February 28, 2011

Ecclesiastes 3

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
I really don't like to spend much of my personal energy on worrying about the personal decisions other people make.  If it doesn't affect me or mine, I figure they are free to do as they choose.  I didn't think much about the Terry Schiavo case, as it was really more about adults arguing amongst themselves as to what they felt or believed another adult wanted in a situation that they never could have imagined.  That case might have been one of the things that spurred me, as an adult, to have frank conversations and document my exact expectations should some debilitating illness or injury befall me. As an adult I have those choices and I certainly have an expectation that I have that responsibility for my children until they are old enough to choose for themselves.

The case of baby Joseph Maraachli has tugged at my heart a little.  I certainly don't know the specifics of the case, but I have kept up with the basics and have read and heard the opinions of many esteemed physicians.  I just can't figure out what the big f'ing deal is about some doctor in Canada performing a tracheotomy and sending this angel home with his parents to die in peace.  The hospital has argued that the tracheotomy is a needlessly invasive procedure that will cause him pain.  In the same breath, they will argue that he is in a vegetative state and they have gone to court to get permission to remove him from a respirator to allow him to die, while struggling for breath, in the hospital. 

Now the hospital is saying that they will allow the child to die at home...hospital personnel will accompany the family to the home and remove the respirator there.   

Can I just ask why that is so much better than performing a tracheotomy and sending him home?  Not to diminish the situation, but, in a pinch, most adults could probably perform a trach, MacGuyver-style, with a hollowed out ballpoint pen tube and a pocket knife.  It is not a difficult procedure.  With some very basic anesthetics, it would be painless.  Isn't there a nurse or doctor somewhere, that would perform the trach?  Is there a downside to it? 


Is that what we all have to look forward to?  Doctors telling when, where and how to die?  Deciding for us, what is best for our children?  Since when did we give up our right to let another person or organization decide time for us?

My heart breaks for the family and for the lack of a courageous person that would do the right thing for them.  My prayers are with them tonight.

February 27, 2011

I rarely call the guy

There was an episode of Two and a Half Men that highlighted Charlie's non-self-sufficient-non-handy side, in which he wants to 'call the guy' to adjust the satellite dish, rather than fix it himself.  You can watch the scene here, I can't embed it and it has funky subtitles anyway. 

Mr Harper leans toward a 'call the guy' mentality, or at least he did before marrying me.  Now it is more of a, 'Honey, can you fix this mentality'.  All of our regular service providers, tech support, car repair, home maintenance contractors, know to talk to me.  Don't misunderstand, Mr Harper has plenty of talent, it just isn't of the handyman variety.

I stumbled on to an article about the 'Home Improvement Projects You Should Never DIY'.  This is entertaining.  The only thing I could think of, while reading it, is either the author is a fully vested 'call the guy' person, or she wants to do her bit for job creation.  Her list includes:

Tiling - okay, it requires specialized tools (my excuse for buying a wet saw) and isn't for everyone, but...to say it should 'never' be DIY?

Plumbing - the contractor that is quoted in the article actually specifies the under sink trap as a potential problem area.  Is there any simpler plumbing task than pulling the trap?

Wiring - huh.  I think some basic knowledge is required, to make it an absolute 'never' is a stretch.  I often replace outlets, switches, fixtures,etc. 

Window and Door Installation - the article mentions that improper installation can lead to termite or carpenter ant infestation.  Can someone please connect those dots for me?  What a crock.  If you believe this, you should not be installing anything, and you probably shouldn't even try to operate a manual door.

Ceiling Fans and Chandeliers - GMAB.  The article stresses the need for proper support, which interests me because the one phobia I have is things falling from the ceiling and stems from a Tiffany-style lamp that fell on me when I pulled the drawstring to turn it on.  I was 7 or 8-year's old and ever since, I won't sit under anything that hangs from the ceiling THAT I DIDN'T INSTALL MYSELF.  On this item, I prefer to do it myself to insure that it is done correctly. 

Structural Changes - okay, I will give her this one.  Not many people have architectural renderings of their house, complete with structural information.  Around here, you don't even have to have plans that are that in depth.  They make you engineer the crap out of the foundation, but after that, you can just start hammering boards together willy nilly.

Siding - the article's negative in this case seems to hinge on the average DIYer not being able to use a Sawzall to cut around vent openings.  Puhleeze.  And I don't agree that all previous siding has to be removed in every case.

Roofing - okay, roofing isn't hard, but it is kinda dangerous.  I will re-roof my little storage shed, but if the house needs redone, I'll call the guy.

Painting - This one is really the tipping point.  Painting is probably the most common DIY project.  My kids have repainted their own rooms, and they can do the cut in work with just a brush - no taping off lines.  Clearly the author is drinking someone's 'job creation' Kool-Aid.  There is no other excuse for promoting painting as a project that you should always hire a professional to do.

Cleaning the Gutters - the article says that gutters should be cleaned two or three times a year - by a professional.  Let me tell you about professional gutter cleaning - if they won't go out there in the pouring rain and lightning, wielding a piece of rebar to ream out the downspout while perched on the 'do not stand or sit here' top step of an aluminum ladder - then they aren't nearly as professional as I am.

February 26, 2011

FU to (the guys that manage) the band that rhymes with McFlurry

Anybody have a band that can play an afternoon gig next Saturday?

I'm fairly serious.  If you can work a banjo into your act, I think I can make it work.  Since it is a headlining band that I am about to fire, the pay is pretty damn good too.  And you can have their hotel rooms.

I have a band that is pissing me off right now.  Actually, the band probably knows nothing about it, but they have a dick for a manager and a pompous twat for a booking agent.  We are arguing over the placement of a comma in a contract.  Funny how punctuation changes the meaning of things, isn't it?  Judging by the content of their emails, it is fairly simple to ascertain which of them wrote the contract clause that is in question.  Note to musicians: don't higher the guy who can't spell to right legal documents.

Actually, they are arguing about the placement of a comma in a clause that they wrote, while I calmly point out the three superseding clauses that negate theirs, in the contract that an actual attorney drafted.  Don't bring a knife to a gun fight, boys.

I wouldn't mind so much if they had raised the issue sometime in the past FOUR months.  But, no, they wait until one week out to say, oh, by the way, we'll be FIVE hours later than the contract states.  GMAFB.

I also would be slightly less lit up if either one of these throbbing assholes had answered their cell phones or had the common fucking courtesy to return a phone call as requested.  Be men, you pussies. 

So, really, if you have a band that can go acoustic, work some Appalachia and/or Piedmont into your groove, cover an hour set and be ON TIME, hit me up.

February 25, 2011

I wanna be cool like that

I don't recall playing any popular music when I was in band.

Boom played an Imogene Heap song once in concert band, and at football games they played little snippets of stadium standards; Fly Like an Eagle, Ironman, Dr Who, etc. -  but none of what are supposedly the top ten songs played at sporting events.

This is George Mason University's band playing a decent version of Rage Aainst the Machine's 'Killing In the Name'.  I worry about the girl in the red shirt, she looks to be playing a piccolo.  She's gonna put someone's eye out.

Just another example of our eroding sense of personal responsibility

One day a week I spend the morning at my kids' school.  I am supposed to be making copies, but there are rarely any requests waiting in the copy room, so I move on to help out on other various office tasks or teacher projects.

Yesterday morning, I was helping the school nurse with paperwork and some side projects she is doing for a school event.  School starts at 8 am.  By 8:25 am, she had seen six kids with various ailments and complaints.

One was a 10 minute asthma breathing treatment. This was the first thing that caught my attention.  The kid literally got out of his dad's car at school, set his backpack down and came to the nurses office saying he needed his medicine.

Next was a high school girl complaining of pain from something she had done at softball practice THE DAY BEFORE.  I am pretty sure she didn't roll out of bed, shower, dress, drive to school and only then discover that she had a sore muscle.

Then there was a sweet little girl who was sneezy.  The nurse pulled her file to see if there were any notes about allergies and to see if the parents had given permission for any nurse-administered medicines.  Nope, all of the basic OTC treatments were circled 'NO', so the parents had to be called.  Apparently, sweet girl was sneezy all the way to school, too - but mom was waiting to see if anything else manifested itself.

The next kid put it all in perspective for me.  She actually walked in and told the nurse that her throat had been hurting from a cough and her mom told her to come ask for some cough drops when she got to school.

WTF do these types of parents do in schools that don't have a school nurse?  These are not poverty-stricken, poorly educated people, they are, for the most part, wealthy and college educated.  Many of these kids have a stay at home parent, so all a sick kid would be doing is cutting into shopping and lunch dates. Is it that they can't be bothered with their children's daily health concerns?

I cannot comprehend the mentality of people who do not try to help themselves and their family first.  I would be embarrassed to knowingly send my kid to school sick or in distress, much less send them to school sick with the intention of having them seek out the nurse for treatment.

I'm not even touching on the irresponsibility of the parents who send a sick kid to school, though that infuriates me as well.  I have a 'friend' whose kid delights in his annual perfect attendance award.  This same kid had strep throat 4 times in one school year.  Mom would dose him up and send him to school until the 10 am daily attendance mark, and then pick him up.  Maybe infecting everyone else was part of his plan to be the only one with perfect attendance.

Am I the only that thinks that people should take responsibility for themselves and their actions?  When did personal responsibility become a revolutionary idea?

February 23, 2011

Don't be touchin' my cookies

We have one little rule in our house during Girl Scout cookie time.  Everyone gets their own box of Thin Mints.  When the cookies come, we pass around a Sharpie and write our names on the boxes.  Sometimes the kiddos will spring for an extra box or two out of their own pocket - and they get to lay claim to them as well. 

If you are thinking that we instituted this policy because of the kids, think again.  Mr Harper never met a sleeve of Thin Mints that he could put down while there were still some left.  Good thing he doesn't live with this lady:


Police say a brawl between roommates over Girl Scout cookies led to assault charges against one of them. According to the Naples Daily News, the Collier County Sheriff's Office reports that 31-year-old Hersha Howard woke up her roommate early Sunday and accused her of eating her Thin Mints.
They argued and deputies say that it turned physical with Howard chasing her roommate with scissors and hitting her repeatedly with a board and then a sign.
Police say the roommate's husband tried to separate them. The roommate said she gave the cookies to Howard's children.
Howard is charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. She was released Monday on $10,000 bail.

Last minute stress

I don't get overly excited about last minute stuff too often.  I have four kids and a husband.  I've scrambled to make dozens of cookies for a class party with hours notice, a side dish for the office potluck that was forgotten until the night before and helped salvage events that the planners bailed on at the 11th hour.  I'm not such a shrinking violet that I haven't just said 'no' when appropriate, but if I can make it happen, I usually do.

I am a one-woman office for a foundation that produces an annual event.  I literally do EVERYTHING except website admin.  I would list it all here, but it depresses me.  Seriously, I do the taxes and fill the toilet paper dispensers and everything in between.  What makes me laugh is how people will call and ask a question - if they don't like the answer, they will email the foundation and sometimes write a letter, never suspecting that it is all the same person.  Or they call me back and tell me about the other lady they talked to.  Often, they will argue that it wasn't me they talked to before.  I just let the customer be right, it's easier that way.

So I have all the responsibility for administration, operations, payroll, legal, marketing, sales, HR, production, etc..  The event is next weekend.  Advance ticket sales ended last week.  While ticket sales are frantic the first week and then in spurts around the holidays, sales slack off right up until the very minute they end.  Once we turned off the advance sale, the phone started ringing.  I have heard every sob story imaginable about why I must allow this one little exception to policy.  If one person called me up and honestly said, 'I was lazy and a complete idiot and missed the ticket sale,' I would probably give them tickets.

Adding to the atmosphere are the last minute sponsors who ignored submission deadlines in early January and want to send me video that needs editing and format conversion.  WTF?  Sorry, but, um, NO.  Camera ready art and ready to play video means just that.  I am not your flippin' tech department.

I only have about 734 details left to attend to before next week.  Then the tension switches to wondering if all the people and businesses I count on will come through on time, in the manner expected and with a smile on their face.

If there are any significant world events, could you let me know?  I won't be coming up for air much until mid-March.

February 22, 2011

Mayor Rahmbo

He did it.  I have to believe, that if nothing else, anyone not named Mayor Daley has got be a good thing.  Maybe.  I guess we will see. 

I'm not a real doctor, I just play one on TV.

Saw this at Left Coast Rebel.  I think most of you know the backstory, of how these 'doctors' have shown up at protests in Wisconsin, handing out doctor's notes to protesting teachers as if they were flyers for a kegger. 
 LCR goes on to display the currently known roster of physicians that have been perpetrating fraud:

 Here is the UW DFM Hall of Shame:





 
Casting any shred of medical ethics to the wind, these people have a running tab at Kinko's, showing up at the protests with boxes of doctor's excuses for protestors to take back to school and work.  And we let them have prescription pads?  Is there any doubt that each of them should be stripped of their licenses?

February 20, 2011

Anthony Maschek is a hero

And the anti-ROTC students at Columbia University can go fuck themselves.

I don't get really pissed off in blog-print too often, and when I do, I try to temper what I write, as the Gorenet is forever.  Some things, they just scream out for brutal honesty.

Anthony Maschek is a hero.  A patriot.  A veteran.  A true American.  He was shot ELEVEN times in a firefight in Kirkuk, Iraq, both of his legs were broken and he spent two years at Walter Reed recovering.  Believe me, lesser people would be sitting at home, content to live off of the military and government disability checks, but this guy enrolled in Columbia to study economics and further his education.

Last Tuesday Maschek appeared at a town hall meeting and spoke in favor of lifting the campus ban on ROTC.  He was heckled and called a racist.  A man who volunteered his life to protect and defend us, jeered at by people who were evidently smart enough (on paper), to get into Columbia.

Screw each and every one of them.  Their parents should be cowering in shame over the ungrateful pieces of shit they raised.  You, the misguided hope and change generation, are the brightest and shiniest example of every fucking thing that is wrong with society.  Fuck you!  You have a false sense of entitlement and take every opportunity to open your pie hole and spout your self-righteous bullshit opinions.  Something you would not be able to do, if American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines weren't willing to give their lives to defend your rights.  

Even my 7-year old can grasp that soldiers do as they are ordered to do.  Putting on an American military uniform rarely has anything to do with one's core beliefs about any of the wars we are engaged in and everything to do with a desire to serve one's country.  The oath they take doesn't say anything about what they believe, it swears allegiance to our country's constitution and leadership:
"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."
Thank God for people like Anthony Maschek.  I hope against hope that all of the people that know and love him are supporting him and reassuring him that most Americans are appreciative of his sacrifices.   Those that have any other opinion of him, or any of our military men and women, should just shut the fuck up.

Sources here and here.

Whoopin' Weekend

Boom is spending the weekend in College Station, Texas, visiting Texas A&M University for a student recruiting event known as 'Whoopin' Weekend'. I don't know how many people attempt to attend, but around 200 high school juniors were selected to attend. On Friday, they had several discussion groups, speakers, group activities, attended a class (Biology, which she loved) and went to yell practice.

On Saturday the TAMU campus was overrun with thousands more high school students who were attending Aggieland Saturday, a one day campus open house. We did a similar open house back in October. As part of the weekend recruiting efforts, we received a ticket to the TAMU women's basketball game versus Oklahoma State. Mr Harper went to the game and had a Big Time. 

(It is convenient that Mr Harper's work territory now includes Bryan/College Station, as he drove Boom down and is working in the area while she attends the Weekend. There are some families that I know that have made visiting colleges a coast to coast grand tour. We simply don't have the time or resources for that. One family we know has visited 32 different schools in 15 states. I wonder if it ever occurs to them, that if their kid is that indecisive about where to go, that she may be just as indecisive about her studies and be one of those major-switching eight year college plan kids).

One of Boom's Saturday activities included taking in a TAMU baseball game, which the Aggies won 10-2. The highlight of her day, as evidenced by the texting frenzy, was watching the Corp of Cadet's Fish Drill Team practice and meeting Reveille.


I can't explain why my daughter had decided that she wanted to attend TAMU before she had ever set foot on the campus.  No one else in our family has gone there and last fall was the first time she had ever been.  And, while we haven't visited 32 colleges, we have been to several, but Boom hasn't been swayed - even by the opportunity to go to St Andrews (Golf! Kilts! Beach! Scottish Brogues!)

The only less than positive feedback Boom has had about the weekend was the 'mixer' held last night.  She texted that it was like the first middle school dance all over again.  (I should explain that at Boom's first middle school dance, she was coming down with the flu and ended the night by puking on the principal's shoes - in front of everyone, while several kids snapped pictures. Somewhat humorous now, at the time - not so much).

It has been an interesting weekend here at home, just me and the youngest two (Bang is on a Scout camp out).  Looking forward to having everyone back and at the normal noise level.  This weekend was a little too close to what life will look and sound like when Boom is actually headed off to college.  I am not quite ready for that.

February 19, 2011

Go to hell, go directly to hell, do not speak out against black politicians

Dallas County Commissioner's Court has been entertaining for a good long time.  This week is a prime example.  John Wiley Price is, and has been for nearly three decades of public service, a racist pig of a militant black man. 

When I first saw video of the 'event', I thought that the speaker was saying 'moolah', as in 'money', which I thought apropos, as Price has been on the dole in way or another, his entire life.  In the subsequent news reports, the speaker clarified that he was saying 'mullah', and meant it as 'tribal leader'.  In the days since the 'event' the Muslim community has been up in arms, because in Islam, a 'mullah' is a religious leader.  What no one, other than John Wiley Price, has said, is that 'mullah' is a derogatory term for a black man. 

You can go here for the full lead up, wherein the speaker describes Price as the Chief Mullah and details the actions surrounding the firing of an election official that happened under questionable circumstances.

Otherwise just watch this condensed version and then explain to me why a black man, elected to a public political position, can point out that 'all of you are white' and then repeatedly tell the (white) people to go to hell.  No white person could get away with saying that to any other race.  Isn't pointing out the racial difference the hallmark of racially motivated speech? Not to mention that he called someone 'Fat Boy', highlighting either his inability to appreciate the diversity of people of all sizes, or his need to refer to a grown white man as 'boy'. Who are the dickwads that keep electing Price?

My favorite part is when Wiley says '...Go to hell, you, too, reverend...'.

February 18, 2011

Revolution Dreams

Bang is working on a Boy Scout Merit Badge that required him to either watch the national evening news for 5 consecutive days or read a major newspaper every day for the same amount of time.  The timing of the badge put him reading the paper at the climax of the protests in Egypt.  On his worksheet he jotted down the main reasons that Egyptians were protesting:
Poor living conditions
Economic stagnation
Widespread unemployment 
Political repression
Proving that the average 13-year old boy has a little bit of common sense, he reviewed his notes, verified the reasons from the text and by asking me, then said what many of us have been wondering for the past few weeks, 'Could that happen here?'.

Are there enough people that are tired of a government that takes and spends, while the middle class works harder and harder for less?  How about the 10+% of our labor force that doesn't have a job?  Are they ready to hit the streets in protest?  (Well, probably not, since they can sit on their ass and draw unemployment for 99 weeks).

The Egyptian revolution was organized on Facebook.  If any country's youth have cornered the market on Facebook use, surely it is young Americans.  But, do young Americans - by and large - give a rat's ass about our Constitution, the ideals that our founding fathers had in mind or the preservation of the civil liberties that the government has been chipping away at for the last century?

Boom walked through the room during our conversation and, jokingly, expressed the sentiment that would probably be our only hope for a youthful revolution, 'If it gets me out of class, I'm in'.

She meant it in jest, but since she is studying Reconstruction right now, we have had many spirited discussions about 'revolution'. Several months ago, after browsing a book about do-it-yourself education, we started seeking out the free and readily available online resources from top tier universities.  The other night we were watching a Yale professor's class lecture on Andrew Johnson's Impeachment Crisis.  The prof made the point that every revolution has a counter-revolution.

This leads me to wonder if there is any sort of 'revolution' occurring now.  Often it takes the passage of time to look back and label a period as a 'revolution'.  Is the so-called Tea Party 'movement' a 'revolution'?  Is the slow erosion of our civil liberties, especially since 9/11, a 'revolution'?  Or are both of these examples of a counter-revolution that happened in response to some revolutionary actions?

Can you imagine what would happen to our political system, if there were a revolutionary uprising, similar to what is happening in the Middle East?  It is beyond my wildest dreams, to think of a president and his cabinet gone, in the blink of an eye.  I know that we should be careful what we wish for, but I think we are to the point that a clean slate would be better than any other alternative.

Unfortunately, I am afraid that there is more apathy among Americans, than revolutionary spirit.  

Enjoying the weather

They missed the forecast today by about 10 degrees.  It got up to 86, beautiful and sunny.  Lots of people out on their motorcycles enjoying the first breath of spring in North Texas.

Funny how 4 inches of exposed butt crack can completely negate the coolness of a Harley.

February 17, 2011

Half-time was probably more exciting than the game

This is cute, I had never seen it before. Around Harper House we appreciate a good and/or entertaining marching band (there is a distinction).

I love my husband, but...

I am a little bit swamped with work and life this week.  Since I primarily work from home, I deal with constant interruptions.  If you are ever considering a home based job, do all that you can to have a very detached and secluded work space.  Otherwise, there is never complete separation between the two.

Mr. Harper's job gives him a great deal of flexibility and the ability to office from home whenever he wants.  While that set up is great for him to be able to take part in the kids' field trips, school parties and helping out with childcare when I have a meeting - it sucks when it is just a 'regular' day for him and I am trying to work.

I keep threatening to come to his place of business one day and stick my head in the office every 15 minutes and ask what he is up to.  Then I will comment on his end of every phone conversation.  Maybe I could take a blender and fire it up in the middle of a conference call.  Tease the dogs and make them bark incessantly.  You get the idea.

The culmination of the past 18 months worth of work for me happens in two weeks.  I need a little quiet alone time to get some freakin' work done.  Crash goes to 'school' three days a week.  15 precious hours that I should have completely to myself.  Days like today, I would rather have the 3-year old kid at home over the 40-something year old kid.

February 16, 2011

America needs more teachers like Natalie Munroe

Ah, America, the land of the free.  Where nutjobs can wave a swastika while they burn an American flag, where criminals that crossed our borders illegally can receive taxpayer funded assistance and in-state college tuition rates, where throwing paint on someone else because you don't approve of their animal hide coat is a commonly accepted act.

But telling the truth, in plain terms, will getcha fired.

Natalie Munroe is a high school teacher from Pennsylvania.  She is currently suspended from her job, but has all but been told that she will be fired after the 'investigation' is complete.

Ms Munroe committed the cardinal sin of blogging about work.  What horrible things did she say about her job and students?
"My students are out of control," Munroe, who has taught 10th, 11th and 12th grades, wrote in one post. "They are rude, disengaged, lazy whiners. They curse, discuss drugs, talk back, argue for grades, complain about everything, fancy themselves entitled to whatever they desire, and are just generally annoying."
And in another post, Munroe — who is more than eight months pregnant — writes: "Kids! They are disobedient, disrespectful oafs. Noisy, crazy, sloppy, lazy LOAFERS."
In a post wherein she explains the school district's policy of requiring a comment on report cards - one preferably chosen from a list of "canned comments" - she came up with her own humorous list.   
  • dresses like a street walker
  • sneaky
  • weirdest kid I've ever met
  • rat-like
  • frightfully dim
  • whiny, simpering grade-grubber with an unrealistically high perception of own ability level
  • I hear the trash company is hiring
  • I called out sick a couple of days just to avoid your son
  • Rude, beligerent [sic], argumentative f**k
  • Just as bad as his sibling. Don't you know how to raise kids?
  • Asked too many questions and took too long to ask them. The bell means it's time to leave!
  • Nowhere near as good as her sibling. Are you sure they're related?
  • Shy isn't cute in 11th grade; it's annoying. Must learn to advocate for himself instead of having Mommy do it.
  • Too smart for her own good and refuses to play the school 'game' such that she'll never live up to her true potential here.
  • Am concerned that your kid is going to come in one day and open fire on the school. (Wish I was kidding.)
 Munroe concluded: "These comments, I think, would serve me well when filling out the cards. Only, I don't think parents want to hear these truths. Thus, the old addage [sic] ... if you don't have anything nice to say ... say 'cooperative in class.' "
Munroe NEVER named students, or identified them in any way.  I have done Ms Munroe the same disservice that most of the media has - taking her comments out of context.  My excuse is; I agree with her and I appreciate the humor and frustration in which the comments were made.  I read the context, I am just plucking the hilarious bits out to share.  The blog has been taken down, and the media didn't grab many of the positive posts and comments Ms Munroe made about her school and students, or else I would be sharing those as well.

Whoever the extremely thin-skinned loser parents and/or students are that dug up a teacher's personal blog and cherry picked a couple dozen posts out of her blog that is mostly about her self-described hum drum life, they obviously see themselves in her posts.  If they don't, they probably should.  And, truth be told, there isn't a comment that Munroe made about a kid, that some student or parent hasn't made about someone else's kids.  It's all well and good for shallow busybodies to gossip and poke fun, but when a teacher calls 'em like she sees 'em - saying what so many others would like to say - she loses her job. I would bet that a recording device in the teacher's lounge or principal's office would have captured much worse.

The law seems to be on Ms Munroe's side.  The district has no internet use policy or prohibition on teachers blogging.  There is that little First Amendment issue, as well.  I hope that the uptight dickwads in the Central Bucks school district get to finance the Munroe children's college educations.

Source material here, here, here, here and here.

February 15, 2011

She got the shot, but I feel the pain

I spent my early morning at the county health department, getting my daughter a shot.

Some 15 years ago, I first set foot in the county health department, as it was the only place around that offered the malaria meds needed for travel to South Korea.   They were kind of expensive, as I remember, but it was the only game in town.  It was a scary, grimy place full of people that were dirty, rude and non-English speaking.  Incidentally, our county health department is in a shiny new building, with 'green' touches like a water catchment system and special, up close parking for 'fuel efficient vehicles'.  And, yes, I parked my big ass SUV in one of those spots.

Over the past 10 years, several doctors have referred us to the health department for several routine vaccinations, even those that are required for school entry.  We are well insured and able to pay our out of pocket share on the spot.

How is it that our family GP and pediatrician can't afford to stock and administer certain vaccines, but the health department can?  Some shots the doctor won't even special order, because of the cost.  If they can't use up a whole vial of it before it expires, they are throwing money away and the insurance companies won't let them charge an individual for any more than the actual dose given - even if the individual is willing to pay for the whole vial.  I have asked, because going to the health department is often like going to the hospital.  Lots of icky germs that I would otherwise not have to be exposed to.

Is the health department busy enough that they aren't throwing away partial vials of these expensive vaccines?

Granted, we were there at 7 am - but, we were the only people in the waiting room this morning.  I can't imagine that the demand for Meningococcal vaccine is very great in February, unless there is an outbreak.  There is no possible way that my $10 covered the cost of the vaccine, the syringe and needle, the nurse to administer and the front desk administrator, is there? 

The answer, of course, is that I (and every other tax paying resident of my county, state and nation) have subsidized the cost of that shot.  Even honest, hard working people with good health insurance are being forced, by a very broken and corrupt health care system, to utilize publicly funded programs.  Seems like it is part of the grand plan to force us into socialized medicine.

My insurance and my doctors can't even provide all of the basic services to me, because the powerful drug lobbies and the hulk of public health care make those things unprofitable for them to provide and more costly to the end consumer.  Why should I fork over a $30 copay to see the doctor of my choice, to get a shot that I could pay $10 for elsewhere?

What would happen if those of us paying for the public health system all decided to utilize it full-time?  If Obamacare moves forward in its current state, we will surely find out.

February 14, 2011

FJJ for FOD

Instead of FOD, I am substituting Jerry Jones today.

I really shouldn't have to remind anyone how big of a debacle the whole Super Bowl thing was; exempt from the power outages the rest of us in Texas suffered through on some of the coldest days on record, roads to Jerry World getting salted and plowed before all else, ice sliding off the dome of the Debt Star (Whited coined that phrase and I had to steal it) and hurting six people, seats that didn't get installed in time and people denied entry to the Super Bowl, etc. and etc..

Some people, inexplicably mostly sports media reporters, have been playing defense for ol' Jerry.  The most standard of their cases being that the NFL was to blame for the snafus before and during the Big Game.

Assuming that we can forget how Jerry World got built (I, for one, cannot),

Again, more Whited greatness.  We solidly agree on this issue.


But, assuming 'we' could collectively forget and start with a clean slate right up to February 1st, the events of Super Bowl week can't be all the fault of everyone but Jerry.  So we should put the past behind us and move on, Jerry's just a good old boy who hosted a big party at his house that didn't go quite as planned, but he really has a good heart and would never take advantage (again)....right?

Okay, sure, unless it involves several thousand North Texas Girl Scouts.

In January, the stadium announced a special Girl Scouts Day, with discounted VIP tours, professional photos on the field and the obligatory commemorative GS patch to mark the occasion.  The flyer promoted the Pro Shop and available concessions.  Tickets were $20 per person, what a great Dad & Daughter activity the day before Valentine's Day.

The first red flags came in a flurry of emails last week.  'Due to overwhelming response' they each began.  VIP tours sold out (but we had gotten ours in time), they hadn't made enough patches, tour times changed to accommodate the number of people...it was starting to sound like Super Bowl week, redux. 

I had intentionally NOT purchased any Valentine's gifts for my boys, delegating that duty to Dad and the girls to do at the Pro Shop during the tour.  Boom texted me upon arrival at the Debt Star, 'Pro Shop closed until Wednesday because of Super Bowl - nothing left on the shelves'.

The next text was, 'Tour time changed AGAIN'.

When the girls were getting ready to go, I had mentioned to them to get Dad's picture on the field, preferably on the star or with the end zone visible.  God Bless Mr Harper, he loves his 'Boys.   I had also coached The Princess on affecting either a squatting pose or a vomiting pose, for my photographic entertainment.

The next text was, 'Still the Super Bowl field.  Packers and Steelers end zones, no star.'

After I quit giggling, I got a little ticked off.  The first (and only) time I set foot in Jerry World, the stadium was setting up for a concert, but they had rolled out a significant piece of Cowboy's game day turf, to accommodate photos.  I guess they only do that for the big money sponsors renting out the facility for parties, not for when they are bilking Girl Scouts for $20 a head.

For reasons passing understanding, Dad and the girls got in line for the 'free' photo.  I had 45 minutes of back and forth texting about the rude group of people in line in front of them that took full advantage of the situation, going through every possible photographic combination of families, friends and scouts, even demanding that the photographer re-take several shots, when they felt they didn't look their best.  All of the waiting would have been more bearable, had my thirsty crew been able to get a drink, but, alas, the concession stands were one more thing that was 'unexpectedly' closed and blamed on the Super Bowl.

Clearly, Jones and crew didn't handle the Bowl so well.  Clearly, their grand marketing schemes designed to take advantage of (what they thought would be) a wave of post-Super Bowl positive energy, weren't well thought out.  Seriously, if you thought the Big Game was going to be a Big Success, wouldn't you recognize the recovery time needed before your facility could effectively host another event?

I think Jerry is a fitting substitute for FOD.  He shares so many qualities with our president - they are both arrogant, narcissistic, impulsive and living in an alternate reality.  The only difference is that sometimes Jerry acknowledges it:
"They ought to pass legislation and not let somebody as passionate, as crazy, a guy who thinks one plus one equals three, they shouldn't let him have the resources or the credit to build something like this, because he'll go crazy. That's exactly what I've done."

February 13, 2011

I am not a stripper

A friend sent me this in an email.

A young girl handed in this drawing for a school assignment:


The teacher graded it and the girl took it home.

The next day the little girl returned to school with the following note:

Dear Ms Davis,

I want to be perfectly clear on my child's homework illustration.
It is NOT a picture of me on a dance pole, on a stage, in a strip joint, surrounded by customers with money.
I work at Home Depot and had commented to my daughter about how much money we had made during the recent snowstorm.

This drawing is of me selling a SHOVEL.

February 12, 2011

Middle East Geography Quiz

Well, I feel stoopid.  The only upside is that the map instantly lets you know when you have made the wrong choice, so you can eventually click your way to a successful conclusion.

Give this geography quiz a try.

CPSC idiocy

The nannies at the Consumer Product Safety Commission strike again. 
Nearly 2 million Summer Infant video baby monitors were recalled Friday after being linked to the _____________ deaths of two infants.
OMG!  Babies have died from baby monitors!  WTF?  How does a baby monitor kill someone?  Did  they catch fire?  Did they shoot out poison darts?  Were they irradiated?  OMG!

Guess again.  The word left out of the quote above is 'strangulation'.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission says the electrical cords on the monitors can be dangerous for babies if placed too close to their cribs.
Thank you, CPSC, Masters of the Obvious.

Without you how would we know that electrical cords, window blind cords, hood drawstrings and bibs that tie could be a strangulation hazard? 
The commission first warned about the potential danger of monitor cords last October. Since 2004, seven children have strangled on baby monitor cords placed too close to a crib.
I'm a mom and a semi-normal human.  I value the life of all children (except that snarky 7th grader at school that keeps picking on younger kids).  I would do anything in my power to protect an innocent child.  That said, can we just put this into perspective?  In seven years, seven children have died because their caregivers placed a device with an electrical cord within reach of a crib.  One per year. 2 million monitor units recalled.

The recalled units are not actually to be returned.  The company will provide some stickers with a warning statement and placement instructions.  This is what they should say:

 

February 10, 2011

I'll take 'How to screw the American public out of 800,000 jobs, Alex"

In a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Blowie said:
As we work with you to make America a better place to do business, I’m hoping that all of you are thinking what you can do for America. Ask yourselves what you can do to hire more American workers, what you can do to support the American economy and invest in this nation. That’s what I want to talk about today--the responsibilities we all have--the mutual responsibilities we have--to secure the future that we all share.
What he didn't say out loud was:
You must do this to help offset the clusterfuck of job destruction that my historic Obamalamadingdongcare law brought to the table.
A law that, according to the Congressional Budget Office's Director, will reduce the number of jobs in the market by 800,000.  That bombshell went like this:
Testifying today before the House Budget Committee, Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director Doug Elmendorf confirmed that Obamacare is expected to reduce the number of jobs in the labor market by an estimated 800,000. Here are excerpts from the exchange:
Chairman [Paul] Ryan: “[I]t’s been argued...that the new health care law will create jobs and increase labor force participation. But if I recall from your analysis, it was quite the opposite. Is that not the case?”
Director [Douglas] Elmendorf : “Yes.”...
[…]
Rep. [John] Campbell: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, we'll -- and Dr. Elmendorf -- and we'll continue this conversation right now. First on health care, before I get to -- before I get to broader issues, you just mentioned that you believe -- or that in your estimate, that the health care law would reduce the labor used in the economy by about 1/2 of 1 percent, given that, I believe you say, there's 160 million full-time people working in '20-'21.  That means that, in your estimation, the health care law would reduce employment by 800,000 in '20-'21. Is that correct? 
Director Elmendorf: Yes. The way I would put it is that we do estimate, as you said, that...employment will be about 160 million by the end of the decade.  Half a percent of that is 800,000.

Hypocrite, a synonym for congressman

After DECADES of beating the public up about 'green' initiatives, comes the news that U.S. House of Representatives spent $860,000 on bottled water last year.

This brings to mind several questions:

When did American tap water become unpalatable?  Is it safe to drink?  Is the EPA doing its job?  Isn't the Safe Drinking Water Act working?  What is the EPA doing with Blowie's gift?
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provides significant funding for states to finance high priority infrastructure projects needed to ensure clean water and safe drinking water. The Clean Water State Revolving Fund program, in place since 1987, received $4 billion, including funds for Water Quality Management Planning Grants. The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program, in place since 1997, received $2 billion.
I don't have time to connect the dots, but am sure that if I did, the result would be a giant dollar sign.  Nestle is the main purveyor of bottled water to the House, garnering 70% of the market.  Nestle got wind of the upcoming report and sent a letter begging lawmakers not to cut funding for bottled water.
"Some interest groups have advocated an end to bottled water products at state and municipal buildings and here on Capitol Hill, as if the mere act of turning from bottled water would solve the challenges they seek to address," wrote Brian Flaherty, Nestle Waters' vice president of government affairs, adding that the company is "proud" to serve Deer Park to so many Capitol Hill offices. The company contracts with the offices of individual lawmakers and committees. 
"Many of the claims being made against bottled water simply fail to provide a complete picture of bottled water's real environmental impact and its importance as a contributor to a healthy lifestyle," Flaherty wrote.
I don't think that anyone ever suggested that our government officials stop drinking water.  Good Lord, Michele Obama would become apoplectic at the thought of such an unhealthy turn.  I think the suggestion is that our leadership take cost effective and 'greener' steps like filtration systems. 
Get a Brita.
Better yet, be a real risk taker, prove to your constituency that all of our 'Safe Drinking Water' initiatives are effective, go way old school and drink water straight out of the tap.  Put it in a 'recyclable' container, perhaps a glass would do.  
Funny thing about glasses of water; you won't see any interns loading cases of them into the back of a Congressman's SUV.

February 9, 2011

It used to be about the dirty laundry

What has changed about our society, that something as relatively mundane as cold weather and frozen precipitation requires non-stop television coverage?  As it is, the various local networks report the traffic and weather every 8 - 10 minutes during the morning hours, with news stories filling the gaps.  A couple of snowflakes changes everything. 

There are constant lectures about how dangerous it is to get out that are followed by 'live team coverage' featuring reporters who are driving all over north Texas to get a camera shot of various ice-covered roadways and wrecked cars.  The meteorologists show their radars and make their predictions, then validate their radar readings by yet more 'on the ground' live coverage. 

Do television reporters in North Dakota issue constant advice on how to keep pipes from freezing? Do folks in Minnesota risk leaving the house without a coat and gloves, if the TV anchor doesn't remind them? 

I understand that winter precipitation isn't a daily occurrence for north Texas.  We had a solid week of ice and snow last week.  Do the reporters think that we have forgotten everything they repeated, as nauseum, just five days ago?

I just heard a Dallas school district official mention that part of their school closing decision is based on the consideration that it is dangerously cold and some children might not be properly attired for the weather, as they wait at their bus stops.  He mentioned that they have many economically disadvantaged students that might not be able to afford a coat.  Seriously?  What is the assumption there, that the parents would send the kids out without appropriate clothing?  Are 'we' really that stupid?

The great dumbing down of America, brought to you by the media.

UPDATED: Proof that some people really are as stupid as the media thinks we are:
A resident’s chemical solution to the winter storm’s effect on a driveway led to a need for cleanup by Denton Fire Department personnel.

Police responded to a call...to assist the fire department with a report of illegal dumping. Responding officers met with fire personnel, who reported receiving a call about antifreeze being poured into a city storm drain.

Upon arrival, they found a large amount of antifreeze in the gutter leaking into the storm drain in front of the original caller’s house, the report said. The caller’s children noticed the leaking when they returned home from church.

The fire department had already begun cleanup when officers arrived. Officers theorized the owner of the home tried to use the antifreeze to melt the ice and snow on the driveway, the report states.
It was estimated that 4 gallons of antifreeze had been used. When officers arrived, the fire department had already used 100 pounds of absorbent material in the cleanup effort. 

February 8, 2011

Groundhog day, the winter precipitation version

We are going to get hammered again, starting tonight.  I have about 27 things that I MUST get done today, that require driving somewhere to do them, as driving seems out of the question Wednesday through Thursday, with a possibility of Friday.

The weather man said, "Same as last week, just not as long." 

The kids' school had a pipe burst over the weekend.  It probably froze sometime during last week and then when it warmed up on Friday, all hell broke loose.  The building it happened in houses the gym upstairs, with the auditorium, an art room, the cafeteria, and ALL of the town and school's computer servers DOWNSTAIRS.  The busted pipe was an UPSTAIRS 5 inch fire suppression line.  Any guesses on how many gallons per minute that sucker spewed out?  Rumor has it that the water was mid-calf downstairs when the fire department got it turned off.  I heard the gym floor looks like a Ruffle's potato chip. 

The lack of internet connectivity has apparently thrown the teachers for a loop.  Coupled with the forecast, they seem to have mentally checked out, telling the kids that today's homework, which would normally be due Wednesday in their block schedule, will be due when they come back to school on Friday.  That's all fine and dandy, but howze about you go ahead and give them the homework you would have assigned on Wednesday?  We have already had four snow days, which is two more than the school calendar allows for.  We seem guaranteed one, if not three, more this week.  At some point, doesn't someone realize that it is going to take some real effort to make up at least a week of missed work? I know some kids wouldn't do the work, and some parents might complain, but, sheesh, some of these kids actually want to learn, give them the opportunity.

Off to get my groceries and gas, hoping that the stores finally got restocked from last week.  It was slim pickins over the weekend.  Need to get a bale of hay, blanket the horse, top off the tanks, crank up the trough heater, drink a Shiner, unhook the hose, recheck the faucet covers, move firewood to the back door, drink a Shiner, check the forecast, get my oil changed (and anti-freeze checked), drink a Shiner, do some work, pay some bills, get out the snow boots, mittens, hats & scarves (we don't need them most of the time), check the hot chocolate and mini marshmallow inventory, drink a Shiner...maybe ice storms aren't all that bad, after all. 

February 7, 2011

FOD


Not a typo

For CDNot a typo, just an obscure movie reference:

February 6, 2011

Cabin Fever, the TV Studio Version

Do your local newscasters have this much fun?  The fact that they even put this video together and posted it speaks volumes about their ability to laugh at themselves. 


February 5, 2011

Could be the result of too much LDS in the sixties...

If the Fox News website would just hire me as a proofreader, things would be so much better.  Or, maybe it is part of their evil plan to get people to read more, as I went on to read the caption trying to figure out what the heck the 'ALCU' was.

Jerry has Satan on his side

After mocking Jerry Jones this week, here and here, I woke up to this display on my thermometer:






Perhaps I underestimated the evil connection Jones has to the devil.  Maybe Jerry is the devil.

Anyhow, Whited explains it better.

Just doing my duty as an American

The Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General,  has launched a new website as explained in this article:
Health care fraud used to be a faceless crime -- until now.
Medicare and Medicaid scams cost taxpayers more than $60 billion a year, but the average bank holdup is likely to get more attention. Seeking the public's help to catch more than 170 fugitive fraudsters, the government has launched a new health care most-wanted list, with its own website.
Click here to be taken to the new website.

I reviewed the list of the Top 10 most wanted fugitives - people who have bilked the American taxpayers via Medicare and Medicaid scams.  As the above quote mentions, that is a $60 billion a year issue.  Thing is, I didn't see the one guy who is costing the American taxpayers the most.  Even using the (laughable) Congressional Budget Office's most conservative estimates, Obamacare will cost us $940 billion over the next 10 years.
When I noticed this omission, I did what every patriotic American would do, I clicked on the big red 'Report a Fugitive' button and filled out the form.  If you are in a hurry, you can just cut and paste from my submission:
Name Used: Barack Hussein Obama
Address/Location: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW 
City:  Washington
State:  DC
Country:  USA
Approx Age:  49
Approx Height:  6' 1"
Approx Weight: 179.9 lbs (with shoes and workout attire)
Eye Color:  Brown
Hair Style Color:  Closely trimmed, sometimes salt & pepper - sometimes Grecian Formula-ed
Language/Accent:  English with arrogant nasal inflection and odd 4 -6 word rhythm
Race: Kenyan/Kansan/Blite-Whack
Vehicle:  Armored 2009 Cadillac Limo and highly customized Boeing 747-200B series aircraft
Tattoos/Scars: Recent lip laceration scar
Clothing: Generally Hart Schaffner Marx suits, but often photographed shirtless
Confidence Level (0-100%):   ZERO confidence in him, 100% confident that he is screwing us

February 4, 2011

More bad juju from Jerry World

I think Jerry's bad karma thing is even bigger than first thought.

Taking people's homes and bilking the tax paying citizens of Arlington, Texas, to build his stadium guaranteed that the 'Boys will never win a championship as long as he is owner - if not for eternity.

Ol' Jerry got the NFL to bring their big show to town.  Businesses wet their collective pants envisioning the dollar signs.  City leaders creamed themselves thinking of the tax revenue.

Well, Mother Nature has thrown a little wrench into the Super Bowl week plans of the NFL and numerous peripheral entities.  Not many people can get here.  We have some weather-related airport challenges, and many of the cities that would serve as the departure point for the Steeler and Packer supporters are having issues of their own.   The only people that seem to have made it here so far are the 'see and be seen'  party hosts and musical guests from the left coast.  Yawn.  Don't be fooled into thinking that many local folks got tickets.  Heck, the NFL took over all of the suites and seats, but did offer some suite owners the opportunity to occupy a seat, in their own suite, for $2,400 a ticket.

ESPN gave up and moved their broadcasts inside in Fort Worth.  Sure, they let down the 8 or 9 people that showed up to watch them, but life is full of little disappointments.  The retailers and restaurants are wringing their hands over the lost revenue, as roads have been too icy to get employees to work, much less get customers in the door.

Tuesday's ice and wind wreaked havoc with tents and displays at nearly every Super Bowl related location.

Then there were the rolling blackouts that exempted the stadium but affected nearly everyone else in the entire STATE!  The arrogance on display by the NFL and the Super Bowl host committee, as to why their venues weren't affected, played right into the already foul karma at the stadium.

Today, God Bless Them, several people were hurt by ice sliding off the top of Jerry World.  I would bet that somewhere there is a note or an email, in which someone pointed out to Mr Jones, et al, that the shape of the roof would allow for just such a situation.  I would bet that the person pointing out the issue was quickly shushed.  Ice dams or some other costly system would have ruined the smooth lines of the futuristic football shaped phallic symbol.
 


News of the ice injuries arrived just as local media outlets were announcing that a former player had settled their lawsuit related to the collapse of the Cowboys' practice facility in 2009

That is a whole lotta bad Jerry juju.  His foulness affects not only the 'Boys and the Big Silver Circus Tent, I think it is affecting the Super Bowl.

UPDATED: Whatever happened to walking uphill in the snow to get to school?

Today is school snow day number four.  I love my kids ( I need to keep saying that).  There are enough of them that they help entertain one another.  They also annoy one another.  Generally, I think we maintain a 50/50 entertain/annoy ratio.  Today we are hovering around 10% entertain and 90% annoy, with the entertainment factor being derived almost solely from their enjoyment of annoying me or each other. 

It is Friday, so I have two more days of familial bliss ahead of me.

Normally, school snow days are relatively non-disruptive for me.  We have four wheel drive vehicles and I have a lifetime more experience driving in snow, as compared to the average Texan on the road.  Thing is, the first part of this event was an ice storm.  Even though our state highway department uses magnesium chloride as a de-icer, it is ineffective at temperatures below 15 degrees, which is where we were when the ice hit.  Texas has precious little resources to deal with this sort of weather.  Driving on ice is not a scenario in which anyone has much control, no matter what they believe.  We also have frigid temperatures that make it dangerous to be outside, so I choose not to take the driving risk, especially with my kids in tow. 

It snowed all night last night, with meteorologists missing the forecast by about 4 inches.  On the 10 o'clock news, they were predicting a 'dusting' for my area.  We got about 5 inches of snow overnight and it is snowing furiously still. It is supposed to get above freezing tomorrow, for the first time since Tuesday morning.  Hopefully it will be enough to melt the roads.

We have two neighbors that are out of town, both left before any of the forecast models predicted this miserable week.  One is in the Bahamas and didn't even realize what was going on until they called to ask us to keep an eye out for a UPS delivery that they had forgotten about.  The other is in Atlanta and trying to drive home.  If it weren't for the newly frozen tundra of Louisiana in the way, they could get here.  Both are a little panicked about their pipes freezing - a very real concern, as even well heated homes with vigilant residents are having issues - as evidenced by the plumbing and water damage restoration trucks at another neighbor's house .  Me and the kids trudge to their houses twice a day, peeking in windows to look for water damage and making sure that their heating units are running.   Lord, keep their homes intact until they get home, I hate to be the bearer of that kind of news.

UPDATE: CRAP!  Had to call the freakin' Bahamas and get direction on how to disable a well pump as the surface pipe burst sometime today.  Went over to check on things and there was water spewing everywhere, including toward the electrical box that we needed to reach in to.  We got it shut down, but it stinks that my friends are on a beach somewhere, drink in hand, worrying about the well that supplies their sprinkler system.  Not as much as it stinks that I am NOT on a beach with a drink in my hand, though.

There were several gorgeous birds at this feeder, but they flew up into the tree right as I was taking the picture.

Clara likes the snow.  The tie-dye blanket is the result of letting The Princess choose.

February 3, 2011

Jerry Jones is going to hell.

Yesterday morning at this time, we were losing power for 15 - 20 minutes at a time every hour and a half or so.  It was 12 degrees with a wind chill hovering around zero and below.  I don't think my heater has caught up since. To add insult to the injury of rolling blackouts, there is a pressure issue with the natural gas supply, so those with natural gas heaters are really screwed.   The entire day, in the realm of energy supply, was a disaster for the little guys - namely the residential customers.  Downtown Dallas and Fort Worth are exempt from these types of outages, but not hospitals.

Apparently, the big wigs who crafted the emergency plan for rolling blackouts took the approach that hospitals have generators, so they can fare on their own.  I guess no one bothered to check with those hospitals about what happens to vital medical equipment during (even a brief) loss of power.  The news was also populated with people who have a loved one at home on life supporting equipment.  They have learned the hard way, that their medical exemption certificate is worthless in this sort of a situation. 

One beacon of light during our darkness was Jerry World.  Considering the number of different excuses that have been put out, as to why sick people, children and the elderly were left to shiver in their own home while Jerry World was warm and well lit - I am more certain than ever, that the Cowboys will never win a Super Bowl.   Karma is a bitch.  I'm not buying the excuse that a power outage on Wednesday would have affected security on Super Bowl Sunday.  In typical doublespeak, the electricity providers keep repeating that these emergency rolling blackout plans were in place well before this cold weather event.  They are contingency plans, not spur of the moment decisions, they say.  Oh, but, we remembered that Jerry World was important and kept it on while every major trauma center in the DFW area lost power at the flick of our switch.   Another excuse being offered is that Jerry World is served by multiple grids, a system that anyone can have, if they have the coin.  When an electric company rep was asked, on camera, how much that sort of redundancy would cost a residential customer, she said (with a straight face), 'Hundreds of thousands of dollars for the infrastructure.'

Do you think that Jerry would mind opening the doors for some of the folks that subsidized his 'intelligent power grid'?  He could open up the concession stands, crank up the big screen, show the little people of Arlington what a good neighbor he is.

February 2, 2011

Colder than a....

I am not sure there are even appropriate euphemisms for the weather here.  Cold.  Windy.  Frozen.  Unchanging.  CenTexTim has some good ones.

I am typing furiously as we have been experiencing rolling blackouts due to the demand of millions of heaters trying to keep up with the arctic air.  After the first power outage, we plugged in every rechargeable device that we thought might be necessary or handy for the rest of the day.   And we started a roaring fire for warmth.

This is snow day numero dos for the kiddos.  Lucky me.  I was a hardass yesterday and preached about how the day off was rather a gift for the older ones that had a couple of school projects they had been procrastinating about.  I made them do homework most of the day.  I suppose today will be more of a traditional day off, with games and other fun stuff.  It is dangerously cold, so I can't really boot them outside for any period of time.

Our overnight low was 11, wind chills were well below zero.  Just before dinner last night, one of our neighbor's dogs showed up on our porch.  He frequently comes to visit and we usually just pet him or say hi, and he will wander away.  In the summer, if he hangs around, we will give him some water.  This, after taking him home several times only to be met with ambivalence on the part of the owners.  'Oh, you have our dog.  Someone must have forgotten to put him away.  We didn't even realize he was gone.'  Yeah, because they shove him out back in a miserable little run and don't care when he is gone for days on end.  As you might have guessed, when he showed up last night, we let him in.  He is well fed and slept in a warm house last night.  We discovered that he cowers a lot, which speaks volumes about his home life.  Our younger dog is delighted to have an energetic running partner.  I plan on keeping him unless/until his worthless owners come looking for him, or until the weather is well above freezing.  Like, in March.

The winds aren't quite so bad today.  Yesterday was freakin' miserable, as evidenced by this squirrel that was hunkered down, clinging to the southeast side of a tree, trying to avoid the northwest wind.  He stayed there for several hours, occasionally sticking his tail out to the side to test the wind.

February 1, 2011

Some more Super Bowl hypocrisy

Our 'arctic blast' arrived with gusto right around 3:30 am.  We went from rain to driving sleet in an instant, coupled with thunder and lightning.  The thunder and lightning continued even after the precipitation changed to snow, a weather anomaly that I have experienced only one other time that I remember.

The thunder sent the two littlest kids to my room, and then when the sleet, driven by 20 mph wind, started hitting the north facing window in Bang's room, he came looking for a quieter bunk.  Mr Harper had already taken up residence in The Princess's Hannah Montana canopy bed (that is always an entertaining sight) and I was loath to bunk up with fluish Boom and leery of what might lurk in Bang's room, so I ended up wide awake on the couch.

I've been through my share of winter storms, but this one was particularly notable for how loud it was.  The sleet hitting the windows sounded like someone was outside sandblasting the house.

As expected, most of north Texas is shut down.  Every school district, government offices and many businesses.  Highways are shut down due to unsafe conditions.  There are dozens of major accidents.  Trucks are jack-knifed on highway ramps.  The talking heads are telling us to stay in unless it is absolutely necessary to venture out.

Texas doesn't have the resources to respond to frozen precipitation the way that northern states do.  We just shut everything down until it melts.

Except when the Super Bowl is here.

Magically, as shown on the bloated media 'coverage' of the 'weather event', there are Fort Worth city personnel shoveling sidewalks in Sundance Square...where ESPN is broadcasting from.  There is a sand truck and 8 police car escort for the Steeler's team bus to travel to the media day venue.   Municipal employees in the cities that are hosting the teams, the media, the NFL VIPs, etc., are jumping through various hoops to deal with the weather and keep the NFL's schedule running smoothly.

Gee, I am sure, considering our world-class medical facilities, that there was someone scheduled for an organ transplant or some other life saving procedure this morning, that has likely been delayed as the surgeon tries to navigate the icy roads.  No sand truck escort for him, yet TV reporters doing Super Bowl stories are riding along in the police escorts.  GMAFB.

May I remind you that the Steelers are staying in a Fort Worth hotel.  The Packers are staying in Las Colinas.  The Packers are now holding their practices at a public high school in Highland Park while the Steelers are practicing at TCU in Fort Worth.   (Incidentally, both of those schools are officially closed today, but someone is risking life and limb to make sure they can accommodate the Super Bowl teams).  Jerry World is in Arlington.  While Jerry and the political leadership of each of those cities will scream about the positive economic impact, I think it is doubtful that we will ever see a true accounting of what this event is costing the taxpayers.  We certainly won't see Jerry 'spreading the wealth' to evenly distribute his windfall.

UPDATE:  Here's a money quote for ya:
"Of course, we're going to address the corridors for the Super Bowl," said Bill Meadows, a Texas Transportation Commission member from Fort Worth.
Meadows, who has been critical of the transportation department's management on mostly fiscal matters, said he was satisfied that the agency had properly handled its deicing of Metroplex roads. "There are always going to be priorities, based on need. Today, the need was at the Super Bowl."