January 31, 2011

Man Down

My oldest is home sick with flu-like symptoms.  Yesterday we were having dinner with my parents and some other family.  Boom made it through the meal and was on her second or third helping of meatloaf when a wave of nausea hit her.  She never hurled, but her overall health went downhill quickly from there.

We must have forgotten to knock on wood, as dozens of kids were out sick from school last week with some stomach bug.  Each day the kids would give me the reports of who was gone.  The Princess got in the car three days last week reporting who had thrown up at school that day.  Second graders just never seem to feel it coming on until it is coming up and out.

I had nagged the kids to wash their hands and keep their distance from everyone.  Boom went with a friend to visit Oklahoma State University over the weekend, and I worried more than once that one or all of them would get sick on the car ride or at the hotel.  When they all came home healthy, I shouldn't have been (prematurely) relieved.

I got Boom home and in bed around 4 pm yesterday.  She was dozing and watching some TV later in the evening when little Crash crawled in bed beside her and fell asleep at 6 pm - and slept through the night.

Crash went with me to take the other kids to school and stop off for groceries (two-loafer, considering the weather forecast), but he is, as I type, curled up back in bed with his big sister, sound asleep.  That does not bode well.

Tomorrow is gearing up to be a 'snow day' from school.  Which translates to a captive audience with a house full of bad germs.  Lovely.  I must plot out my quarantine system and boost my own immune system to try to prevent a full out plague.

January 30, 2011

Al Gore's coming to town for the Super Bowl, apparently

Well, most of my plans for the week are shot.  As usual I had big outdoor plans as well as plans that had me driving a significant distance on Tuesday, right when the 'wintry precipitation' is scheduled.  Headed outdoors to batten down the proverbial hatches, get hay to the horse's shelter and generally prepare for the worst.

January 29, 2011

"Just a complete over-stimulation of the senses"

The title quote is from one of the organizers of the 'Leather and Laces' Super Bowl party.

Several days ago I posted about the adult themed parties that are part of the official Super Bowl offerings.  This was, in part, my way of highlighting the mega-hypocrisy that officials have shown as they cried foul and got the state alcohol commission to drag their feet and not grant a liquor license to a 'gentlemen's club' that is near DFW Airport.

I am not a prude.  While I like to keep things mostly PG (13) around my house, for the sake of my little ones, I also have no appreciation for overzealous, squeaky clean types that think the world should be presented to kids as an unrealistic Utopia where people are never naked or mean or have sex or smoke or get drunk or commit crimes or....well, you get the idea.  On the other hand, I am not the type of parent that let's my kids run wild and 'make their own decisions' so as not to crush their fragile spirit.  That is just bullshit. 

Back to me not being a prude. 

Movie ratings exist for a reason.  TV shows even have ratings now, though I am usually smart enough to know what is considered a 'family' show and what has adult humor, on my own.  The ratings exist to help people make decisions without putting much thought into it.  Commercials are quickly becoming a concern and frequent point of discussion at Harper House.  We watch a lot of sports around here which means every erectile dysfunction drug commercial is in frequent rotation.  The 3-year old is oblivious, the 7-year old wants to know what an erection is, the 13-year old is just on the cusp of being interested in the whole erection thing and the 16-year old looks alternately horrified and curious at the thought of one that would last for more than four hours and require medical intervention.  I have also been caught short by questions about pregnancy tests, the morning after pill and herpes meds.

I suppose I know the risk we are taking when we turn on the TV, but I really thought that one safe viewing option was the evening news.  They generally will warn viewers if there is 'graphic footage'  or material that 'might be upsetting to children'.  Apparently we throw all of that out the window when the Super Bowl comes to town.

Clicked on the TV last night to watch the news and one of the lead stories was a feature on the Super Bowl parties, most notable the Playboy party.  (Remember, I'm not a prude).  When did lingerie-clad Playmates become mainstream enough that we show video of them dancing and posing on the evening news?  I know that there are people wearing less and gyrating more over on the music video channels - but this was the network news! 

We sure have come a long way from Ricky and Lucy's separate beds. 

January 28, 2011

Cahulawassee River Dance

Bonus points if you get the reference in the post title.

Here are two things that I don't like (hip hop and whatever sort of dance this is), put together in a way that provided me with a minute or two of humorous entertainment.

January 27, 2011


First, validation of the kind no one really wants.  I predicted it.  Heck, I wished for it, as running for mayor of Chicago got Rahm the heck out of D.C. Over on GOC, most of us agreed that the Illinois Supreme Court would overturn the appellate court decision about Rahm's residency kerfluffle.  They did.  He is running.  He should win.  My apologies to Leslie, since she will have to live with the result, but, sheesh, who is a better choice?  If nothing else, he is tough and he has experience and he can form coherent sentences - things that many of his challengers lack.  I will be anxious to see the outcome of the Chicago election.

Second, validation of the best kind.  Read this lovely story about a coach that died too young and how his team has honored his memory.  When I think about my own death, the one constant hope I have is that I will have made a difference in someone's life and that I will be remembered fondly.  Like Scott Lang.

Wake up, webmaster

I am wondering how long it will take someone over on the Fox News website team to realize that they have posted a picture of Tiger Woods and one of his, um, female friends, in accompaniment to a story about Sumatran tiger cubs.  Oops.

Here is the screenshot:

January 26, 2011

An Idol Surprise

As I walked through the living room tonight, there was Boom, in true multi-tasking teenager form, tapping away on her laptop doing a biology lab write up, texting a friend and watching TV.  She was watching American Idol.  I'm not a fan, but occasionally watch with train wreck-like fascination during the audition weeks.  Who are these people that think they have talent?  Is every member of their family tone deaf or do they just blindly (and deaf-ly) support their loved one?

As I entered the living room, Idol was going into a featurette on one of the contestants.  This generally indicates a really bad audition or a really good audition.  I paused to watch.  The story was about a guy whose fiance was in an accident in 2009 that left her with a traumatic brain injury.  On the TV, this fella says something to the effect of, '...We were two months away from taking a vow to love one another in sickness and in health.  What kind of guy would I be if I didn't stick with her?'  A real prince of a guy.  Seriously.

Now that I was sucked in, I sat down on the couch.  This is always where it gets sticky.  Now that we are all invested in this guy's personal story, what will we do if his singing sucks? 

Thank goodness, it didn't.  He sang beautifully.

I was a little uneasy when the judging panel of Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler asked Chris to bring his fiance in to meet them.  I have no patience for the exploitation of someone that is incapable of speaking for themselves. 

Randy and Jennifer shook her hand and introduced themselves.  I thought it kind of sweet that J-Lo said, 'Hi, I'm Jennifer...Lopez', like she was going to be confused with some other Jennifer in the room.

Now I have always loved Aerosmith's music.  I have always thought Steven Tyler to be a character.  I had a little interaction and brief conversation with him at a concert some years ago that verified the character label. 

On Idol, Steven bent down and hugged that girl in her wheelchair.  He stroked her hair and whispered some things in her ear.  It wasn't the least bit manufactured or false.  Granted, the producers may be using it in ways that it wasn't intended, but the fact remains that Steven Tyler didn't hesitate to embrace that sweet girl.  He may be a rock star and he may be a little over the top, but he clearly has a kind heart.  He's one of the Good Guys in my book. 

RIP Charlie Louvin

When I was in Nashville last fall, there was much talk of Charlie and the benefit they were planning to have (and did have at the end of October) to help out with his medical bills.  Many of the musicians I know cover a Louvin tune or two.  The brothers, and then Charlie on his own, influenced music more than most people know.

Like a name change can make you play better...

Ochocinco wants his Johnson back.

I just thought that was funny.  No doubt CenTexTim with hammer me for the double entendre, again.

January 25, 2011

See no evil, hear no evil

I didn't watch the state of the union.  I have many good reasons for this.  It was my birthday and I felt that watching something that would alternate between making me throw up and causing me to put my foot through our new television, wasn't an activity worthy of my time.

Despite the celebratory nature of the day, parental duties still called, with one kid needing a ride to a basketball game, one kid heading to Scouts and one kid performing in a school music program.  The latter requiring my attendance, of course.  May I just say that a kindergarten through third grade musical program was infinitely more enjoyable than the thought of listening to Blowie make a speech.

Usually by now I would have read the transcript.  I tried, but just can't do it right now.  I read a few lines and then all I hear in my head is, 'blah, blah, blah'.  He doesn't mean any of it.  Blowie has broken so many promises and, more recently, abandoned so many of the platforms that he ran on, that it isn't even fun to pick apart his SOTU.  We know he is lying, or, best case, desperately hoping for some magic pixie dust to make us all forget the horror of the past two years.  We know that his words weren't chosen to actually paint a picture of the state of our union, but instead were crafted to hit all of the critical political touchpoints that the Democrats think need massaging as they gear up to get Blowie re-elected.

I resent how the SOTU has become this carefully choreographed dramatization that highlights members of the public that are in attendance.  As I skimmed the speech transcript, it looks like the prez had in attendance some sick people that are counting on Obamacare to prevail.  That's just too maudlin for me.  Trot out the cancer people.  Gah.  Today was the day that Aunt Em's hair was expected to fall out.  She's paying $700 a month for the privilege of having health insurance and they are facing bankruptcy because of the cost of her care.  Put that on display, Blowie.

There were corporate CEOs in the chamber, for the cameras to cut to when Blowie talked about how he is going help out businesses.  There was also a considerable contingent of wounded soldiers.  I forget, what is Blowie's military service record?

It's all about who is invited and where they sit, and how the cameras are cued during Blowie's speech.  Disgusting.  But, this headline from the White House's website made me giggle:

Guest List for the First Lady's Box at the State of the Union Address

She must have one big box, since it warrants a guest list and accommodates 26 at a time.

Think outside of the cow

I haven't eaten at Taco Bell in years.  It was a staple when I was a teenager, because it was cheap and I had little to no gastronomic discretion.  Any curiosity I had about the current menu at Taco Bell was satisfied with this news item:
An Alabama law firm claims in a lawsuit that Taco Bell is using false advertising when it refers to using "seasoned ground beef" or "seasoned beef" in its products.
The meat mixture sold by Taco Bell restaurants contains binders and extenders and does not meet the minimum requirements set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to be labeled as "beef," according to the legal complaint.
The class-action lawsuit was filed Friday in federal court in the Central District of California by the Montgomery law firm Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles.
Attorney Dee Miles said attorneys had Taco Bell's "meat mixture" tested and found it contained less that 35 percent beef.
What kind of a world are we living in, that 'beef' only has to contain 35% beef to be called 'beef'? 
The lawsuit says that Taco Bell's "seasoned beef" contains other ingredients, including water, wheat oats, soy lecithin, maltodrextrin, anti-dusting agent and modified corn starch.
Anti-dusting agent?  WTF is that for?  Meat isn't dusty.

I realize that much of what we willingly consume contains things that most people would rather not know about.  When the majority of people stopped having to butcher their own animals and make their own sausage, they built in a comfortable level of denial, choosing to forget what is stuffed in those casings.  Hot dogs are an all-American favorite but nobody wants to know what is in them.

I made the mistake of reading the ingredient list on a package of chorizo the other day.  Needless to say, we didn't come home with it.
I don't like the idea of a society that files a lawsuit over what is in Taco Bell 'meat'.  On the other hand, shouldn't there be some expectation that 'beef' is little more than that - not just 35% beef?  I don't know if there is a solution.  I worked in the restaurant industry a long time, Mr Harper still does.  If restaurants had to list their ingredients and preparation methods on the menu, many more people would eat at home.

Our collective pursuit of the American Dream has bred generations of people that will stretch the truth or lie outright to promote their products and ideas.  There are also millions of people that aren't offended by the dishonesty.   Is there a pathway to fixing our community integrity?

January 24, 2011


Cam Cardow is my featured FOD cartoonist today.

January 23, 2011

Yet another view of what 'free' costs

No offense to all of my educator friends, because I know how much of their own resources they use to teach their students. BUT...I am going broke buying items that teachers require. What happened to a 'free' public education?

This year it is books that are killing me. Whatever happened to a classroom set of books? We love books, but really, most of the books that are required school reading are not what my kids want to own as leisure time reading books.

My 11th grader is reading works by Thomas Mann and Albert Camus this semester, so I can understand the need for a specific translation. The Diploma Programme for IB students is a two-year process, so she needs to have her own copy of each book, with highlighted sections, notes in the margin and to use as reference material as she refines the papers she has to submit for external assessments.

Luckily, the translations are the only restrictions for her. Since we live near a college town with an awesome used book store, we can usually find many of the books she needs at a discounted price. Boom is smart enough to look for the books with lots of margin notes, knowing that the prior owner may be providing help or a perspective she wouldn't think of.

On the other hand, my 7th grader is required to have specific, NEW copies of the books his class is using. At the used bookstore we don't have any problem finding unmarked books, but even a prior owner's name inside the front cover is verboten. Currently, Bang is doing a trans-disciplinary study of Antigone for English and theater arts. Antigone is open source, non-copyrighted material. You can legally download and print it. But no, that isn't good enough. The translation and edition that his teachers required is $12.95, just for Antigone - it doesn't even have the other Theban plays.

Adding to my irritation is that several of the required books this year aren't readily available. Midaq Alley, Time of the Doves, Death in Venice and Madame Bovary all had to be ordered, so tack shipping costs on to my tab.

If there is a bright side, we get to go to Recycled Books often, and I love me some Recycled Books. If you are ever in Denton, Texas, you must visit. They have books, video and music - in CD and album formats. Yes, they have vinyl.  I'm not an expert, but I would guess that there are some real treasures among all those bins full of obscure albums.

I'm going to have to sort through my books to find what I don't ever plan on reading again.  Maybe if I can sell enough of them back to Recycled Books, I will be able to afford the kid's summer reading list for next year.

Move south, my Canadian friends

I first saw this on Fox News last week.  I hereby re-commit to be more thankful of my home state of Texas, even when it gets 'cold'.  Even when Mother Nature defies Pope Gore and provides freezing precipitation that paralyzes our entire region.  Despite spending my earliest years in, what I consider to be, the frozen tundra of Kansas - I clearly do not appreciate what 'cold' really is. 

This does lead me to wonder, why the heck do people live in places like this?

January 22, 2011

Overseas outsourcing of drug manufacturing saves lives.

Just not the right ones.

I think it was Ron White, of Blue Collar Comedy fame, who said that while other states were trying to abolish the death penalty, Texas was putting in an express lane.   Unless they can plug Old Sparky back in, executions just slowed to a crawl.

The 34 states that use lethal injection as their means of execution have long used a combination of three drugs, sodium thiopental, potassium chloride and pancuronium bromide.

Toward the end of 2010, there were several news stories about a shortage of one of the drugs used for lethal injection executions; sodium thiopental.  Sodium thiopental had been made by a company called Hospira.  For unknown or unannounced reasons, Hospira decided to move manufacture of the drug from its North Carolina plant to a plant in Italy last year.  Italian authorities intervened and demanded an assurance that the drug would not be used for executions.  Rather than move the manufacturing of sodium thiopental back to the North Carolina plant, Hospira announced that they would stop making the drug.  It is important to note that in their press release and various interviews, they make clear that they never condoned the use of their drug for executions, which makes it seem like they are using the Italian government's objections as an excuse. 

At the end of 2009, Ohio began employing a single drug lethal injection, using only sodium thiopental.  Since December of 2009, they have executed four people this way.  Washington state began using the single drug method in September of 2010.

It seems glaringly obvious to me that Hospira could live with being one of three drugs used to execute convicted criminals, but once they had the notoriety of being solely responsible, it just became too much to bear.

Sure, other companies make it, but none in the U.S.  Sourcing the drug from outside of the country is going to be an expensive, arduous legal process.  The only people that will ultimately benefit from this decision are the lawyers, and all of them will be arguing their interpretation of the Eight Amendment:
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. 
The Eight Amendment was ratified in 1791.  While death penalty opponents and proponents argue the last phrase, no one seems to have any problem with the gross violations of the first two phrases in the amendment.  Excessive bail amounts are levied every day, in every state.  Excessive fines are imposed at the same rate.  No one has an issue with setting bail that no one could ever hope to make, or imposing a financial penalty that can never be met.  Yet we continually try to re-define what 'cruel and unusual' means.

We have missed the boat on the greatest crime deterrent known to man - witnessing an execution.  We have regulated, codified, sanitized and prettied up a system that was always intended to punish.  We house, clothe, feed, nurse and entertain convicted rapists and murderers.  Our prison system is a multi-billion dollar industry that seeks to preserve the lives of those who have ruined or ended the lives of others.

Hanging wasn't considered cruel and unusual when the Eighth Amendment was enacted.  What makes it so now?  I have long said that executions should be public.  I would march my kids to the courthouse lawn each time someone was going to swing.  I would pay to watch it - put it on Pay Per View.  Stream it to mobile devices.

Public executions - there oughtta be an app for that.

January 21, 2011

Phone Games

I've been saving some articles to do a post about all the things that today's youth will never know.  The combination of a new decade and a new year spawned several such lists, but I haven't yet found time to form my thoughts around them. Earlier this week I was presented with a real life example of how different telephone use has become.

We generally listen to the same morning radio show on the way to school each day.  It is your basic Top 40 format on a satellite station, and I let my kids choose it since Mr Harper makes them listen to Mike & Mike in the Morning when he drives them.

We aren't normally a radio call-in family.  It is usually enough for us to listen along to the various games and trivia contests and guess among ourselves, waiting to hear the answer.  But on one recent morning, the game was a 'guess the song' sort of thing wherein one of the deejays sings it in a completely different style.  Two or three words in, The Princess shouted out the answer, and begged me to call in.  Since I was driving, I delegated the task to Boom, who picked up her phone and started dialing.  The number they had given on the radio was something like '888-555-HITS'.  Boom started dialing and then stopped, turned to me and said, 'How do I dial letters?'.

You have got to be kidding me! 

I explained that she should push the numbers that had the corresponding letters on them - kind of like reverse text on a phone that didn't have a full QWERTY keypad.

Boom got the number dialed and then sat there with the phone up to her ear.  We all waited, anxiously, and after 15 or 20 seconds, I asked her if it was still ringing.  'No, there is a really fast beeping noise,' she replied, and continued to sit there with the phone up to her ear.

Holy Cow!  My teenage daughter has no clue what an 'all circuits busy' tone sounds like and was content to sit there listening to it.  She has no radio contest call-in experience.  Hang up and redial! She doesn't have the rapid redial skills that I honed to perfection trying to be the 5th caller or buying concert tickets the minute they went on sale.  That only being when I couldn't camp out in the mall parking lot, waiting for the Ticketmaster window at Sears to open so I could get Texas Jam tickets.

How the telephone world has changed.   

Caller I.D. has, I am sure, changed the entire teenage friendship and dating dynamic.  Can't call and hang up checking to see if your boyfriend is really home, or trying to hear if there is someone there in the background.  Or hanging up when the parent that hates you answers.  Remember hanging up from one friend, and speed dialing another friend, sure that the person you just hung up from was doing the same - and desperately wanting to get through first?  Remember trying to call your boyfriend or girlfriend and getting a busy signal, then trying to call someone else and their line was busy?  Proof that they were cheating (or that you were paranoid). 

Can't take the phone off the hook anymore. Since everyone has call waiting a busy signal freaks people out.

Anyone else use 'emergency break-throughs' in the days before call waiting?  Me and my friends always did it, using celebrity names that we had decided on.  Using our real names would have caused trouble, were it a parent that was on the line when the operator broke in.  I used 'Geddy Lee' and not one single operator ever questioned the fact that I was female.  Obviously not Rush fans.

My kid has a phone that she can stick in her pocket.  I invested a good chunk of allowance in extension cords for the phone in our family room, so I could stretch it to the bathroom for some privacy.  My 14th birthday present was getting a phone jack in my room.  In hindsight, I am sure that was more of a gift to my mom, than to me.

Nowadays, people freak out when someone doesn't answer their text, email or cellphone.  Boom was trying to reach a friend via each of those methods one day and looked at me like I had two heads when I suggested trying their home phone number. 

Now it is sexting and GPS tracking.  Games, apps, music collections - all on a phone.  'Smart', they call them. Sheesh, I kinda wish phones were still tethered to cords.

January 20, 2011

It all depends on how you define 'FREE'

Yesterday my errands took me to a local charity resale store.  Outside the front door a local dental service was advertising their services and giving away free cotton candy.  I shit you not, I took a picture of the sign:

Job Insurance

I have been seeing these 'Smile Magic' dental centers pop up in my area.  I am unclear on whether they are a franchise sort of thing, or just a single owner with a couple of different locations.  I found a separate website for each of the locations in my area, but their 'tour the office' and 'meet the team' photos are the same.

What spurred my interest, is that Smile Magic prominently advertises that they provide 'Free Dental Care for Kids' and half-priced braces.  They even employ those annoying sign spinning guys that stand on the corner. Their signs don't say 'Free Dental Care for SOME or MOST Kids', just 'Free for Kids'.  I wondered how they were doing this.  Is it a non-profit foundation funded venture?  Was it dentists in training?  Some sort of free kid for each paying adult deal?

Sadly, no.  In this case, as in so many others, 'free' means 'free to the recipient'.  'We' are paying for it:

January 19, 2011

Darwin nominees

Despite being the sports editor, Boom was assigned the task of writing about the Australian floods for her school newspaper.  I hope she can work this into her article:
A bizarre decision to ride an inflatable doll down a flood-swollen Yarra River in Australia blew up in a woman’s face yesterday when she lost her latex playmate in a rough patch.
The incident prompted a warning from police that blow-up sex toys are "not recognized flotation devices’’.
Police and a State Emergency Services crew were called to the rescue when the woman and a man, both 19, struck trouble at Warrandyte North about 4.30pm yesterday.
They were floating down the river on two inflatable dolls and had just passed the Pound Bend Tunnel when the woman lost her toy in turbulent water.

You have to spend money to save money

Voting 399 - 0 in favor of passing the bill is overshadowed by the stupidity that was required for the bill to be considered:
The House of Representatives on Tuesday unanimously approved a bill to stop the mandatory printing of congressional documents -- unfortunately for the sponsor, the government had to print another 1,000 pages in order for the House to consider the proposal. 
In yet another example of how unintentionally amusing Washington can be, the Government Printing Office was required to provide Congress with 325 copies of the three-page bill, according to the office of author Rep. Chris Lee, R-N.Y. The GPO typically prints between 325 and 475 copies of any bill or resolution, and this one was no exception. 
Lee spokesman Matthew Harakal acknowledged the frustration in having to print more copies in order to stop the printing of more copies. But he said if all goes well, the practice should soon draw to a close. The bill would order the GPO to stop the excessive printing and instead provide digital copies to Congress via the Internet. 
While I am all for the House going 'paperless', I have to wonder...if 399 members voted on the proposal, how many didn't read it?  There were only 325 copies provided.  Did those other 74 people share a copy with someone or just take Rep. Lee at his word?
Surely Congress will pass this legislation.  But, beware something ridiculous getting tacked on to it.

January 18, 2011

I wonder if there will be free T-shirts at the state dinner?

In what alternate universe is 'Regis Philbin leaving Live' an urgent, breaking news item, worthy of the big red ticker at the top of nearly every major news outlet's website?

I also don't care that some HBO actress got drunk, fell down and then crossed the street with her left breast exposed.  Also a front page item for the same news outlets.

I understand that there is a need to provide the news that people seek.  I understand that there are people who live and breathe by the actions of various celebrities.  I think that the 'Entertainment' tab is plenty of content for the front page, let those folks click through.  Maybe they will spend a few extra seconds reading some important headlines in their search for the controversy over Sandra Bullock's bangs or Anne Hathaway playing a lesbian on Glee.

I will admit that I like the off-beat, non-vital stories, like the little boy in Oklahoma that stuck his tongue to a pole, Christmas Story style.  I was amused by the rendering of 'The Last Supper', in dryer lint.

I don't even know who Holly Madison is, much less have an opinion on whether she needs to lose weight for an acting role.

Meanwhile, Blowie and the first Wookie are spending our tax dollars to throw a lavish state dinner for the leader of a country that holds at least $1 trillion of our debt.  I hope they thank Hu for underwriting the cost of the event.  I'm not even sure which analogy to use anymore.  How about the naked emperor fiddling while Rome burns?

If Blowie were actually naked and playing a violin, he might make some Entertainment news headlines that the people that got him elected could see and realize what a bang up job he is doing.

January 17, 2011

Easy targets

I missed out on this last night.  Okay, let's be honest, I wouldn't have been watching it, even if I wasn't having a little carpet picnic with three of my kids, while Mr Harper and Bang are on a Scouting adventure in Corpus Christi.  I am thankful for the friends that emailed me this link.  Nothing like a pants-wetting funny monologue to start the week:

January 15, 2011

Is anyone coming to town for the football?

The law of unintended consequences strikes again.  As CenTexTim posted a week or so back, several Fort Worth area leaders started to make a stink about a 'gentlemen's club' that was under construction near DFW Airport.  Some local mayors and council members decided that seeing a 'Rick's Cabaret' sign near the airport might reflect unfavorably on their fair cities, as people begin flying in for Super Bowl XLV festivities.
The Mayor of Fort Worth, Texas made a formal complaint and, lo and behold, there is some hold up in granting the liquor license to this club.  One of the funny things about Texas liquor laws is that, when associated with a 'gentlemen's club', the amount and type of alcohol sold is tied to the level of nudity and on stage activities that can take place.  If the club isn't SELLING alcohol, there are no such restrictions.  So, for all their whining, city leaders now have an ALL NUDE BYOB club.  Now that's classy.
For an even more blatant display of hypocrisy, one needs to look no further than the schedule of events sanctioned by the North Texas Super Bowl committee.  Fans flying in for the game have their choice of several adult-themed events, should they manage to miss Rick's out by the airport.  Among them:

XXX Bowl Encroachment - "...Held at the hottest adult night club in DFW,...Featuring hot tubs and a full service bar! ...Make your way into Club INIQUITY to spend the rest of your night at the sexiest, hottest adult club and lounge"

Penthouse Super Party - held at American Airline's Center Platinum Club. Spend the evening with athletes, musician, tastemakers, and of course Penthouse Magazines SuperPets! One of the hottest parties year after year at one of Dallas' finest venues.

Willis & Woy Sports Group present Dallas Super Bash hosted by Pamela Anderson - hosted by Pamela Anderson with special guests Brandie Moses and Jessica Hall (Co hosts of Playboy Radio).

Pot meet kettle.

There is only one Super Bowl related event that I have any interest in.  I will be calling in some favors to see if I can score tickets to the Gene Simmons Aces and Angles Salute to the Troops.  Can't you see me on an upcoming episode of Family Jewels?

Phonetic Help Wanted

I haven't had the TV on to hear the news, and reading this one puts me at a disadvantage...

Can someone tell me how to pronounce Reince Priebus?

January 14, 2011

Together We Profit

And this is how we do it in America:
(KVOA) — Over 26,000 people attended last night’s memorial service for the six people tragically killed Saturday, and the University of Arizona has received a flood of requests for T-shirts commemorating this service.
At this time, they are unable to provide information on where to get a shirt commemorating “Together We Thrive: Tucson and America,” but they will provide that information soon.
The UA Office of Student Affairs is handling requests for T-shirts – those interested can call them and leave contact information. The office will send out information on how to obtain a shirt at a later date.
Call the UA Office of Student Affairs at: 520-621-3772
Six innocent people get murdered by a nutcase and somebody has to make a buck.  Congratulations to the University of Arizona for perpetuating this crass act of thoughtlessness.

At least there is no guessing as to what Blowie's 2012 campaign theme will be.

I like how Judi McLeod of Canada Free Press sums it up:
University of Arizona brass did not originate the “Together We Thrive” T-shirt.  They merely recycled it for Obama—and recycled it in time for what should have been a dignified Memorial for the dead.
If you were a mourner who took home a “Together We Thrive” T-shirt have a look at the bottom of your shirt.  “Rocking America and Rocking the Vote” is a common theme of the DNC,  and it’s right there on your Memorial T-shirt memento.
Welcome to the era of Obama, where cheering and standing ovations, for the first time in history, became part of the Requiem for the Dead.

January 13, 2011

Did you...watch the presidents....speech...last night?

Did you watch the president's speech?  How was it?

I just can't listen to him talk.  The tone and the rhythm of his speech just bug me.  I usually end up reading the transcript. Sometimes that leads me to wonder, WTF?, even more than normal and I have to cue up the speech to see if he really said what the transcript says he said.  Did he really say, 'Gabby opened her eyes', four times? Why, yes he did, just like a preacher.

My 'thing' to do in high school was to compete in speech and debate events.  I spent countless hours speaking and practicing speaking.  In extemporaneous speech you are given a current event topic and have 30 minutes in a room with printed resources like magazines and newspapers, with which to formulate a speech that is no longer than 7 minutes.  At the end of 30 minutes, you leave the preparation room and go into the judging room to give your speech with nothing other than a 3 x 5 card worth of notes and the slip of paper naming your topic.

In debate, I was both a Lincoln-Douglas and Team debater.  Both require cross examination and rebuttals to the opposing view - not things that can be planned completely in advance.

Even now, some *mumble-mumble* years later, I can't read a speech.  Earlier this week I had a presentation to make.  I never used my notes (which isn't always a good thing - I say things I shouldn't!).  I am just more comfortable talking - not reading out loud.

I have never had an opportunity or reason to use a Teleprompter.  My mom was telling me that she was supposed to have used one for a corporate speech some years ago, but that she couldn't adjust to the thing showing four words at a time.  Ding!  The light bulb went on.  That's what bothers me about Blowie's speeches!  He speaks in four to six word bursts, with the pauses and emphasis in all the wrong places. 

Even if I could stand to listen to him, I wouldn't have last night.  Yesterday afternoon on the radio, they played soundbites from past presidential speeches after great tragedies.  Most of them, even when I didn't necessarily agree with the politics of the speaker, contained comforting and/or inspiring words.  I can't imagine this president saying anything that I could find comfort in.  And that is a shame.

January 12, 2011

I hope your son is paying close attention to the example you are setting

My stepdad has one living sibling, a brother, my Uncle Mo.  Uncle Mo and Aunt Em grew up, married and raised their kids in Texas, then moved to El Centro, California for a number of years for work, before coming back to Texas 5 or 6 years ago.  Both of their kids are grown and married. Their daughter recently moved to Germany with her (former Marine, now civilian contractor) husband. Their son is in the Air Force, stationed at Tinker AFB in Oklahoma, with orders to move to Turkey in March.

When Uncle Mo and Aunt Em first moved back to Texas, they lived in San Antonio near their son who was stationed there at the time and then moved to the Dallas-Fort Worth a couple of years ago, when their son and daughter-in-law were transferred to Oklahoma City.  Living in DFW meant they were near all of us and just a couple of hours from their son and only grandchild.  The son takes full advantage of the situation as he and his wife are uber-paranoid parents.  When they all lived in San Antonio the grandparents were the built in babysitters, which didn't bother them a bit.  Despite living in OKC for nearly two years now, Precious Son and D-I-L are unable to find a baby sitter that they can trust with their kid.  They routinely ask Uncle Mo and Aunt Em to drive to OKC to baby sit, for important occasions like date night.

In early 2010, Aunt Em was diagnosed with cancer.  She went through the obligatory surgery and radiation treatment and was doing well for several months.  Just before Thanksgiving, her check up signaled some problems.  Subsequent surgery and tests revealed that the cancer has metastasized to her lungs and beyond.  Precious son and his wife made a trip down while Aunt Em was hospitalized after her surgery - a trip to Dallas to go Christmas shopping.  They visited with her briefly and then had to hit the mall.  Once she was discharged, they were on the road back home within the hour.

You don't need to know Aunt Em, or much about her cancer, to figure out that the prognosis isn't encouraging.  For awhile, we thought that maybe they hadn't told their kids how serious it was.  Some other circumstances have come up that spurred discussion that makes it clear that precious son knows all that he needs to know to make the appropriate decisions - he just chooses not to.

Aunt Em starts chemo Friday. Her precious son ships his household goods the following week.  Spending a good number of years married to a military officer, I have a little knowledge about how things work - and have been asking, since November, why Precious Son isn't deferring his move.   The heartbreaking answer is; he doesn't want to.

Precious son has convinced his sister and parents that a humanitarian deferment will 'wreck his career' and that he will end up in Afghanistan if he defers.  GMAFB.  He is a mid-level NCO, who makes no secret of the fact that the AF is his college tuition meal ticket and now he is just holding out for retirement. He's been lying to his family for years, using manufactured excuses about what the military will or will not allow him to do to get out of any event he doesn't want to attend or anything he doesn't want to be responsible for.  I have been silent, because up until now, they were mostly harmless little tales designed to keep his parents off his back about mostly inconsequential matters.

Now his mom is dying and he is leaving the country.  The mounting bills mean that Uncle Mo has to go back to work and won't be able to nurse Aunt Em 24/7.  Precious Son can't be bothered and has dumped all of the responsibility on his sister.  P.O.S. Son can't drive down from Oklahoma, but his sister managed to get here from Germany.

As an adult child, if your parents called you, overcome with sadness and confusion - and you lived two hours away, would you not do everything within your power to get to them and help them in any way that you could?  If your mom was sick, and chances were that she wouldn't be here at the end of your two year overseas tour - wouldn't you try to stay in the states, career be damned?

My family doesn't read this blog, for reasons just like this.  Some of them are selfish pieces of shit who wouldn't appreciate seeing their assholedness put out on display for the whole world to see.

Do as we say, not as we do to sell it to you

Wednesday is trash day in our neighborhood.  As we were gathering things up last night, Mr Harper asked if we were ready to trash the holiday greenery.  Each year a local Cub Scout pack sells an assortment of wreaths and other fresh cut evergreen items for the Christmas season.

In addition to a lovely outdoor wreath, I had ordered one of these:

A 'Candlelit Centerpiece'.  As marketed in the lovely promotional photograph, we had enjoyed several evenings of candlelit loveliness amid the fragrant boughs of greenery over the past few weeks.

The candle is in a glass votive worth saving and as I was removing it, I found a tag tucked among the greenery.  A 'care and use' instruction pamphlet that I had missed when it arrived.  Imagine my surprise upon reading the third instruction:

Obviously, any open flame is worthy of an abundance of caution, but should a company promote a product that they, in turn, discourage using in the manner in which it is named, photographed, marketed and sold?

January 11, 2011

Balmy North Texas

My thermometer read 20.3 degrees this morning.  There is a 15 mph north wind.  The remains of snow, freezing drizzle and 3 inches of rain have hardened into a solid mass of crunchy coldness.

This ain't what I signed up for when I left northeast Kansas so many years ago.

Here is my simple request.  I want to live where:

There are no violent weather occurrences.  No tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, monsoons, extreme drought or constant rain.

The average relative humidity is around 30%. 

I would prefer it to be on the warm side.  I like some really hot days, just not more than, let's say, four in a row. 

I don't mind a little bit of pretty, fluffy, white snow.  As long as it is a rare event and doesn't inconvenience me.  It should melt completely away before it gets all dirty and slushy.

I like mostly clear blue sky.  A few puffy clouds floating by are acceptable.  If it is going to rain, it should rain.  None of this day long drizzle junk, pour down, then get it over with.  No gray sky for days.

Rainbows are good, on occasion.  That re-iterates my rain, then be done and let the sun shine point.

Breezes are good, windy days should be very few.

Four seasons would be nice.  I am a bit weary of switching my thermostat from cool to heat (and vice versa) without the system ever being idle.

Any suggestions of where I might find this paradise on Earth?

January 10, 2011

A Wake Up Call

Have you ever been so disgusted with someone that you couldn't even decide what imaginary form of physical contact you would unleash on them, given the chance?  Nothing real violent or anything, just an attention-getter.  The kind of thing that says, 'You sorry S.O.B., you better straighten the hell out and listen to what I have to tell you."

I have a family member that needs to wake the hell up and do the right thing, but he isn't.  My first inclination is to junk punch him.  That results in an instant response, and I really want him to experience the whole package, not just lie on the floor curled up in the fetal position, crying.

A good slap across the face seems better suited to a romance movie, though if coupled with a pointed insult, could be appropriate to the situation.

I could kick him in the shin or stomp on his toes, either would express the righteous indignation that I am feeling and be appropriate for the age he is acting.  Neither would be quite as painful as I would like, though.

What it seems I will be settling for is words.  Stark, biting, brutally honest words.  A letter, I think, because email just doesn't cut it for some things and I like to think of him holding the paper and reading it - not just hitting delete on his keyboard.

And yet...hand delivering the letter and sucker punching him when he opens the door, would be so much more satisfying.

January 9, 2011

Give John the big hammer thing.

See if you can name the author of this gem:
On Wednesday, as I was waiting for my old friend and golfing buddy, John Boehner, to be sworn in as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives, much to my dismay, I had to listen to Comrade Pelosi's drivel about how wonderful her "reign" had been, and how she and her "cronies" had protected the poor and the children BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH...how wonderful her family is, and how brilliant JFK was. (By the way, he would roll over in his grave if he were to see what has become of the Democratic Party....Remember this, "Ask not what your country can do for you, rather, ask what you can do for your country." HOLY OBAMACARE BATMAN...and let's just go ahead and extend the unemployment benefits, so that they run out...well, NEVER!!)
Any guesses?

The paragraph above is taken from an opinion piece on Fox News, which the author begins by recounting the lyrics to (Have I Stayed) Too Long At The Fair? by Billy Barnes, as an illustration of Nancy Pelosi loitering at the Speaker's podium - and the House itself, in general.

A later paragraph is no less pointed:
And speaking of "just sitting down"...Nancy, please, SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP!! You are no longer the Speaker/G-5 passenger/briber/backroom, arm- twisting dirty deal maker/purveyor of crappola/truth avoider.....Sit down, Nancy. You have stayed too long at the fair. Give John the big hammer "thing" before someone has to pry it from your grubby little hands. -- This would all be very embarrassing were it not for the fact that you and your ilk are totally unembarrassable!
 Have you guessed the author yet?

Ready for a hint?  I think that most people of a certain age, regardless of their taste in music, will probably get this.

'All the gold
In California
Is in a bank in the middle of Beverly Hills
In somebody else's name.'

When I saw the Gatlin Brothers in concert, they would sing, '...in Kenny Roger's name...'.  I am sure that ages me.

Larry Gatlin is the author of the opinion piece.  You can read the whole thing here.  And take a look at this and this, for more changing of the guard Speaker entertainment.

January 8, 2011

Bonus Blonde Joke

GOC always posts a Saturday blonde joke, which I usually find funny, even though I kinda am one.  I thought I would join in this week:

January 6, 2011

I bet he's awesome at Tetris

This morning after dropping the kids at school, I needed to stop by Home Depot to pick up a few things.  Among the items on my list were some 1 x 2 x 8 furring strips. 

I miss having a truck, having owned four of them in my lifetime.  Having a family of six leaves me with few choices.  Three members of my family, me among them, refuse to ride in a minivan unless absolutely necessary, therefore, I have a hulk of an SUV as my daily driver.  The third row of seats folds over, up and/or can be removed completely.  This morning, I just folded the back of the third row seat down and stowed the lumber. 

As I was loading it, I couldn't help but notice the gentleman across the row from me.  He also had the big orange flatbed cart with large pieces of lumber, along with a 4 x 6 piece of pre-welded thick wire mesh and about 8 bags of Quikrete.  He was driving what looked to be about a 1996 four door Ford Escort. 

I watched in amazement as he rolled down the front passenger side window and angled the lumber in, running it diagonally from the back window rear deck on the driver's side out the front passenger window.  He loaded the Quikrete into the trunk, the bumper getting closer to the ground with each bag.  Then he adroitly rolled the wire panel into a large cylinder and slipped it in the trunk, leaving the lid open, but secured with a bungee cord.

This 5 minute display of excellent spatial relation skill is replayed several times a day at the big box home improvement stores, though more often than not, it is a failure.  The Home Depot, some years ago, began offering 'rent by the hour' trucks, specifically to address the number of people that get out there in the parking lot and discover that they can't fit a new water heater in the back of a Prius.

Several times I have caught myself beginning to offer to transport some hapless woman's load.  I got to thinking today, that someone could be making some extra money on the side, if they have spare time and a truck.  Just hang out at Home Depot and offer to help out people who buy more than they can fit in their car.   $5 or $10 bucks a trip would be a nice little stash of mad money after a couple of weekends.

January 5, 2011

Plumbing Disaster day, um, 9, I think

My yard is still in tatters.  It figures that the one professionally landscaped area of my yard is the one they had to dig through.  My landscaper is also a friend and neighbor, who stopped by yesterday and re-planted the Burford Holly and Texas Sage they had removed.  He is going to bring his tractor over and smooth out the ruts that the tracks on the backhoe left in the grass and spread out the sand they left behind.  The big bare area used to have a big patch of Sedum.  It is usually very invasive, I filled two other large beds last summer with the excess from this one.  It might come back, we'll have to wait and see.

I am a fairly intelligent person.  I visualize most things really well.  I can not grasp 'yards' of sand, dirt, concrete, etc..  When it came time to run the new sewer line to the septic tank, the plumber told me that they would need about 3 yards of sand to bed it in.  The minimum order delivered by truck around here is 10 yards.  They asked me if I was willing to accept 7 extra yards of sand or if I wanted to pay twice as much for them to go to Home Depot and buy what they needed in bags.  I have four kids, they love to play in sand.  I have heavy clay in parts of my yard, sand would be a good additive. 'Bring on the truck,' I said.

Crap!  7 yards of sand is more than I had envisioned spreading around with my wheelbarrow and shovel.  Thankfully, my friend-with-a-tractor is going to spread it for me.  In the meantime, Crash loves it.

Today the flooring people came to finish the concrete slab patch, replace the padding and re-stretch the carpet.  They did the concrete work and then left for a few hours to allow it to dry.  *It is important to note that I am wearing a Washington Redskins sweatshirt today*.  I must come across as a pretty easy-going person, as they had no qualms about showing off their handiwork:

 If my teenage daughter hadn't been sleeping on her mattress in the middle of the living room floor for nine days, I would have fought this battle. They had already cleaned up, emptied and washed the concrete buckets and tools, put everything away. It just wasn't worth it. As it is, the star is right in the path that leads to the bathroom. I like the imagery of Boom and her friends stomping on the Cowboy's star on their way to squat.

If all goes as planned (and after all of this, why wouldn't it?), we can move Boom back into her room tomorrow.  It was nice seeing her face so much - she usually has her nose in a book sprawled across her bed.  At the same time, it will be nice to reclaim my bedroom and living room.  I wonder if I could keep the Twilight wolf pack poster a little longer?!

It's the spending, stupid.

You might have noticed that the debt clock in my sidebar ticked over the $14 trillion mark. Yikes! Can you imagine that amount of money? The Chinese can.

Yesterday on Fox News, I heard Megyn Kelly mention a little factoid about that amount of debt; if you were to spend $1,000 per second, it would take you 444 years to spend $14 trillion dollars. She went on to say that if William Shakespeare, born in 1564, had begun spending $1,000 per second from birth, he would have just recently exhausted all $14 trillion. By my calculations, it would be more like 2008, but the Shakespeare illustration probably puts our spending in a new light for some folks.

What is even more disturbing is the increase in our debt since Blowie took office. Libs are quick to say that the national debt doubled under Bush's leadership. Not quite. Using the historical 'debt to the penny' records search on the U.S. Treasury's website, I found that the national debt when W took office (on January 20, 2001) was $5,727,776,738,304.64. Eight years later, when he left office, the national debt was $10,626,877,048,913.08. That is a difference of $4,899,100,310,608.44.

$4.9 trillion in 96 months.

By contrast, when Blowie took office on January 20, 2009, he inherited the $10,626,877,048,913.08 already on the clock.

Blowie is just shy of a full 24 months in office.  Using the 'official' U.S. Treasury number posted on January 3, 2001 (it will probably update today), the national debt is $13,997,932,781,828.89.  Our debt has increased by $3,371,055,732,915.81.

$3.4 trillion in less than 24 months.

Even more fun, should you like self-imposed anxiety, is to see the break down of that number into 'debt held by the public' versus 'intragovernmental holdings'.  $9.4 trillion held by the 'public' and $4.6 trillion in 'intragovernmental. 

Somewhere I have a drawer with some Savings Bonds in it.  Time to cash those suckers in before the artificially fed well runs dry.

January 4, 2011

R.I.P. Gerry Rafferty

The world lost a talented musician today. Though you might not recognize the name, you certainly know his music.

Being a Texas gal, I frequently listen to Cory Morrow and Pat Green's version of this song. I knew it was a cover, and I had heard it in its original form, but never realized it was Gerry Rafferty.

Congressional Prayer Caucus Smack Down

Have you gotten the email with a link to this letter?  
The Congressional Prayer Caucus posted a blog entry and sent a letter with similar text to Blowie a couple of weeks ago, calling him out for misstating our country's motto and leaving out the word 'Creator' when quoting the Declaration of Independence.
As was stated in the lead-in on the email I received, there is great satisfaction in knowing that this letter is now part of the official public record.
This is the kind of smack down my Aunt Pam would deliver.  She is the kind of lady that never raises her voice, but can express her extreme displeasure with a measured tone and calm facts.  
Writing in response to the speech Blowie gave in Indonesia in which he said,  
'But I believe that the history of both America and Indonesia should give us hope.  It is a story written into our national mottos. In the United States, our motto is E pluribus unum - out of many one...our nations show that hundreds of millions who hold different beliefs can be united in freedom under one flag.'
The Prayer Caucus responded, in part, with:
'E pluribus unum is not our national motto. In 1956, Congress passed and President Eisenhower approved the law establishing 'In God We Trust' as the official national motto of the United States. This motto is also referenced in our national anthem and is engraved on our coins and currency.'
BWAHAHAHA!   Maybe Blowie can't remember the national anthem.  Maybe Michelle doesn't let him have any cash.  Maybe he should get 'In God We Trust' tattooed on his ass, so he can remember our motto.

In pointing out the lack of the word 'Creator'  in his speeches they said:
'Omitting the word 'Creator' once was a mistake; twice establishes a pattern.'
I really don't care if Blowie gets the 'God' part of the argument, what really hit home for me was this fundamental truth:
'As President of the United States, you are our representative to the rest of the world.  By misrepresenting things as foundational as the Declaration of Independence and our national motto, you are not only doing a disservice to the people you represent you are casting aside an integral part of American society.' 
Hit the link and read the whole letter, you can also get there from the Prayer Caucus website.  See if a representative from your state is among the signatories. 

January 3, 2011

Plumbing Disaster Days 3 - 6

Last Thursday the plumbers kinda finished the indoor repairs.  The plumbing part is done, but the cement filling of the holes is going to require a little more finesse and there is a great deal of clean up left to do. The crew had the long weekend off and I don't begrudge them it one bit.   Boom would really like to move back in to her room, but someday she will appreciate the value of a job well done and the time that is sometimes needed to accomplish it.

The outdoor plumbing is done as well, but we still have a backhoe and an open trench from the house to the septic tank since no one could deliver a load of sand until today.

New discoveries on Day 3 included:

From the point where the old foundation of our house meets the slab that was added when we remodeled, there were three spots under the foundation where the line was broken.   Outside, there was one spot where roots had gotten in due to an inferior joining product and application that was used by the remodeling plumber.  Notice the two shiny metal areas in the bottom of the photo.  Those are mission bands, their intended use is for joining PVC to cast iron pipes, not PVC to PVC.  Roots had found their way in there:

During the locating of the roots and leaks with the camera system, we had noted a couple of places where there was backfall, with water sitting in the pipe.  The pipe didn't have a constant downward slope toward the septic tank.  Not a good thing in a gravity system.   To address all of the outside issues we declined a spot repair and opted for a whole new line from the house to the septic tank.

When they dug out the old line, about 6 feet of it was crushed, just like you would expect if heavy excavation equipment and concrete trucks had been driven over it - just as they were when we remodeled.  Glad we opted for the full replacement, or we would have been dealing with more roots in the line in short order.

My remodeling contractor and his plumbing sub spent an hour here talking to the crew, trying to figure out what happened and then alternately blaming each other and then trying to shift responsibility to us.  Nice try. They did both admit to some fault so I expect it won't be too much of a fight to get them to pay for most of this mess.  Knock on wood.
As I said, there is going to be more work needed on the floor before I will accept it.  

That may mean several more days of Boom's worldly possessions being scattered throughout the house, but I am not going to cut corners now.  The worst is over, with the incessant jack hammering and dust flying.  Putting my landscaping back together in the dead of winter is somewhat hopeless, but it will give me something to do in the spring. 

January 2, 2011

The downside to having state of the art medical facilities...

...is that everyone wants to come to Texas and use them.

What was, I think, supposed to be a 'feel good' story on my local news, ended up ticking me off.  In digging a little deeper, it would seem that WFAA TV got taken for a little bit of a ride by this woman.  It wasn't her first media encounter, in fact, it seems that she has become an old pro at interviews.  Trouble is, she never tells the same story twice.

Regardless of her reasons, beliefs or the real story of how she came by them, the fact remains that she temporarily moved to Texas to obtain a medical procedure for her daughter - something she could have done in her home state.  It is the sort of story that will become more and more commonplace, should Obamacare not be modified and should the states suing for relief be successful.
A fight between the state of Georgia and a young mother came to a head in Dallas. The battle is over the health of Zayna Varner's baby, who is now recovering from surgery. So far, Varner is winning the battle.

At 16 months, Billie Varner can barely walk. But, she's already beaten a serious heart defect and the state of Georgia, which threatened to take her mother's rights away because she refused to allow the baby to get a blood transfusion.
"My aunt had a blood transfusion and contracted HIV," Varner said. "And when she passed away, I was holding her."
The Georgia hospital that was standing by to do Billie's surgery insisted on receiving permission to do a transfusion in case of an emergency. When Varner refused, the state threatened to terminate her parental rights. Georgia Medicaid also refused to pay for an out-of-state hospital that could do the surgery without a transfusion.
The risk of HIV infection by blood transfusion in the United States hovers around 1 in 1.8 million. The kid had cardiac surgery, any guess on how many pages of risk acknowledgment mom had to sign for that? I ain't buying the 'HIV risk' argument.  After doing a little research on Ms Varner, I will venture to say that she was looking for something to make into a story.

In earlier interviews Ms Varner has cited a religious objection to blood transfusions, but in this interview makes no mention of it, using the 'aunt-dying-in-my-arms' story.  Nothing about her dress, speech or lifestyle indicate that she adheres to any other tenet of her religion.  Sometimes she tells a story about Billie getting an earlier transfusion that resulted in an infection as her reason for refusing.  She never mentions her other daughter, Billie's twin, or the baby daddy, or what she does to make a living...
The story was picked up on local television and CNN, prompting dozens of responses on Facebook. One such post referred the family to Medical City in Dallas, where they have a blood conservation program that means surgery could take place without the threat of a transfusion.
It's nice that the internet provides helpful information.  It took me about 5 seconds to discover that the Atlanta Medical Center has its own Bloodless Medicine & Surgery Center, just like Medical City Dallas, only right there in Varner's home state.  The one where she was receiving Medicaid.  So here's the part that really made me mad:
Varner hopped on a plane and came to Dallas. First she had her residency changed to Texas and then she got her federal Medicaid funds moved in order that the federal government would pay for the surgery in North Texas.
The result was a healthy baby and a happy mother.

"I'm getting to take her home in one piece, and she's going home with me and I'm so excited," Varner said.
She isn't the least bit interested in even pretending that she made a bona fide move to Texas.  Our state requires a Herculean effort to prove one's high school sports eligibility after a move to Texas, yet we let any old con artist with a sick kid move right in and establish residency, to feed from both the federal and our state troughs?  Now that she has what she wanted, she's headed back 'home'.

Good riddance.

January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Let's kick 2011's ass.