December 31, 2012

FOD - 2012 Finale

At this time of the year I always enjoy the various 'look back' types of news stories.  The photo essays, the lists of major news stories, the notable births and deaths. I coulda-woulda-shoulda done some sort of comprehensive round up of all of the FOD-worthy things that the president has done this year, but, hell, I am only one person and that is a long list. 

Perhaps the best way to put Blowie's year in a nutshell is to look at where we are - in the popular term of the day - standing at the edge of the (fiscal) cliff.  No matter what happens in the next several hours, we have gone off it, in one way or another.

I think history should brand this president as the Great Procrastinator.  For all his community organizing experience, he doesn't seem to be able to do anything to move this country forward and he leaves the 'must do' things to the last minute.  Again, if I had the time and an unlimited amount of space, I could list all of the things he hasn't done this year, or the past four.  And, let's be honest, the prez had to cut his golfing-cation in Hawaii short, leaving his family behind, to come back to town to 'avert this crisis'.  If ever there was a time that he had every reason in the world to get the deal done, this was it.  I am sure he had his marching orders from Moochelle - '...You better get this done so it doesn't ever affect my vacation plans again...'.     

I suppose this inability to close the deal could be taken as a good sign in some other areas, since the president has vowed to put his 'full weight' behind an assault weapons ban.  If this fiscal cliff thing has his 'full weight' behind it, all he is capable of doing is giving us all a little push and watching as we fall.

December 30, 2012

Bad Business

The Saturday before Christmas, Boom and I were out on the town, taking care of last minute shopping and returning a few items that I had bought and then decided against gifting (or had found somewhere else so much more cheaply that the hassle of returning the first was worth it).  One such item was a toy for The Princess purchased from a local independent toy shop that we have come to love for its unique stock and quality toys.

In the interest of full disclosure, the returned toy was a small sort of modern day paper doll fashion thing, with reusable stickers to make different outfits with.  I found, at Costco, a different, larger, more hands-on version of the toy that included a small light table for tracing and coloring the clothing.  The Princess likes to draw and color, so I felt it more suited to her.  One may argue that bowing to the big box store gods is part of the problem, but I have no issue getting a better value, for an item better suited for my kid, no matter where it comes from.

So, we were at the local toy store on the 22nd.  They were busy, of course.  Nothing seemed amiss - sales were rung up, bags were flying out the door, gift card sales were suggested, gift receipts offered.

On Wednesday, December 26th, bright and early, there was an email from the toy store announcing that they were going out of business - in TWO DAYS.  They said that after 3 years they had discovered that their 'business plan was unworkable'.  They closed the email with, 'If you gave any of our gift cards, be sure to tell the recipient to redeem them by Friday'.

Here is a little bit of business/customer service advice for that business owner - any business plan that includes pushing your products and gift cards without mention of your final business date - and doing it around the Christmas holidays when a large percentage of your customer base will be out of town, or might not be getting your sad email in a timely fashion, well, that mindset overrides any positive aspects of your 'plan'.  From where I sit, your 'plan' was to soak the consumer, take your money and run.  I'm glad I got my $20 back before the race was on. 

I suppose there is a chance that the owners had some make-or-break sales goal that they needed to meet by Christmas, but really, two day's notice of their closing?  Small business owners are always crying that the large faceless corporate conglomerates are pushing them out of business, but, hey, at least the big boys are still around to honor their return policies and guarantees.

December 29, 2012

Soldier Suicides

Scanning Drudge this morning, I was greeted with a stomach-turning photoshop of Blowie dressed as Lincoln, an offensive, yet unsurprising headline announcing raises for Biden, Congress, and federal workers, a review of Tarantino's new movie, a story about who the oldest person in the world is, a picture of RGIII (while awesome, not really news), a picture of dancing dogs of some sort, and other sundry items.

Buried down near the bottom, was a headline that should have been at the top, in big red Drudge 'important news' lettering:

US Soldier Suicides Outnumber Combat Deaths In 2012...
American soldier suicides continue to outnumber combat-related deaths in 2012, and the trajectory for soldier suicides continues to get worse.
Statistics released by the Department of the Army show that through November potentially 303 active-duty, Reserve and National Guard soldiers committed suicide. As of Dec. 7, Stars and Stripes reports that 212 soldiers have died in combat-related deaths in Afghanistan.
Before you jump to a 'war is hell' sort of conclusion to explain away the suicide rate, consider this:
About 53 percent of those who died by suicide in the military in 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, had no history of deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan, according to the Defense Department. And nearly 85 percent of military members who took their lives had no direct combat history, meaning they may have been deployed but not seen action.
Sweet Jesus, what is going on?  I was a military brat and then wife - and I have seen some struggles related to that way of living, but nearly a suicide a day?  And half of them never even having been deployed?  The roughest patches for families, in my experience, were deployments - and for all the reasons you would imagine.  Time apart, one parent trying to do everything at home while the other is deployed, financial concerns, etc., these are hard times - but many a soldier has said that these times are worse for the family, as the soldier is just doing his job. 

Why isn't anyone at the White House burning the midnight oil to get to the root issues behind our military killing themselves?  Actually, they should probably stay out of it and let some smart people figure it out.

Whoever those smart people are that can get a handle on this situation, please hurry.

December 28, 2012

A crisis of faith

I have lost all of my grandparents, my father, aunts, uncles, friends, and co-workers to (in no particular order) age, illness, disease, injury, accident, and murder. 

While I recall some deaths affecting me more profoundly than others, I think that I have always viewed funerals as a sort of benchmark.  I certainly didn't stop grieving at each funeral I have attended, but I do think there was some feeling of moving incrementally forward in the process at that point.

I don't feel that way today.  Yesterday, I sat through a lovely service with all of the elements that would normally provide the expected amount of tears, laughter, and thoughtful remembrance - slide shows from birth to just a few days before a beautiful young woman's death, touching eulogies from friends, comforting words from religious leaders.

It seemed that some people were where I suppose I thought - or think - I should be.  They gently joked with the family and spoke of the future.  In my head, I am still screaming at the sun each morning, wondering how it dares to shine when such a precious child has been taken from us.  This loss is still my last thought before tossing and turning, and it is still my first thought when I finally give up and get out of bed in the morning.

There is no catharsis, no forward progress, no faith that I will see her again, in the place called heaven.

December 27, 2012

David Gregory, law breaker

I am sure you have seen by now, the still shots of NBC's David Gregory waving around an empty 30 round magazine.


And, you have probably heard that he might have broken one of Washington D.C.'s gun control laws by possessing that magazine.  Don't kid yourself, that wasn't Gregory's magazine.  And though the police are 'investigating', I would bet that there is someone smart enough at NBC (giggle) to go to the prop department and dig out a reasonable facsimile of the same item and present it to the cops as what was shown on the teevee.  If not, then they deserve what's coming to them.  I am sure that the blame will fall firmly on some staff wonk's shoulders, as a venerable journalist such as Mr. Gregory would never push the envelope trying to politicize a gun control issue in the wake of a national tragedy/mass shooting.  (I know, I am full of laughs today).

Has it occurred to anyone at the DC police, NBC News, or any other news outlet gleefully covering the story, that maybe their time would be better spent figuring out how to get the high capacity magazines and shooty things away from people that shouldn't have them, rather than focusing on the guy with an empty magazine and no weapon who clearly never intends to soil his creamy white hands with a firearm?

December 26, 2012

Post-holiday FOD

As you are surely aware, Blowie and fam are vacationing in Hawaii.  The president has managed to squeeze in two rounds of golf since landing on Saturday.

Of note was his playing partner during the first round - Sam Kass, White House Chef, and personal cook to the Obamas.  Apparently, he is a chef and golfer. 

I have seen several different presentations of the fact that past presidents (notably both Bushes) chose to stay close to D.C. for the holidays, allowing staff time to be with their families.  These chain emails and blog posts draw the conclusion that the Obamas are selfish and greedy, forcing so many staff members, aides, and members of the press to be so far from home at Christmas. 

I spent Christmas in Hawaii a few years back, and while there was plenty to bitch about (traveling with relatives), the location, scenery, and temperature weren't among the complaints.  But, that was a special occasion that was planned for months and required a modified decorating, celebrating,and gifting schedule.  I don't think I would like to do that every year.  Granted, if I had a cadre of taxpayer funded staff to schlep my gifts, cook and clean, and herd my kids, it might not be such a daunting challenge.  Still, it is nice to go 'home' for Christmas. 

I can't get past the crass materialism that the annual presidential Christmas trip exhibits.  What percentage of Americans will never have the means to travel - much less to Hawaii - for a vacation or holiday?  I wish the Obamas would step off the plane and thumb their noses at the press corps - at least there is some honesty in that.

December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

A very merry Christmas to you and yours, wherever you are on this day. 

I do believe this is the first time in my life that there were thunderstorms on Christmas morning.  When my two youngest came running around 2:30 am, I thought they were going to want to open gifts, but, all they wanted was reassurance, a hug, and a spot in bed until they fell back to sleep.  That is just the sort of gift I needed this Christmas.

The rain continues, and if the forecasters are to be believed, around lunchtime it will turn to snow.  Of course, all that rain that is already on the ground will turn to ice, and the temps here tomorrow aren't supposed to get above freezing.  The day after Christmas promises to be a travel nightmare.

I am content, as the weather guarantees that my children will remain near me, snuggled up to watch new movies, gathered around the gaming system jockeying for position in virtual sports and contests (The Princess shaking her booty to Dance Central 3 and Just Dance 4 in ways that make her dad uncomfortable), and crowding around the table at meal time - safe, sound, happy, and together. 

I wish each of you whatever will bring you the most joy this holiday.  Life is fleeting and precious, live it to the fullest.  God Bless.

December 24, 2012

The Eve

As we have been reminded, I remind you - hold your loved ones close this holiday.  Don't let any opportunity to cherish your family pass you by.

I marked the time just now, it was 7:03 am, when the first (and youngest) child asked for the first time today, what time we would be going to grandma's house.  (We open our presents to and from the grandparents on Christmas Eve).  The Princess was up thirty minutes earlier, searching for that dang Elf, and already in tears that he will be leaving us tonight.  I think there might be a lesson in that, but I am not currently capable of delving deeply into the morality lessons to be found in my children's differing priorities.

News of the tragedy in our neighborhood has spurred many conversations, one with a neighbor a few doors down, who just put a 'For Sale by Owner' sign in their yard.  While not close or social, we are friendly, so I was taken aback to learn that the man of the house had gone through cancer treatment earlier this year.  Though healthy now, they had taken stock of their lives and decided that they wanted to live differently, downsize the house, spend more time doing things as a family instead of maintaining material items.  That same thought process has been at the back of my mind for some time now.

Family is where it's at, Jack.  I have no doubt.  Though it is a week away, that word (family) has become my resolution. 

December 22, 2012

Heartbroken

It seems I have written a few posts with the same title and it sucks each and every time.  This one hits very close to home.

Today we were returning from the grocery store when we saw a fire truck running lights and sirens into our neighborhood.  We live in a small town, and our neighborhood is smaller still, with most of the families having lived here for 10+ years.  We drove around our block and saw where the fire truck had gone.  A great family's house.  Daughter in the same class as Boom since elementary school, two older brothers that were sports stars, mom active in the community and school, dad an anesthesiologist that has been present at a number of my surgeries.  I always love that he enters the pre-op area and announces "better living through chemistry!" as he explains his part of the procedure.

As we drove by, we saw that there was already an ambulance and police car in the drive where the engine was parking.  We turned around to head home and met the mom driving toward her house - I will never forget the look on her face.

When we got home, I dialed up the online scanner channel for our fire department.  We watched as other police, another ambulance and then our fire chief's vehicle sped by.  Minutes passed and then I heard the chief's voice on the scanner as he and the ambulance headed up the street.  I don't know what some of their EMS-speak meant, but the dispatcher acknowledged that CPR was being performed en route.  I knew it was bad at that point. Very bad.

A million things went through my mind.  I thought maybe the dad had suffered a heart attack.  I thought that maybe someone had fallen or been electrocuted related to Christmas decorating.  I wondered if someone had wrecked the tractor or been trampled by a horse.  With three kids home from college for the holidays, it could have been anything.  I remembered that the youngest, the only girl, and Boom's friend and classmate, had undergone surgery recently, I thought maybe there was some complication.

I prayed.  We watched the emergency vehicles go back up the street one by one.  My mom (who lives closer to them) called to report that when the fire chief arrived, he left his vehicle door open and sprinted into the house.  We waited.  We wondered.  We tried to call a few people.  We prayed more.  We saw a neighbor's cryptic, but scary Facebook post asking why "things like this happen".

Then came word.  It was Boom's friend.  The same girl that was wishing her college team good luck in their bowl game on Facebook just hours earlier had passed out and couldn't be revived.  A blood clot and fatal heart attack.  She was a month away from her 19th birthday and now she is gone.

There is no objective place for me to go right now.  I am broken for this family.  It is a horrible, tragic reminder that we must live every moment of our lives as if they could be our last.  I hugged all my kids.  I spent a great deal of time telling Boom how much I love her and how proud I am of her - that last part being important because I have really been beating her up about her first semester's grades.  I must do better at being a parent and disciplinarian but never forgetting to show my love, appreciation, and pride in my children, my husband, my extended family. 

I'm really mad at God.  I know all the things I am supposed to rely on in times like this, but, crap, why do these things happen to such good people? 

Farting Around

Aren't we all relieved that the Obamas have safely landed in Hawaii for their annual vacation/gift from the taxpayers?  While I face a day of wrapping, shopping, cooking, entertaining children, cleaning, chores, and a little office work on the side, it is good to know that the president is hitting the waves, soaking up the sun, and relaxing.  Why don't the Obamas ever spend Christmas in Chicago, where Michelle was born and raised and where they own a home?

If it weren't for that fiscal cliff thing, I would be glad that Blowie was out of Washington and not screwing things up.  As it is, I don't hold out much hope for meaningful negotiation as both sides seem content to stick it to the taxpayers, rather than curb their own spending.

For any of you out there in cyberspace that think the government is a good manager of our country's affairs, I submit this stunning example of how a typical governmental agency office operates:
A federal employee was formally reprimanded this month for excessive workplace flatulence, a sanction that was delivered to him in a five-page letter that actually included a log of representative dates and times when he was recorded “releasing the awful and unpleasant odor” in his Baltimore office.
Yes, you read that correctly.  Some Social Security Disability office drones take time out of their busy, taxpayer funded, schedules, to record the time and date of their co-worker's farts.  There has been an investigation.  There have been two or more prior meetings with the employee about his workplace farting.  Now there is a 5 page formal reprimand.
The reprimand letter does not reveal how the worker’s flatulence was memorialized, nor whether that unfortunate task fell to labor or management.
The letter’s author wrote that the employee’s conduct had been “discourteous, disrespectful, and entirely inappropriate,” and was worthy of a formal sanction, which is placed in a worker’s personnel files for up to one year. The reprimand, the manager noted, “is the least severe penalty available to impress upon you the seriousness of your actions and is necessary to deter future misconduct.”
Hit that link and read the letter.  Try not to laugh or cry.  This is your government at work, folks. 


December 21, 2012

AR Sellers Market

It isn't uncommon to see any number or type of firearm and/or accessory around my workplace.  Guns, cases, gun parts, magazines, ammo,  In fact, my boss has a little array of ammo on his desk - single rounds of a dozen or so sizes/types arranged in a little semi-circle on the corner of his desk.  I like to rearrange it into different, yet logical, patterns and orders to see if he can figure out what I have done.

No one I work with needs another gun.  That doesn't stop them from wanting.  And they love to shop for other people - find guns for them, sell guns for them, etc.

As the AR hysteria has set in, one of the guys at work was asked to buy a couple of guns for his son that lives in another state.  Wednesday he went to three gun stores, two sporting goods stores, and called several more.  There aren't any ARs to buy.  He spoke of walking up to gun counters that were wall to wall people.

There was serious talk of traveling for several hours to invest a considerable sum in, what apparently is, the last decent stock of ARs.  We were taking bets on how ridiculously crowded a local gun show will be this weekend.  We were comparing email newsletters from various dealers and outfitters that told us of the lack of stock.

And it isn't just here in north Texas, Google "AR sales" and there is story after story about the spike in sales:
Assault rifles are selling out faster than store owners can replace them in the wake of the Connecticut school shooting.
Gun owners say the shooting and possible gun restrictions on the horizon have prompted people to buy the guns.

"We've really been selling a lot of them the last few days," said Broken Arrow Gun Shop Owner Pat Johnston.

You could see just about every gun in his store Wednesday except an assault rifle. The store owner had just sold the last one.

"Folks are telling us they would like to get one before the restrictions," said Johnston.

He's sold 21 assault rifles in the past two days. Johnston says on average he usually only sells two to three a month. He says now people just want to be protected.
Yeah, protected against the government.
Aberdeen gun shops can't keep up with demand for assault rifles over fears that new gun-control legislation could be passed by Congress.
 "All the dealers I get stuff from are running out; the stockpile is being depleted," said Lucas Young, owner of Young Guns at 1724 Sixth Ave. S.E.
And the manufacturers aren't taking orders:
On a national scene, Hermann said Ruger Arms stopping taking orders back in March. “They had a million back orders, and they’re working at full capacity, but they can’t fill all the requests so they stopped taking them.” He also noted that gun manufacturer Sig Sauer’s phone goes directly to an answering message that says they’ll try to call back within two to four days.
One can only hope that the people buying ARs are also calling their representatives and letting them know that they hold the 2nd Amendment dear, and that the government needs to quit talking about taking the guns away from the good people.

December 20, 2012

Christmas Conundrum

I started my new job at the end of October.  While I was acquainted with the president of the company and his office manager for several years before taking the job, the rest of the employees were strangers to me when I hired on.

I have acclimated to my office mates, and enjoy their company - but it seems a little too soon to delve into serious gifting.  My normal go-to casual gift of choice would be a food item, as we have managed to squeeze in some baking and confection-making time over the past few days. 

Unfortunately, one of my co-workers is on a militant diet.  Giving her food seems insensitive. Giving her something else different than what I may give to everyone else something else seems discriminatory.  Oh, not really, it just sounds like more trouble than it is worth and I have enough on my plate right now. 

I am not well versed in who likes what and if there are any significant dislikes or allergies.  I really don't know anyone well enough to give them something any more thoughtful than a bucket of sugary goodness, so it will either be the insensitive food route or nothing at all.

We have been getting tons of food gifts from vendors - and office policy is to put it out for all to share.  Lordy, the treats we have piling up in the kitchen.  Even that has created hard feelings as someone absconded with the December jelly of the month and an entire package of spiced pecans.  The concrete guys latched on to the jar of pistachios that was sent - note to self, bribe concrete guys with pistachios as needed.

Quite frankly, if everyone at the office stays as bitchy as they have been this week, they are going to get lumps of coal in their stocking, anyway, no matter what I think they deserve.  I have a theory about that.  I think that some people didn't get that toy they wanted when they were a kid, so they get angry during the holidays, though they probably don't even know why.  At least that is my theory about grumpy men at Christmas.  Us girls, we get stressed and pissed off because we have to do everything.  Every f'ing thing.

I gotta go wrap Crash's book for his class exchange, pack the unwrapped toy for The Princess's class collection, finish addressing Christmas cards, wrap a dozen or so things and make some spritz cookies while Mr. Harper enjoys his coffee...

December 19, 2012

Unpopular Elephants

Old NFO made some excellent points about the elephant(s) in the room regarding the massacre in Newton, CT.  That post led to this one.  I know it won't be popular.  I know that many won't agree, but the elephant is in my room and I am going to address it head on.  My fictional elephant, my real opinion - such is the beauty of a blog.

There are people in this world that should be institutionalized.  Their immediate family members aren't always able to see the writing on the wall, and perhaps, shouldn't be the only decision makers in many situations.

Once upon a time our society locked far too many people away in places where unspeakable things happened to them.  We locked them up, and largely forgot about them, for mental and physical deformities, disease, mental illness.  Even people needing advanced medical care were among the various reasons and diagnoses that were once acceptable and/or suggested reasons to institutionalize people. 

Thankfully, people started to question the automatic institutionalization of certain groups, recognizing that appropriate care could be provided for many of these people at home.  Down's Syndrome, epilepsy, and developmental disabilities weren't reasonable conditions to justify locking people away for their entire lives.

Pharmaceutical development of anti-psychotic drugs led to the de-institutionalization of people with more severe mental illnesses.

Then came the mainstreaming craze.  And I think this is part of the problem.  Some kids should not be in public schools.

When we have to hire additional and specific staff and teachers for schools, to accommodate special classes of children, how is that beneficial to the other 98% of the kids there?  Are school psychologists and special ed teachers really the best solution for mentally ill children?

I went to school with a boy who could not speak, was confined to a wheelchair and had limited use of his limbs.  He had both mental and developmental issues.  He was an extremely angry person.  He had some sort of communication device - well before the computers of today.  I remember saying hello to him, only to have him type out - and a computerized voice say to me - something quite vulgar and hateful.

I remember another school mate that was, literally and routinely, put in a straight jacket.  He would fly into rages and there would be an announcement over the intercom for all male staff to report to his classroom, where they would restrain him until he calmed down.

In second grade, Boom had a classmate that acted out constantly.  He said horrible things to people, acted violently, was a constant distraction.  He tripped Boom whenever she walked by.  One day he choked her and pushed her up against the wall.  She wasn't his only victim. 

And did anyone suggest that he needed more help than mainstreaming him in public school had to offer?  Hell. No.

There are kids that torture animals, set fires, take bucketfuls of prescription drugs, and because of our overly politically correct, equal treatment for all mindset, are sitting next to your precious little Johnny at school each day. 

I submit that we haven't really haven't done away with mental institutions, we have simply moved the asylum into our schools. 

December 17, 2012

Yeah, what he said...

A gentleman named Randy Blythe, who is the lead singer, apparently, of a metal band called 'Lamb of God', put into words what I think many of us feel as we watch politicians politicize tragedy, what we feel when people don't/won't stand up, remove their hats and sing along with our national anthem, and what we feel as we witness the daily degradation of our core values.  Mr. Blythe was speaking particularly about those in his concert audience who chose not to observe a moment of silence in honor of the massacre in Connecticut - something even my kindergartener managed to do at school today. 

Being a Constitutional-minded American, I respect the right for all to have an opinion, and for them to express it.  Being a thinking, feeling, decent human being, I know enough to be respectful and even be silent when my verbal disagreement will only cause others to be angry or uncomfortable.  I have heard similar feelings expressed all over the Facebook world since Friday.  This is my little corner of the Internet, I get to do what I want and I also get to control what gets posted by others here.  The same goes, in my mind, for Mr. Blythe and his moment of silence request at his concert.  Observe it, or at least STFU and appear to be observing it for the sake of those around you that have a heart.
During Lamb Of God‘s concert at the Armory in Medford, Oregon Friday night, frontman Randy Blythe requested one minute of silence in remembrance of the children lost in the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy earlier that morning.
While the majority of the crowd quietly paid their respects, a disturbing number of concertgoers made noise, talked and generally disrupted the otherwise peaceful moment.
After the concert, a shaken Blythe took to Instagram to express his disgust for those that couldn’t “shut up for sixty lousy seconds.”
“We, lamb of god, asked for sixty seconds of silence during our 1st set break to honor the dead children & teachers in CT. It seemed appropriate- it’s a goddamned national TRAGEDY. Most of the crowd complied, but several didn’t, some cursing & even laughing. I wanted to walk off stage.
I am so disgusted right now- if you were one of those who wouldn’t shut up for SIXTY LOUSY SECONDS to honor twenty MURDERED CHILDREN- go look in the mirror. You are looking at a piece of sh**.
Your parents are obviously pieces of sh** too, because they raised you to behave with no dignity. To the fans who were respectful, I thank you. I am also sorry you have so many goddamned ***holes in your community.
You should do something about that. This sh** would not have happened at a lamb of god show where I live, & that is a FACT. We have more manners. I am just disgusted. Thoroughly DISGUSTED. You yelling people give metal a bad name-screw that, you give humanity a bad name.
Grow up. Your parents should have beaten some manners into you, you savage little beasts. With that I will go to bed, say a prayer for those suffering, & hope for a better day tomorrow, because tonight SUCKED.”

FOD T-213

There are places you just don't go when a tragedy strikes.  Things you don't do.  Statements you don't make.  Questions you don't ask.  There is always an insensitive jerk or two that exacerbates grief, but most grown people know how to act when death comes.

In bad situations we all have roles to play.  I will never forget the first time I had to tell one of my children that someone dear to them had died.  There is responsibility in the role, even as we too are grieving.

Barack Obama failed as a leader when he chose to bring up gun control right out of the gate.  Parents hadn't even been officially notified of the deaths of their children - the bodies weren't even positively identified, when the president took the podium and vowed to take "meaningful action". 

The only meaningful action that should be taken in the days immediately after a tragedy, is to comfort the families.  The president should unite our country in times of national tragedy and grief, not divide.  Our nation wants to gather together behind the residents of Newtown, not stand divided by the cries for gun control.

December 16, 2012

Still reeling

I still don't feel like it is appropriate to complain about politics or joke about my family.  While trying to go on about my daily life, I am still constantly struck by the magnitude of the school massacre in Connecticut.

I tried to finish up my Christmas shopping yesterday - only to be reminded of presents that are probably sitting under trees that will never be opened by those they were intended to delight.  I thought of families that lost a child, but still need to carry on in some manner for the surviving children.

The photos that are now coming out have broken my heart all over again.  The only thing that I know for certain in the midst of this horrifying tragedy is that we all share the grief that these families are feeling.

December 15, 2012

Praying

I don't have adequate words to express the many emotions I have in relation to the horrific massacre of innocent children that took place in Connecticut.

I did what many parents probably did yesterday - I hugged my kids hard and often, told them how much I loved them, thanked God for them, all the while having the knowledge that there were parents in Connecticut that would never get to do that with their children again.  The pain they are feeling is unimaginable.

We don't even know the names of all the victims yet, but some have already sought to make this tragedy about so many other things than what it should be right now.  There is nothing more important than loving these families through this time.  Families have lost their loved ones, many of them precious children.  Surviving children were subjected to unspeakable horror.  A community is shattered.  Our nation is heartbroken.

I don't know anyone in Connecticut, I have no indication that there is any direct connection from my family to any of those affected by this massacre.  But I feel the loss as if it were my own.  I grieve for each of the lives lost.  I pray that the families somehow find peace.

December 14, 2012

A Christmas Poem

The backstory on the poem is available here. It is interesting to note that CNN's White House reporters are housed in the basement with the other cable outlets, while ABC, NBC and CBS are upstairs like big kids.  As much campaigning as they do for Blowie, you would think they had merited a promotion and move.

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
The 2012 White House Press Basement Version
by Greg Clugston
‘Twas the night before Christmas and in the White House,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that a tax plan soon would be there.
The holiday treats were stale and bland,
After Mrs. Obama had sugar plums banned.
The president was sleeping – for the hour was late,
He was tired and groggy, like the Denver debate.
He dreamed of the year and his bruising campaign,
Romney was tougher, it seems, than McCain.
With the economy weak and the jobless rate high,
Mitt made his case as the best fix-it guy.
Republicans eyed victory – there was change in the air,
In Tampa, Clint Eastwood conversed with a chair.
Romney rose in the polls and enjoyed his ascent,
But, oh, how he stumbled with “47 percent.”
Challenges abound in this new second term,
A Susan Rice pick could be tough to confirm.
Obamacare won with John Roberts at the wheel,
But the birth control mandate remains under appeal.
There’s John Boehner, of course, and their partisan tiff,
That threatens to drive us straight over the cliff!
With a Cabinet shuffle and more slots to fill,
He listed off changes, but held doubts for the Hill:
“It’s goodbye to Hillary, Panetta, and Tim;
And David Petraeus – now who’ll follow him?”
Suddenly, on the South Lawn, there arose such a clatter,
Obama looked up to see what was the matter.
Then what did appear, to wondering eyes?
But a man of great stature — and considerable size.
His eyes – how they twinkled!  His dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
Chubby and plump and his eyes a bit misty,
There stood New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
He had come from the coast, badly battered by Sandy,
Seeking FEMA assistance and some holiday candy.
Christie praised POTUS for keeping Jersey afloat,
A far cry from his GOP convention keynote.
Riding high in the polls, Christie’s eyes held a gleam,
Was he thinking of running in 2016?
A White House bid comes at quite a high price,
So the president offered some political advice.
And I heard him exclaim, though it sounded absurd:
“Merry Christmas to all!  And don’t mess with Big Bird!”

December 13, 2012

Lame Duck Commander

As much as I love me some Duck Dynasty, I wouldn't suggest actually purchasing anything from their online store at this time of the year.

I am cutting them some slack there, by defining the time of year, which, I hope, coupled with their current crest of popularity, is the reason for customer service and order fulfilling issues that should result in a Jase-worthy rant.

Part of the 'fun' of this time of year is keeping the circumstances of how certain gifts were thought of or acquired.  Some of those stories are pleasant, some not so much.  This is turning into more of the latter, though I suspect my explanation to the boys will elicit a laugh, when I tell them that Uncle Si must have filled our order, with Godwin in charge of quality control.

Bearing in mind that I placed my order in late November, and there are still 11 shopping and shipping days until Christmas, I am trying to be an optimist.  Since no one at Duck Commander sees fit to answer emails and their phone lines have been busy for days, my optimism is waning.  

December 12, 2012

Quirks or Perks

Whited has a post up, claiming that a messy desk and sorting of Skittles earns one the title of 'strange'.

I sort Skittles.  Unlike Whited's example, I am a traditional Skittles flavor-eater.  I sort them into little piles of yellow, green, orange, red, and purple.  That is also the order I eat them in. 

When I was a kid, I ate the topping off my pizza and then the crust.  I consumed all of the piece, just in layers.  The Princess does that now.

Though I lack much superstition, when walking, I will make a bit of an effort to avoid significant cracks in the pavement - thus saving my mother a broken back.

I cannot sit or stand under things hanging from the ceiling - light fixtures, pot racks, open ductwork, etc.  Unless I took part in the engineering and hanging of said object.

I am afraid of bridges over land, but am not bothered by bridges over water.

I can't read a heartfelt greeting card.  I love funny cards, but balk at the serious ones.  If it has butterflies, hearts,glitter, fancy fonts, and/or flowery language, I do my best to pretend to read it - I just can't read it.  It gives me a feeling akin to what it must feel like to see one's parents having sex.  Ick.  Just can't do it.

I suppose I could reflect on these idiosyncrasies and draw several different conclusions, most of which would require psychoanalysis to sort through.  I choose to be optimistic and congratulate myself on having such a keen sense of self awareness. 

December 11, 2012

Drunk Cowboys

Early Saturday morning, Dallas Cowboy Josh Brent drove drunk and killed his friend and teammate, Jerry Brown.

It doesn't take a forensic investigation, toxicology results or an autopsy to figure out that a one car accident at 2::30 am, after leaving a club, had something to do with alcohol and poor judgement.

Go ahead and call me a racist now, as I dive into this.

Brent and Brown were leaving a private club within a club, 'Privae' - one of those 'you have to be somebody' to get upstairs places.  Some crass, materialistic, name-dropping woman named Kimesha Jackson has the title of 'promoter/event coordinator' for the club.  She frequently tweets about who and how many NBA and NFL players are in the club.  She also, conveniently for this police investigation, tweets about what and how much everyone is drinking.  Armand de Brignac 'Ace of Spades' champagne is apparently some sort of drinking status symbol, and Privae claims to sell so much that they can't keep it in stock. 

The night/morning of the accident, she sent out a tweet claiming that 12 Cowboys were in the building, followed by a tweeted commentary on how much 'Ace' 'these fools' were buying.

So who were the other 10 players?  And what has the team done to make sure that this sort of thing doesn't happen again?

As has been mentioned in nearly every article about this tragic situation, the NFL provides a free ride program.  That seems to be where any acknowledgement, pro-action, or discipline related to alcohol consumption ends. 

Remember when athletes were role models?  When, even if they weren't what they appeared to be, the coach, team, and ownership demanded a certain level of decorum and had clear expectations (and consequences) for player's behavior? 

I have no tolerance for drunk drivers.  It is all the more infuriating when the victims and perpetrators are people with every means of getting alternate transportation, and people who squander their God-given talent and opportunities for a night of partying.

December 10, 2012

FOD T-214

Golf Count:  108

As Obama golfs and has fruitless meetings with John Boehner,  a military veteran is chained to his bed in a jail cell in Mexico -
The reason might seem ludicrous. Hammar took a six-decade-old shotgun into Mexico. The .410 bore Sears & Roebuck shotgun once belonged to his great-grandfather. The firearm had been handed down through the generations, and it had become almost a part of Hammar, suitable for shooting birds and rabbits.
But Mexican prosecutors who looked at the disassembled relic in the 1972 Winnebago motor home dismissed the U.S. registration papers Hammar had filled out. They charged him with a serious crime: possession of a weapon restricted for use to Mexico’s armed forces.
And what is our government doing to free an innocent American?  Our own Customs and Border Protection agents told Hammar that it was legal to take the gun.   They had him fill out paperwork and pay a fee, then sent him on his way  where he was taken into custody for possessing the gun that our government had just cleared.

Meanwhile,  Loyola University Medical Center just performed a FREE kidney transplant for an illegal immigrant.  I know WWII veterans that can't afford their medication, much less hospitalizations, but illegals are getting free transplants.  I won't even delve into where that organ came from and which legal American citizen didn't get life saving surgery because Jorge thinks that American tax payers should fund his health care.

December 9, 2012

The Obligatory Johnny Heismanziel Post

Full disclosure: I am an avid football fan and my daughter attends Texas A&M University.

Johnny Manziel, redshirt freshman quarterback, won the Heisman Trophy.  Whoop!

I am proud that a kid from Tyler and Kerrville, Texas, had a record-breaking year.  I am nothing more than an armchair analyst, but I have watched a lot of football in my day and have never seen anyone else play quite the way Johnny Football does.

I applaud the other players that were in contention.  What a great season each of you had.  I hope that each of you goes on to achieve your dreams - whatever they may be (as long as they don't include playing for the Dallas Cowboys - I just can't get behind you on that!).

I understand and support the fact that everyone is entitled to their opinion and the right to voice it.  I do hope that certain members of my family can back off their ugly comments about the character of both JFF and those that support him, remembering that glass houses thing.

Way to go Johnny!  You have done your state, school, team and family proud.

December 8, 2012

Cliff Diving

I wonder if the Obama family plans to spend any time at Spitting Cave while they are in Hawaii.  I am aware that there is one of those meaningless White House petitions going around, demanding that they forgo the annual trek to the islands and save the taxpayers $4 million, but that will never happen.

Spitting Cave is a cliff diving spot.  BTW, remember back in the day when they used to show cliff diving on the weekend sport shows?  Wonder why that is less marketable than some of the other things that pass for sports now.  I think it would be a great photo op to get the president in a picture with a cliff diver.

So the question is will he or won't he? - let our country go off the proverbial fiscal cliff, that is.  There are arguments to be made on both sides of the issue.  A large and unavoidable one being that he is a second term president with little to fear at this point.  It isn't like we can un-elect him.  It isn't like he really cares about America or its economy. My money is on the Obama's vacationing in Hawaii regardless of the situation.  And, if I had to venture a guess, I would bet that the cliff looms large and unavoidable.

If a crisis is averted, it will only be because a large group of Repubs acquiesce and agree to things that no real conservative should agree to.  There is really no way that any of the negatives of the situation will be blamed on anyone else, so I think they should stand their ground.  There is a reason why McConnell LOL'd at Geitner's presentation of the administration's proposals.  The unspoken plan is to keep offering nothing at the table, but run to the press with a plethora of sob stories about how uncooperative the Right is.

December 7, 2012

December 7, 1941


Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 -- a date which will live in infamy -- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.
Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.
It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.
The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.
Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.
Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.
And this morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island.
Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.
As commander in chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.
No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.
I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.
Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.
With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph -- so help us God.
I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.

December 6, 2012

When do kids learn?

For you old pros out there - be it parents or family members of now grown up people that you knew as kids - when do they learn? 

When do they learn that they aren't smarter than their parents? 

When do they learn that we see right through their bullshit stories?

When do they learn that we long ago mastered the art of checking up on them without them knowing?  Seriously, parents aren't ninjas, but we are wickedly resourceful. 

My two youngest are just immature and I hold out hope for the future.  Hope that I have been a better parent, have instilled a stronger sense of honesty and integrity in them, and that they will find some magical drive to succeed as they age.  Maybe they could just sit and watch their siblings kill me and learn from it... 

My two oldest must think I am an imbecile.  Bang's high school has an online grading system that sends me alerts when he is tardy, absent, gets a failing grade, and if/when his GPA drops below a certain point.  The system sends out the emails around midnight, so seeing that notice in my email each morning has become a rude awakening - for all involved.  Then the ridiculous excuses and blank looks start.  I think I would rather hear, 'I forgot about that', than some of the pathetic reasons he comes up with for not doing, turning in, or understanding his homework.

Boom is in college, and like many parents around the country, I am faced with the fact that I write the checks but have limited access to knowing what is going on.  I don't want to talk to her teachers or anything, but I also don't want to finance a semester of partying and/or blowing off classes just for the hell of it, only to find out after all the financial damage is done.  Colleges realize the 'we need to please the people who are paying' conundrum and provide a handy release form for kids to sign that gives certain departments and personnel the ability to discuss grades, attendance, and performance of the adult child.  This permission was granted to me, but I am fairly certain Boom has forgotten that as she spins her web of deception.  She has delved into the 'class is optional' delusion and clearly thinks that she can pull off an Academy Award-worthy look of surprise and dismay when semester grades come out. 

Boom told me today that she was likely to go straight to her dad's house at the beginning of Christmas break, to see a family member that is leaving the next day.  Not sure whether I believe that, or if that is the safest place she could think of to be when semester grades are released.

I have passed the unhinged and irate parent point, but Mr. Harper feels it is important to let the child fail, utterly and completely, on their own, for the lesson to truly be learned.  While I generally agree, I am particularly stung by the cost of some of these lessons.  And yes, I have been told that I should be thankful that my kid isn't failing any classes, or dropping out or school, or doing drugs (she leaves that to her roommate), or in jail - but, really, why should I dumb down my expectations just because other kids are doing worse?

December 5, 2012

Blame the man

Much too late for those who wanted to sensationalize a tragic murder-suicide, the facts about Jovan Belcher's last few hours are now coming out.
Past violence against women - check.
Known problems in current relationship - check.
Drinking in the hours before shooting(s) - check.
But if only guns were outlawed, all of those other issues wouldn't have manifested themselves, right?

Not much has been said about Belcher's early life, or any hardships he may have endured.  His mother was living with him, helping out with the, now orphaned, child - so the couple could 'work things out'.  This man had talent, money, family, support, and a good job - but chose violence.

I can name several people that have had a lifetime of heartache and hard times.  People who have lost, suffered, been victimized, and trampled on.  None of them turned to violence to solve their problems or deal with confrontations.  Character, morality, and wisdom (or the lack thereof) have a valid place in this argument, yet no one brings it up.

December 4, 2012

Molehills

Last week, many of us were playing the magical Powerball 'what if' game, daydreaming of all of the things we could do and have, if only our numbers came in.  I tend to dream small and realistically, of paying off debt, providing for family and friends, and traveling to historical and sentimental spots.  I am sure I could probably fit in a ridiculously expensive sports car or ten, but what I think would be the most fun and fulfilling way to spend a fortune would be to do good for others.

I own a few pairs of Toms shoes and envy those whose job it is to give kids the shoes that I fund with my purchases.  There is a local Red Cross representative that is often seen on the evening news, as she hands out blankets at a shelter, or works with a family whose home has just burned down.  Even in the dead of night, or the worst weather, she is smiling.  I cried like a baby as a wounded Army veteran was given a home at an A&M football game.  I would love to have a job where all I did was make people happy. 

With all of the sickness, poverty, homelessness, and crime in the world, you don't have to look very hard to find someone, or something, that could benefit from a helping hand, a kind word, a thoughtful prayer.

So, who are the assholes of the world that go around finding the most minute items of bullshit to complain about?
An Ohio community college forced a construction crew to remove its “Men Working” sign after the sign was deemed sexist and non-inclusive by a college administrator.

The construction crew at Sinclair Community College in Dayton was forced to stop working until the sign had been removed.

A spokesman for the college told Fox News that they have a deep commitment to diversity and take it quite seriously.

“While it may not have been necessary to suggest work be stopped, we stand by our commitment to providing an environment that is inclusive and non-discriminatory,” director of public information Adam Murka told Fox News.

The controversy started when a female employee took issue with the “Men at Work” sign. Murka said the employee suggested several alternative phrases to the hard hats – including “construction zone.”

He said the construction worker complied with the college’s demands and removed the sign. At this point it’s unclear what the wording of the replacement sign will be.
Let me help you out on the replacement sign:

December 3, 2012

FOD T -215

Golf Count 107!

I get my golf count from Keith Koffler, a frequent source for FOD postings.  Today is no exception.

Obama Travels to Pennsylvania to Speak for 18 Minutes 

by Keith Koffler on November 30, 2012, 5:31 pm
Here we go. The second term carelessness with the taxpayers’ money begins.
President Obama flew Air Force One to Philadelphia and then hopped aboard Marine One for another 15-minute flight north to Hatfield, Pa., just to spend 18 minutes haranguing Republicans about the fiscal cliff.
He spoke at the K’NEX toy manufacturing company. Hmm, visiting a toymaker before Christmas. Very suspicious.
Wait a second. From the pool report filed upon Obama’s return:
POTUS touched down at about 2.35pm on Marine One and proceeded to the West Wing without incident.
Trailing behind was Marvin Nicholson, carrying a number of bags marked with the word. K’Nex, the toy factory Mr Obama visited earlier in Philadelphia.
Okay, now this is making sense . . .
Not only do taxpayers foot the bill for the Obama's annual Hawaiian Christmas, we also foot the bill for Obama to do his shopping.  Wait, if it is free toy company swag, does it still count as shopping?

December 2, 2012

Harper Rules Football

As the regular college football season ends, I plan to get part of my Saturdays back, both for myself, and through the use/attention of my husband, who is in a perpetual football coma on the weekends.  It normally isn't so bad, but I think the lack of hockey this fall has caused his sports addiction to shift to a solid football diet.

Last night, watching the KSU vs t.u. game, I proposed a new rule.  After years of watching youth sports, I have seen my share of soccer goals and basketball points scored for the opposing team when the kids get confused and run and aim the wrong direction.  I think that if an opposing player intercepts the ball in the end zone, and is taken down in the end zone, that the other team gets a touchdown.  If he can intercept and get out of the end zone, then his team gets possession of the ball.  I don't have any particular argument to make, I just think it would be more exciting to watch the guy catch the ball and then try to get out of the melee of people trying to tackle him.  I think it would add a new element to the game, and defenders would really need to have some situational awareness to make the call on whether to catch the ball or not.

There was a call early in that game wherein an idiotic KSU player let go of the ball as he entered the end zone - let go of it in a macho, I just intercepted McCoy and walked it in, kind of a thing.  Problem was, the ball never broke the plane.  KSU ended up getting the ball on the half yard line, because the official had signaled a touchdown, so it was an inadvertent signal, instead of a touchback.  The play was reviewed for quite a bit before the ruling.  I think it would have been more fun if the official had trotted out on the field, announced that it was NOT a touchdown, the call was inadvertent, and then tossed a ball in the air and let the teams scramble from the sidelines to gain possession.

The lack of an exciting result to that call was offset by the reaction of Mack Brown on the sideline.  He was the best living, breathing illustration of the word "apoplectic" that I have ever seen.  I really thought he was going to stroke out right there.  Warmed my heart to see a good tantrum.  Kinda reminiscent of Spurrier's Florida days.  Football needs demonstrative coaches.

November 30, 2012

Diversion Tactics

Some people have a garage refrigerator, or a cooler stash somewhere.  Me, I just remember that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach.  


The Shiner Black is mine.  Just so Mr. Harper doesn't forget, I hide the Black behind the other varieties of Shiner and throw in the distraction of raspberry chipotle sauce (which is good on everything) and some cinnamon-y gooey tube product.

Distracting Style

Yesterday afternoon I saw an older, nearly elderly, woman with a spiky platinum blonde hairdo.  I did a double take.  My kids took note.  Then we went on about our business.

Last year, my children's school lifted their dress code restriction requiring male hair to be above the eyebrows and collar.  This, mostly in a delayed response to the early Bieber hair tossing phenomenon.  Now there is a boy who I mistake for a girl every time - it is the age of Aquarius all over again.  But it doesn't affect my daily routine.

This year, in particular, I have been driven to distraction by the amount of hair flowing out of football helmets.  In some sort of Troy Polamalu-esque display, dozens of college and professional football players have more hair than brain cells.  A couple of weeks ago at an A&M football game, I heckled the opposing team's bench, using colorful language to suggest that some key players needed to get their hair cut.  I told my family I just wanted to walk along and whack off everything that is below the bottom of the helmet. 

This kid got removed from his Hill Country High School class for his "distracting" hairstyle:


When did "fun", "unique", and "spirited" become synonymous with "distracting"?

Sure, he was guaranteed to attract some attention the first couple of days he was at school - but are today's youth so pathetic that they simply can't do long division if someone in the room has an unusual (temporary) hairstyle?  How in the world do they survive Halloween, if they are so easily distracted by alternative hair styles?  I'm no educator, but I have been a lifelong student, and it seems to me that they best way to diffuse a potentially distracting hair situation in the classroom is to face it head on.  Acknowledge the "distraction" and move on.  

November 29, 2012

Dammit

Wasn't me.  Back to the grind.

The Gambler

I got sucked in to the whole Powerball thing yesterday.  Even as I tried to explain that the pot was huge because so many people were buying tickets, thus decreasing the already astronomical odds of winning, I was handing over my cash to buy into an office pool of numbers.

Our office manager had recently watched a documentary of some sort about lotteries, and took all steps necessary to head off any potential lawsuits and hurt feelings in the event that we win.  No hidden tickets or claims of one ticket bought for personal use and the others bought for the group pool.

I haven't checked the numbers yet...I need to dig through my stack of work and find the printout.

As I told my co-workers, that sum of money would make me the happiest if I could give it away to people I know and love, to make their lives easier.  I know people get greedy and stupid, which supports my belief that keeping just enough to invest and live comfortably on is the way to go, and then make it rain.

If you don't find me back here tomorrow, I might just be busy, picking up that giant check!

November 28, 2012

Texas Christmas Shopping episode 1

The enws is awash with the current price of the items detailed in "The Twelve Days of Christmas".  Thanks to our shitty economy and Obama's policies (c'mon, he's been playing the blame game for four years), the price to purchase the "Twelve Days" items this year would be $107,300.  And it is mostly crap that no one wants, anyway.

For about $250, you can get the 'Call of Duty Experience' at my local range, along with an all day range pass.  This fun day at the range includes the opportunity to shoot:
  
AR15 - M4 Carbine
Fire 10 rounds from the rifle used by the US military to protect our freedom around the world and by SWAT/Tactical Police units across the country!

The rifle is also equipped with a state of the art Trijicon
ACOG battle sight!
AK47
Experience the thrill of shooting 10 rounds of ammunition through what is officially known as the Avtomat Kalashnikova, or Kalashnikov, an "AK", or in Russian slang, Kalash!

More AK-type rifles have been produced than all other assault rifles combined.

This rifle is equipped with a
Meprolight M21 battle sight, the preferred sighting system of the Israeli army!
UZI 9mm Semi-Auto
A name that is recognized by almost everyone, it is a family of Israeli open bolt, blowback-operated weapons. The Uzi has found use as a personal defense weapon by rear-echelon troops, officers, artillery troops and tankers, as well as a frontline weapon by elite light infantry assault forces.

From the 1960s through the 1980s, Uzi submachine guns were sold to more military and police markets than any other submachine gun ever made. This may be your only chance to personally fire 10 rounds though a firearms legend!
Desert Eagle XIX .50 Action Express
Fire three rounds, all most people can handle, through this icon! This amazingly powerful handgun uses a gas-operated mechanism normally found in rifles, as opposed to the short recoil or blow-back designs most commonly seen in semi-automatic pistols.

The .50 AE is one of the most powerful pistol cartridges in production! Few people can make the claim of actually firing one of these amazing pieces of engineering. You will be in a very small group of elite sportsmen!
Beretta M9A1
The M9 is a short recoil, semi-automatic pistol which uses a 15-round staggered box magazine with a reversible magazine release button that can be positioned for either right- or left-handed shooters. The M9A1 is chambered in the standard NATO 9X19mm, or sometimes known as the 9mm Parabellum or 9mm Luger.
Doesn't that sound like a fun gift for the guy or gal who has everything but a Desert Eagle and an UZI?

November 27, 2012

Lean Forward

Mr. Harper loves to watch those "To Catch A Predator" shows.  He likes to watch the scumbags squirm, he delights in their discomfort when the cameras are revealed, he nearly cheers when the perps are tackled and handcuffed.  I am not sure if they are even doing those shows anymore, but the other night he stumbled on a replay of an episode on MSNBC as he was flipping through the channels killing time before the late news. 

I tucked in beside him, and was soon entertained (I can't think of a more distinctly explanatory word) by this commercial:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Good Lord, Almighty!  MSNBC should just declare themselves the official channel of Barack Obama.  Why bother pretending to be a news organization?  Matthews should, if he hasn't already, get a tattoo of Obama's face on his ass and bow to a Barack bobble head for his prayers.  Once upon a time, the American public would not have tolerated such a blatantly biased news organization.

"Lean Forward", indeed!

November 26, 2012

FOD 216

Golf count: 106 for the presidency, 14 this year (twice in two weeks, told ya he would ramp it up).

Why do we have a second inauguration ceremony?  Considering the cost, and the state of the economy, wouldn't it make more sense to quietly administer the Oath of Office, televise it if you must, and move on?

The 2009 festivities topped out at $170 million.  While the taxpayers don't foot the entire bill, we do pay for a hefty chunk of it:
The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies is responsible for the official swearing-in. Taxpayers pick up the tab for security and the costs connected to the ceremony on the west front of the Capitol, while Obama supporters cover various inaugural balls, concerts and parties.
Do the ceremony in the Oval, put it on Pay-Per-View and call it a day.

The White House isn't saying what the budget and fundraising targets are, but they are mulling over accepting corporate donations.  Blowie took the high and mighty road the first time around and wouldn't accept corporate donations, so as not to look like he could be bought.  But, certain Wall Street bigwigs were credited for bundling over $700 million for the inauguration.  Now, he's got nothing to lose, and us to screw for whatever he wants, so why not let all the corporate cronies pitch in?  At least we will know who is going to get some pork thrown their way.

November 25, 2012

Nothing for Something

The hurricane/super-storm known as Sandy was devastating.  There is no doubt that there was irreparable damage done to lives, homes, businesses, and landmarks.  I feel for each and every person affected by the storm.

As with any disaster, natural or otherwise, there was, and is, heroism, courage, generosity, and hard work in response to the damage.  Some organizations did better than others, but there is no doubt that all were trying to get things back in order.  I don't know much about power generation and transmission, but I have been without it and sympathize with the hardship.

Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), made a poor billing decision.  Likely they made a series of very bad, thoughtless, and short-sighted decisions when allowing for estimated bills to go out even as they are still getting a handle on whether the structures in question still remain standing, much less whether they have, and are consuming, power.
LIPA customers who spent weeks without power got zapped with their normal electric bills — as if the outages never happened.
The clueless utility charged Sandy-soaked Long Island residents an estimated rate that covered the entire billing cycle, and the statements made no mention of potential refunds to account for the prolonged blackouts.
Communication is key here, and they clearly FUBAR'd it.  And yet,
Jonathan Saporta was slapped with a double whammy by the Long Island Power Authority — a $649 bill for the Long Beach home he left in October and a $281 bill for his new Great Neck pad.
He also is expecting a $1,700 bill for his storm-ravaged restaurant, Jake’s Wayback Burger, which is in hard-hit Long Beach and remains without power.
 Saporta, 33, moved to the Great Neck home on Oct. 1 and got the bill in the mail on Wednesday for a cycle covering 43 days — including the two weeks he spent in the dark following the Oct. 29 storm.
 Even though he switched his account to the new address on Sept. 26, he still received an e-mail bill for the Long Beach house on Nov. 10 — and somehow it was $390 more than the previous month.

I am not paying any of my bills, that much I promise,” said Saporta. “They can put me into collections, and I’ll fight them tooth-and-nail.

“It’s simply criminal.”
Now wait just a minute.  LIPA makes a bad decision to send out estimated bills.  They are hard to get on the phone right now to straighten things out.  Infuriating?  Absolutely.  Criminal?  No.  What is criminal, is refusing to pay for something that you used.  I'm not saying Saporta should pay all of the bills in full, I am saying that he pays the bill for his new place.  If you will note, he moved into his new home at the beginning of October, 28 days BEFORE Sandy - heck, he moved his service on September 26th, over a month before Sandy - on what grounds does he think that he shouldn't pay that bill?

He could probably spend a few minutes with the bills and a calculator and figure out about what he owes on the other two places, or look at past bills and pro-rate the amounts based on the dates prior to the storm and how long the power was out and/or unused.

It is quite simple, really, to pay the bills you owe, to dispute the ones you don't, and save yourself a certain loss in court, when the judge reads your published-in-the-newspaper ultimatum spelling out that you didn't pay your bona fide bills in protest of the ones you didn't owe.

I am sorry that you suffered a loss due to the storm, but that doesn't give you a free pass on the cost of life.

November 24, 2012

Gifting ideas

Two of my friends mentioned alternative gifting ideas in the comments the other day, something that has been on my mind for months.

As a kid, we spent every Christmas Eve at my maternal grandparent's house.  After Thanksgiving dinner, someone would start writing down each person's name on a strip of paper, and the names went into an adult drawing collective and the kids' bowl.  Everybody drew a name to buy a Christmas gift for.  Since my mom is the youngest of eight (and I am the lone only child), this made perfect sense with 30+ first cousins.  Everyone got a present from one other person, and Grandma and Granddad bought all the kids something similar.  Our parents brought our stockings which were filled in a late evening visit from Santa as we kids were upstairs practicing our program of Christmas carols.  When we heard sleigh bells and a hearty, "Ho, ho, ho", that was our cue to descend and sing our songs, all the while straining to see what was in our stockings across the room.

I have sat through White Elephant exchanges, Chinese exchanges, and variations of each involving 'good' gifts, gag gifts, gift cards, ornaments, etc.  Whited's family does some garage sale item exchange that sounds hilarious, I need more detail on that.  I once scored one of these at a Chinese exchange in Germany:

This summer/fall, I started pleading with my family to come up with some new gift exchange system.  Currently, everyone buys for everyone - among my parents, step-sister, niece and my family.  If anyone is visiting, as Uncle Mo is likely to do, everyone buys for them and vice versa.  I have long felt bad, and have guiltily adjusted my spending for others to reflect what they are spending to buy something for each person in my family of six.  I know it is the thought that counts, but, come on, my step sister is counting dollar signs.  Of course, she is the master of giving gift cards that never have a balance on them...

Back in August, seeing our budget for the coming year, we knew that something different needed to happen.  At the time we were traveling quite a bit, and I suggested a truck stop gift Christmas - there are some real gems there.  I have suggested that everyone bring a gift card to exchange.  I suggested that all the adults bring a bottle of something.  There is no real enthusiasm for any budget friendly ideas.  Everyone agrees that we should do something, but nothing has been done.

My opportunity might have passed, because I am sure the evil step-sister will nix any idea that means she gets anything less than she has before.  But, I am not going to bust my budget to please her.  Anybody have success stories for a reasonable Christmas gift exchange?

November 23, 2012

The Madness Begins

I have to admit to being woefully unprepared for this holiday season.  It didn't occur to me until Boom got home, how many things needed to happen TODAY, for her to be able to take part in our Christmas traditions.  She has to head back to school tomorrow, so the tree trimming is an absolute must happen - there is no waiting until she is home for the semester. 

Usually, each member of the family signs their own name to our Christmas cards, a trick I picked up from a friend several years ago, which has saved me a Carpal Tunnel relapse.  We could wait for that, I suppose.  Otherwise, I need to run out today in the Black Friday madness to find some cards.  I am sure Boom will appreciate coming home from finals week and being faced with a stack of cards to sign.

I can't think of a single store-bought item that would be worth camping out for on Thanksgiving.  I haven't waited in line for something overnight since high school - and camping out for concert tickets was more of an all-night party than a waiting game.

There are a few things that are on sale at impressive discounts, even a few that are on my shopping list.  If they still happen to be in stock when I make it to the big box discounter, I will save some dough, otherwise, I will have saved my sanity by shopping online and spending time with my family.

Mr H and I were all geared up for a serious family discussion of wish lists versus budgets, and planned to open the kid's eyes as to the costs of what they were asking for versus what is a reasonable holiday expense for our family.  The kids worked on their lists for several hours, they poured over the store circulars and clicked around Amazon checking release dates and other info.  I made them print out their lists and pencil in the prices next to each item.  We sat down for the Big Talk.

All four kids had amazingly reasonable lists, there was no lecturing required.  Of course, Crash was a little out there, but he writes down EVERYTHING.  It is my excuse for not rushing into the room each time he sees something on television - I tell him to put it on his Christmas list (until December 26th, when I tell him to put it on his birthday list).  When we asked the kids what they thought would be a reasonable budget, they had a good answer and had already made the correlation that whatever they said individually was multiplied times four for the parents.  Maybe Obama should spend some time with my kids.

November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy, restful, peaceful, filling, and victorious Thanksgiving.  If those seem like odd adjectives to describe the day, know that they reflect my life.  While I will enjoy the day with my immediate family, I do have a family member or two that will make the day less enjoyable. 

I wish everyone good health, as it seems like each day I hear of a friend or family member struggling with a medical issue.   

I have been working 12 - 14 hour days the past week and will do it again next week - so rest is welcomed, even as I am thankful that I have been given the gift of a new career in a field that is exploding with work. 

Peace, well, I have four kids that have been out of school for nearly a week now...

Filling- I have always been blessed with a family of good made-from-scratch cooks.  Now, I realize that some people may not know any different, and to them it tastes like the wonderful Thanksgiving feast that is synonymous with the day.  But, I experienced a bit of horror seeing how many people fill their shopping carts with canned gravy, boxed side dishes, chopped and formed meat, and frozen pies.  Whatever your family eats, I hope you enjoy it.

And, in an annual, twice per year house divided rivalry, the NFL placed the first Redskins defeating cowgirls game on this afternoon's schedule.  Victory shall be the best dessert.


November 21, 2012

Unions Suck

I am not the least bit surprised that Hostess (or the holding companies that own the name) decided to go out of business, rather than try to weather a union storm.  In all likelihood, another bakery conglomerate will buy the name and product recipes and Twinkies will line the shelves again - at least until Moochelle gets them outlawed. My money is on Bimbo Bakeries - the Mexican owned company that bought Texas' beloved Mrs. Baird's brand a few years back.  They will make the Twinkies and all will be right with the world, until they have a labor dispute...

Union-backed Wal-Mart employees have been protesting and threatening to strike on Black Friday.  I wish they would, so people would stay home instead of assault one another over a $10 Easy Bake oven.  Wal-Mart employees want more money, better schedules, and more affordable health care.  I guess they missed that Obamacare memo.

I have been knee deep in actions my company has to take as part of a settlement agreement over a union labor dispute.

The root of the labor suit was that a handful of union people used the first few minutes of their scheduled work day to con non-union employees into signing something that called for an organizational vote.  The guys thought they were signing up for future work notices, but the small print was about calling a union election.  When the non-union guys called the office to ask about it, and it was discovered that union employees were using work time for union business, one of my bosses shut down the job site for the day and docked everyone's pay accordingly.

But you can't do that to union employees.  They get a full day's pay.  They get per diem.  They get their money by a certain time each week, or you pay penalties.  If you lay them off or fire them, you have to pay all wages due before they leave the job that day.

The boss man probably would have settled down and paid everyone their full day's wages, if it weren't for the smarmy union guy that called to scold him.  When you call the union rep a mother f'er, your date in court is guaranteed.  Now I get to mail notices explaining that we were a bad, bad union suppressing company to every current and former employee.  The NLRB gets a copy of the notices (that they printed and sent to us, thanks taxpayers!). Notices have to be posted in prominent places to ensure the greatest amount of exposure.    I suggested the urinals. 

I wish Wal-Mart would stand firm - and I am not even a Wal-Mart fan, it is just the principle of the thing that bothers me.  I am sad to see an iconic brand like Hostess be sold off, but I am proud that they put the blame squarely on the union's shoulders.