilty to the drunken driving charges against him.
John Patrick Barton, 30, changed his plea right before a Denton County jury was about to be selected to hear the case.
That jury will now be convened to determine the punishment for Barton, who is charged with two counts of murder and three counts of intoxicated assault with a vehicle. He faces up to life in prison.
While it is encouraging that Barton chose to plead guilty, it accelerates the timeline for family members to have to face him and recount the pain and loss they have suffered.  Prayers for D, J, T and family.

One other thing...several of the media outlets here have taken to using a photo of Barton that was taken in jail, the day after, when he is all sobered up and cleaned up and rested, looking somewhat morose.  Note to Barton - the rest of us didn't get any sleep that night, or for many after.  I prefer to remember this man who killed my friend and her daughter, as he looked when it happened.  Thanks to whoever superimposed the pic of their wrecked car behind him:

This photo from here.
And another thing...you'll have to excuse me as this hit really close to home.  The DA and police released very few details of the crash, saying that they wanted to be certain that they didn't make a single mistake in this case.  As the punishment phase of the trial plays out, we are hearing some details:
A Denton County jury deciding punishment in a drunken driving case that left two people dead heard today that John Patrick Barton's car was traveling 134 mph when it plowed into the back of a car carrying an Argyle family on Easter morning...
...Barton was so drunk he didn't even know he had been in a car wreck and slept while authorities administered a blood-alcohol test. 

November 8, 2010

Way to go, Weston!

Just the sort of protest that is needed.  Sane people banding together and stopping the idiots from disrupting a soldier's funeral.
People in Weston, Missouri banded together on Saturday. They wanted to protect loved ones who were saying goodbye to a fallen soldier. They stood up to members of the Westboro Baptist Church who planned to protest at Sgt. First Class C.J. Sadell's funeral.

Sadell died October 24 from injuries he suffered in a surprise attack in Afghanistan. On Saturday, there was quite a turnout of people who wanted to keep the protesters away from the funeral.

"I'd say probably half the people in Weston are here," said Eric Moser, Marine Corp veteran.

Weston has less than 2,000 residents, but hundreds of people showed up to support the family of First Sgt. Sadell.
Weston is a pretty little town across the river/state line from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.  My kids used to love going to a toy store there to talk to the owner's parrot, Einstein.  I remember a nice state park and several antique stores that we also frequented.  I can see the spirit of the town I knew in this story.
Sadell was in the Arif Kala region of Afghanistan when his unit was ambushed October 5. Five soldiers died and Sadell was badly injured.

"If you think about it, they've all gone to serve just so we could be able to do this," said Rebecca Rooney who organized the supporters. "He didn't die in vain."

Rebecca Rooney is a Weston resident who wanted to stand up against Fred Phelps and his followers.

"We got everybody here early so we could take up all the parking spots," Rooney said ."We did that so Mr. Phelps wouldn't have a contingency that was really close."

Supporters came armed with patriotic music and American flags.

Protesters didn't stick around long once they saw the supporters.

"I'm glad they left, but I'm sad they came," Rooney said.
 
I don't believe for a second that the jerks from Westboro Baptist Church are anything resembling good people.  They are crass, opportunistic funeral crashers who should be jailed for what they are doing.  Free speech has nothing to do with it.  They could go anywhere else and not encroach on the rights and emotions of the families mourning their lost loved ones.  Isn't the basis of our freedoms, that they end when they infringe upon someone else's?

November 7, 2010

It was the Islamic Terrorism, Stupid

I often complain about the overly sensitive, politically correct, namby pamby society we have in America.  Let's just call a spade a spade.  That's not a racist comment, by the way, it refers to the gardening tool and actually is evolved from an ancient Greek text.  Google it for God's sake.  In a truly diverse society, I wouldn't have to defend my words, and neither would they immediately be taken in a derogatory manner.

This gentleman nails something that has been bugging me for weeks.  Since I live in Texas, we are much closer to the Fort Hood massacre story than some.  I hate how Hasan is identified as the 'alleged gunman' - there are dozens, if not hundreds of eye witness accounts and no one, not Hasan nor his defense team, have denied that he was the shooter.  Nor have they made much mention of his religion, his beliefs or his contact with radical Muslims.  As former CIA officer and counterintelligence expert Mike Baker points out below, our government, and what I believe to be government control  influence of the media, has been very careful in choosing their words when describing the Fort Hood massacre:

Why Is Everyone Still Missing the Real Story of the Fort Hood Massacre? 
By Mike Baker

"It was a year ago today that 12 soldiers and one civilian died in a shooting rampage [allegedly] carried out by U.S. Army psychiatrist Major Nidal Malik Hasan on the Ft Hood military base in Texas."

I was reading through media coverage over the past couple days on the anniversary plans and all the various recaps of that sad and violent day when it occurred to me that the unifying thread among all the various stories was the apparent inability to directly address the Muslim angle.

While not a scientific survey, I must've gone through 8 newspaper articles and half a dozen write-ups from television online websites and none could bring themselves to refer to Hasan as an American-born Muslim, nor could they mention his contact with Yemeni radical cleric and Al Qaeda synchophant/recruiter Anwar Al-Awlaki.

There were no references to Hasan's increasing disaffection with America and certainly nothing noting he kicked off his shooting rampage by shouting "Allah Akbar."

Wait. That's not entirely true. The magazine Esquire ran a lengthy piece on the Ft. Hood shooting anniverary in which the author did mention that Husan allegedly shouted "Allah Akbar" at the outset of his killing spree. Here's the relevant portion from the article; (note to reader...you might want a stiff drink before reading the following):
".....But the real story at Ft. Hood was never terrorism. Yes, Hasan shouted Allah Akbar before he shot 13 people to death and wounded 32 more one year ago this Friday. That's a terrorist sort of thing to say. But for a lonely, socially maladjusted outcast, righteousness and piety can be a comfortable cloak under which to hide. Of course, one needn't be a hardened jihadi to commit an act of terror. Being duped, misguided or just pathetic can be reason enough -- and Hasan was all those, as well as scared stupid by his impending deployment to Afghanistan. But whether or not Hasan was an Al-Awlaki puppet, the story of Ft. Hood was Ft. Hood itself -- all war, all the time..."
Seriously. The real story was never terrorism. What a load of crap.

For the better part of a year since the shooting, you'd be hard pressed to find an occasion when the current administration, the Defense Department or the majority of the media made any reference to the role that Hasan's religion and radicalization over a period of time influenced his actions.

 The prefered storyline omits the role of radical Islam in the tragedy and focuses on standard aspects of a rampage...trying to equate Hasan with any other mad gunmen such as the Beltway snipers or the Columbine shooters.

Hasan did what he allegedly did because he became a radicalized Muslim with an increasing hatred of America and a willingness to follow the violent rantings of Al-Awlaki to his death. Thirteen people died one year ago because terrorism was the story.

November 6, 2010

Teleprompters, airplanes, monkeys and dogs.

The TOTUS made the trip to India:
According to parliament sources, a technical team from the US has helped the Lok Sabha secretariat install textbook-sized panes of glass around the podium that will give cues to Obama on his prepared remarks to 780 Indian MPs on the evening of Nov 8.
 What did that cost us?
Obama will make history for more than one reason during the Nov 6-9 visit. This will be the first time a teleprompter will be used in the nearly 100-feet high dome-shaped hall that has portraits of eminent national leaders adorning its walls.

Indian politicians are known for making impromptu long speeches and perhaps that is why some parliament officials, who did not wish to be named, sounded rather surprised with the idea of a teleprompter for Obama.

"We thought Obama is a trained orator and skilled in the art of mass address with his continuous eye contact," an official, who did not wish to be identified because of security restrictions, said.

Obama is known to captivate audiences with his one-liners that sound like extempore and his deep gaze. But few in India know that the US president always carries the teleprompter with him wherever he speaks.
Yeah, don't feel bad, a good portion of his supporters were drawn in by the (perceived) extempore and deep gaze thing, they aren't so enamored anymore.

Though the White House is denying the $200 million price tag that some outlets were reporting for this trip, The Times of India, in an article about airport closures associated with the visit, outlined the number of aircraft involved in this little foray:
Even if the closure is for six minutes, one has to take into account the sheer number of aircraft in Obamas entourage, said an airport official. With nine aircraft, helicopters and planes, scheduled to land on Nov 6, air-space closure may last for at least 54 minutes
And this as well:
Obama visit to Delhi: Special vigil against monkeys and dogs
BWHAHAHA!!!
Besides the high-level security apparatus in place for US President Barack Obama's visit here tomorrow, dog and monkey catchers are also being roped in to avert any 'animal invasion' on his route.
Security officials have sought the help of trained animal handlers from civic agencies so that no untoward situation is created during Obama's tour to the national capital.
Special focus is being given to the Central Ridge forests opposite ITC Maurya Sheraton, which will host the American president during his stay here, and Rajghat, where Obama will visit to pay respects at the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi.
Monkeys are seen in large numbers at both the places.
Okay, so what's the deal?  What exactly is an 'untoward situation'?  The article never mentions any danger, other than falling coconuts from some tree branches in Mumbai, but they had them removed.  So, if it isn't fear of attack or some animal-transmitted disease, what is it?

I think it is fear of the photo op.

November 5, 2010

A Damn Good Dog

After our most recent vet bill for paw surgery, two weeks of getting rammed in the Achilles with the cone of shame and a massive muddy paw path through my kitchen this morning, this was a nice reminder of why everyone should have a dog at some point in their life. (Ignore the commercial)

November 4, 2010

Does she think we are stupid enough to believe this, or is she really that dense?

In an ABC interview with Diane Sawyer, Nancy Pelosi said this:
"We weren't anticipating losing. We knew it was a possibility, but I never discussed that possibility with my family," Pelosi said.
So, the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States of America, with access to the same media you and I have, her own personal and political party's polls, CIA, FBI, NSA, etc., didn't 'anticipate' a loss?  What planet has she been on?

Just goes to prove that you can't fix stupid.

Back to the once a week wash tub days?

I guess that dirty politics isn't the only thing stinking up our country...
Over the weekend, The New York Times published a story about a trend that has many of us scratching our heads (literally): Showering infrequently—three times or fewer a week—is growing in popularity, not just among the hippie-granola sets, but for mainstream professionals as well. High-powered workers like Jenefer Palmer of Malibu, California, chief executive for the Osea skincare line, told the paper that only does she regularly skip bathing, she also avoids using deodorant while both traveling and meeting clients in high-powered meetings. Phew.
Yuck.  Now, don't get me wrong, I realize that some people live a lifestyle that may lend itself to less than daily bathing.  Some people, due to age or ability, simply can't manage a daily bath.  Most of those people do all they can to stay 'fresh'.  Who are these high-powered executives that think they don't need to bathe or use deodorant?  I can tell you who they are...the people that I always get stuck next to on an airplane.

Living overseas, where daily bathing is/was not done, taught me several important lessons.  One, avoid crowded places, the smell was overwhelming.  Not just an aroma, but a stomach-turning stench.  Two, don't fool yourself into thinking that the public pool is a good place to avoid stinky people.  They are often still stinky and usually in some state of nudity.  Third, no amount of personal hygiene product can substitute for a bath or shower.

When I lived in Germany, bath-substitute products were many and varied.  Most were quite similar to our modern hand sanitizers - quick evaporating gels and lotions that purported to cleanse and refresh.  Sheesh, take a shower already.  It is similar to downing a fifth of Jack and then thinking one little Lifesaver is going to fool everyone you breathe on. 

I'm gonna stick with clean, not just perfumed.

November 3, 2010

It's not worth it - UPDATED

My lovely friend Leslie, frequently laments the lack of respect and responsibility that people have for railroad crossings.  I always nod my head in agreement when I read those posts, as trains are a daily event in my life.

My town began as a rail depot, our main street is paralleled by a heavily used freight train line.  I cross the tracks, on average, 6 times a day.  I have seen some stupid people, some close calls and lived here when a teenager didn't even look, and was killed on a crossing near her house.

Last night, we had another tragedy at the crossing I use each day on the way to and from school.  Mercedes versus train, train won.  What is particularly concerning is that some suspect that the 'accident' was suicide.  The stopping distance of the train, in my most in-expert opinion, does seem to indicate that there was more advance warning than one would think, if it were just a car trying to beat the train.  The train was stopped within half a mile of the impact, according to the news report.   

When the cacophony of sirens began last night and continued forever, I sent up a little prayer.  We are a small town and major accidents usually involve someone we know, somehow.  My family had been at a school basketball game and reported the dozens of emergency vehicles and the stopped train, when they came in.  (Of course, I had to go get in my car and look).

To all of those emergency workers - first responders and railroad folks who worked all night in the cold and pouring rain, God Bless You.

Obviously, my heart goes out to the family and friends of the deceased.  Having taken several 'safety train' rides and spoken with conductors and engineers about accidents, my heart also aches for the personnel on the train.  Can you imagine having control of a mile and a half long train, seeing a car on the tracks in front of you, perhaps even making eye contact with the person in the driver's seat, knowing you will never stop in time?

It is a tragedy, all around.

UPDATE:  This was ruled a suicide.  While I appreciate the pain and despair of mental illness, I believe suicide to be the most selfish act in the world.  This woman left behind four children who will always carry the guilt of not knowing if there was something they could do to have prevented her death.  

Many happy returns

So the question this morning is, "Will the White House listen and change course?" 

I, personally, think that the Dems retaining the Senate is somewhat of a good thing.  There is some balance.  No party can be blamed, or take the credit, for what is to come.  The party split is close enough, that crossing the aisle either way can impact important decisions. 

Interestingly, the Blue Dog Coalition was obliterated, losing 23 of the 46 seats they had held.  Not even conservative Dems could hold on.

Obama called Boehner to congratulate him last night, signaling some understanding that they will have to work 'together' for the next two years.  I think it is telling that the statement released by Nancy Pelosi neither congratulated the GOP or spoke of her political plans for the future.  It just isn't Nancy's style to not mention all the things she is going to do.  Hoping that is a harbinger of her impeding retirement.

For the first time in the past two years, I have some hope that things will change.

November 2, 2010

November 1, 2010

Oops, she did it again

Disregarding our extreme dislike of the shiny silver plastic hair clip she wore to the United Nations, Hillary has another "WTF was she thinking?" moment in Cambodia.

Here, ladies and gentlemen of the United States, is your Secretary of State, on an official visit to Asia and  sporting a VISOR.  Did you hear that Kerrcarto....a VISOR!

From here

Never trust a translator

I can't tell you how many times in my life, I have wondered about this very sort of scenario:
Two Swiss tourists who chose the Maldives' white-sand beaches as the setting to renew their marriage vows were instead mocked by the officiator, who chanted abuse and curses in the local language at the unsuspecting couple.
I remember shortly after moving to Texas as a young teenager, I met my first Hispanic friend.  (Spending my early years in Kansas didn't expose me to much foreign culture).  I would go over to his house and his mom would rattle on in Spanish for 30 seconds or so, to which he would translate something like, "...she says 'hi'...".  Yeah, right.

There have been SNL skits about funny translations, but this real-life story is better, and more disturbing than fiction.  On a not-so-funny note, much of the speech was based on religious themes, calling the couple infidels, declaring their marriage invalid and naming children born of the union as bastards.
The Vilu Reef hotel said it was "unforgivable" that a staff member had read out the sexual and religious slurs in the Dhivehi language, and apologised for his conduct.
"You are swine," the couple were told. "The children that you bear from this marriage will all be bastard swine.
"Your marriage is not a valid one. You are not the kind of people who can have a valid marriage.
One of you is an infidel. The other, too, is an infidel and, we have reason to believe, an atheist."
The wife, wearing a white dress and carrying a bouquet, and her husband smile shyly through the ceremony.
In front of a table decorated with incense sticks, the English-speaking couple bow their heads in prayer through the torrent of accusations, curses and swearing.
You can watch the actual video, with translations, here.

(Protestant) Swiss couple travels to the white sand beaches of (Islamic) Maldives to renew their vows and unknowingly gets pilloried by the person performing the ceremony.  The government has apologized, and announced that they are revamping the entire marriage and vow renewal tourism industry.  Some claim that is an overreaction. Were this an Islamic couple traveling to the beaches of, say, South Carolina, and one of the Bible Belt's finest were to read them a profanity-laced, theologically based tirade - an expression of  'intense regret' would be the least of what our over-sensitized, political correctness-run amok leadership would demand.