August 31, 2013

The Information Age or regular stupidity?

I have long tried to put my finger on the reasons why we have become a nation of child-forgetters.

You don't have to look too hard to find stories of kids left in cars, left at stores, left in school buses. 

The Home Alone movie franchise story made it humorous, but in the original, little Kevin was left behind for several combined, and easy to relate to, reasons.  It was the Christmas season, their house was filled with extra family members, they were busy getting ready to depart for a vacation, Kevin wasn't where he normally would be, having been relegated to sleep in the attic, everyone overslept due to a power almost seems as if the movie's writers made the list of reasons intentionally long, so that the public could see past the horror of a little boy left on his own for days, and enjoy the humor of the movie.

What has happened to our society, our culture, that we can forget a child.  I can use all of the excuses I listed above, throw in long work hours, hectic school and social schedules, miscommunication - there are hundreds of things that distract us in our modern society.

But, hell, we also have hundreds of time and energy-daving devices that our ancestors didn't have.  We have mobile phones, GPS, and the constant stream of media to keep us informed.  Why in the heck can't we remember to get the last kid off the bus, or take the toddler out of the car seat?

Is it a statistical anomaly?  Part of me hopes that this phenomenon isn't about being self-absorbed and too busy for parenthood, but rather a normal, albeit terrifying, condition that we are simply more aware and informed of due to the saturation of the media in our lives.  Perhaps children have always been forgotten, but we simply didn't hear about it.

Usually at this part of the internal argument, the other side kicks in and reminds me that, surely, if kids had been dying in hot cars since cars were commonly owned, that we would have grown up knowing about the dangers and, it wouldn't be just now that car manufacturers are trying to develop devices that sense movement in cars that aren't running (no comment on what such a device will do to the tradition of teenagers 'parking'). 

I'm not judging anyone - I have had moments of forgetfulness regarding my children, fortunately none of them were dangerous - but I can see how they could have been.  I just can't wrap my head around the epidemic of these cases and understand why it seems to happen so frequently.

August 30, 2013

High Times

There are glaring control and variable issues, but then again, I don't believe that the people that made this video ever claimed that they were undertaking a scientific experiment.  Kind of surprised by the Lego results.

August 29, 2013

Meanwhile, in North Korea

The ex-girlfriend of North Korean leader Kim-Jong-un was one of a dozen people reportedly executed by a firing squad last week
The South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo reports that singer Hyon Song-wol and 11 others had been arrested on August 17 for violating North Korea's laws against pornography and was executed three days later. 
The 12 who were executed were singers, musicians or dancers with the Hyon's band,, the Unhasu Orchestra or the Wanghaesan Light Music Band and were accused of making videos of themselves performing sex acts and then selling the recordings. 
Additional details/rumors include the fact that the executed people's family members have been imprisoned, and that some of those executed were caught with Bibles and treated as political dissidents prior to their death by firing squad.
What is it that they say about a woman scorned?
Kim's wife, Ri Sol-ju, was also a member of the Unhasu Orchestra before marriage and one theory is that Ri objected to the continuing high profile of her husband's former girlfriend.
 Meanwhile, back in America,
President Obama on Wednesday advocated a “shot across the bow” for Syria in the interest of U.S. national security, despite growing concerns from congressional lawmakers over the possibility of an American military strike.
Yet no outrage or 'bow-shooting' over the maniacal, firing squad employing dictator who, along with his father, is responsible for starvation, death, indoctrination and imprisonment of millions of innocent people and is within striking distance of  ~40k US soldiers stationed in South Korea.

August 28, 2013

Traffic and weather, then the president

Will the office of the President of the United States ever recover from Obama?

It baffles and saddens me that this administration, and its Grand Poobah, jump at appearances on late night television, day time talk shows, and black 'urban adult contemporary' radio shows.  Is there no end to the diminishing of our highest office?

Jay Carney, and his predecessors in this White House, are noted for rarely calling on any reporter beyond the second row in the WH Briefing Room.  But Tom Joyner gets an interview:
President Obama thinks Martin Luther King Jr. would have supported Obamacare if he were still alive, he said in an interview that aired Tuesday.

“Oh, he would like that,” Obama said, after being asked for his thoughts on King's views on his signature health care law. “Well, because I think he understood that health care, health security is not a privilege; it’s something that in a country as wealthy as ours, everybody should have access to.” The president's comments came in an interview on “The Tom Joyner Show,”
Little about MLK or the ideals set forth in his most famous speech indicate that he would have been anything other than sickened by this most divisive and race-baiting president. 

Regardless, why in the hell is the president granting interviews to a morning drive-time radio show?

I wonder if they got him to do a prank call or give away some concert tickets.

August 27, 2013

I agree with Syria...

Syria on Tuesday said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was lying when he stated there was "undeniable" evidence of a large-scale chemical attack likely launched by Damascus, accusing him of disregarding the work of U.N. investigators.
I have probably mentioned it before - we have a saying around our office, used when rumors or innuendo get stirred up.  When a subject is raised, and accusations and blame are flying, someone will ask, "Did you see penetration?"  It is a coarse way to simplify, but it works - if you didn't see it with your own eyes, it didn't happen.

While I will concede that there are many things in life that I believe to be true, even though I didn't see them with my own eyes, I do try to form those beliefs around otherwise irrefutable evidence.  I am not currently aware of any irrefutable evidence that chemicals were used to attack anyone.  Sure, I have seen the pictures, but, well, I don't know that any of them come from trustworthy sources.  Don't misunderstand, I tend to think that there was a chemical attack, I just haven't seen any proof of it. 

And, even if the use of chemicals is confirmed, there is the pesky issue of whose chemicals they were and who used them against whom.  Stating a suspicion or belief is understandable, but to declare knowledge that one does not possess is foolish.   

Paraphrasing an old lawyer joke - 'Of course Kerry is lying, his lips are moving.'

August 26, 2013


I didn't see it firsthand, but have read stories this morning that seem to indicate that poor old Billy Ray Cyrus is likely singing that Achy Breaky Heart tune again.  Apparently young Miley Cyrus has joined the ranks of performers that think any sort of attention is good attention and, this morning, has been dubbed the Queen of Obscene.

And while the VMAs neither interest me, nor have any direct correlation to our government - it was the use of an 'audience cam' and the reactions to Cyrus' performance that landed this post under the heading of 'FOD', because this photo of the Smith family speaks a thousand words that describe how I feel about the imposter in the White House:

August 24, 2013

The smell of academia

I don't dwell much on the missed opportunities in my life.  My place in life is owed to the path I took to get here, and I have a wonderful family, a roof over our heads, food in our pantry, and the ability to provide things for our children that we didn't have growing up.

I do have to admit that each time I visit my daughter's college campus, I experience a bit of longing - I didn't do the full college experience, working instead, and taking a few classes here and there as life allowed.  When we are moving her in or out, or visiting for an event, I spend a few minutes, trying to soak in the atmosphere of the college campus - the sights, sounds, and smells, and think about how wonderful it would be to have little more responsibility in life than to go to a couple of classes a week.

I suppose this is the root of the saying that 'youth is wasted on the young'. 

As much as the mom in me wants my kids to excel at the academic side of things, I hope that they soak it all in and have no regrets about how they spent their college years.  I hope they do some crazy things, take some risks, make memories. 

Of course, the desire to see my daughter having fun may be drastically altered around mid-term grade time.  Remind me then, of what I said today.

August 23, 2013

Doctors, lawyers, and mechanics

There are many things in life that are generally unpleasant, and coincidentally expensive,  and that one does not want to do blindly.

Going to a doctor,  hiring a lawyer and finding an honest mechanic are among those things that beg for a good referral from a trusted friend.

It's that mechanic one that finds me far from home this morning.

Boom's car started acting up on the drive to college yesterday,  and I was faced with,  what I narrowed down to three choices; leave as planned and leave my daughter to figure it out on her own (perhaps a good life lesson but somewhat cruel), trade cars with her and take her car to our mechanic at home (three hours in the car with no a/c and a return trip back in the near future), or stay the night to take her car to the shop, and hope that the referrals pan out and the car can be repaired correctly and at a reasonable cost.

Funny how pulling into an unknown mechanic's garage makes you feel just as naked as you do when wearing the doctor's paper gown.

August 22, 2013

The sound of a political career imploding

 It might actually be a bit of a stretch to assume that someone's political aspirations will be harmed by a little slimy, heavy-handed, threatening influence.  But, Texas is a long way from some of the more torrid political stories, so I have some hope that the voters in my great state will see to it that our Lieutenant Governor is sent packing next year, if not sooner.

With today's technology, one should always assume that someone is watching, listening and recording - especially if you are anyone of importance, and especially if you are calling a governmental entity or law enforcement authority.

Meet Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, as he tries to strong arm the Allen, Texas police department into releasing a pseudo-relative that shoplifted from a Kroger grocery store:
"This is David Dewhurst, and I'm the lieutenant governor of the State of Texas," he tells the dispatcher, who forwarded the call to a police department sergeant.

"What do I need to do to arrange for getting her out of jail this evening?" Dewhurst asks the police officer.
The officer explains that the case is now in the hands of Collin County authorities and there's nothing he can do to expedite the woman's release.

"I am, every year, the number-one pick of all of the law enforcement agencies within Texas," Dewhurst tells the officer. "You don't know it, but I'm a supporter of you and a supporter of law enforcement."
Dewhurst repeatedly asks what he needs to do to get the woman out of jail, and is politely instructed by the Allen police officer to call the sheriff's office.

"This is ridiculous," Dewhurst says. "This lady, in my mind, is 100 percent innocent, and it's just an unfortunate situation of circumstances."

On several occasions, Dewhurst says the commander of the Texas Department of Public Safety will be calling to follow up on his inquiry.
 Listen for yourself, if you would like - this is unedited and they put him on hold for quite a bit, so skip forward to find the dialogue:

Last time I checked, the oath of office included a bit about swearing to uphold the laws of our state. What a tool.

August 21, 2013

Our anthem's missing word(s)

I was taken aback this past weekend, while at a Texas Rangers' baseball game, I noticed that they had the words to the national anthem displayed on the big screen.  It struck me as odd, since our anthem was something that all kids learned when I was young.  We sang it at school, we sang it at sporting events, we even sang it at home on occasion.  I suppose that putting the lyrics up is a good thing in one sense, but it is a disappointing reminder of how low of a priority any sort of patriotism has become to our society and educational system.

Even without MLB's reminder, I know that the last line to our anthem is:
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
This sprang to mind while reading this article, and wondering where illegal aliens get the idea that they have any right to demand things of America's taxpaying citizens.
For over a week now, undocumented immigrants, many on a hunger strike, have gathered outside a prestigious Chicago-area hospital to demand free organ transplants for themselves and others who entered the country illegally.
About 40 demonstrators joined the 14 hunger strikers gathered outside Northwestern Memorial Hospital to protest the facility’s stance on providing organ transplants to immigrants not possessing a green card, according to Fox-32 Chicago.
“We’re asking for help,” said Blanca Gomez, 23, who needs a kidney transplant. “I go to dialysis three times a week. I’m not going off the hunger strike until I get on the transplant list.”
None of the hunger strikers are U.S. citizens or even documented immigrants. All are from Mexico and require either a liver or kidney transplant that they can’t afford on their own, and they’re unable to obtain federal health care benefits such as Medicaid.
Another related article points out how much we generous Americans already contribute to the cause:
The U.S. government already spends upwards of $4 billion a year to provide the millions of illegal immigrant who live here with medical care, according to figures released by a nonpartisan organization dedicated to researching both legal and illegal immigration. Most of that money goes to hospital emergency rooms and free clinics that treat the uninsured.
This has created a huge burden for hospitals nationwide that get stuck with the exorbitant cost of treating uninsured illegal immigrants. A few years ago a Florida hospital spent more than a quarter of a million dollars to fight a lawsuit from an uninsured illegal immigrant returned to his native country after racking up a $1.5 million bill. The case involved a Guatemalan Mayan farm worker who was hospitalized for 3 ½ years at the Stuart facility with severe brain injuries sustained in a car wash.
After receiving a judge’s permission, the hospital put him on a plane back to Guatemala and a legal battle ensued. The same hospital also spent a substantial amount of money treating a brain damaged illegal immigrant from Mexico for two years and, in congressional testimony, the facility’s administrator said more than half of the hospital’s births were to illegal aliens.
They break our laws by entering our country illegally, then they rake in the dough with all of the spoils of American life that are available to them (healthcare, civil rights, welfare, WIC, food stamps, driver's licenses, in-state college tuition, etc), and then they have the ability to sue us, in our own courts, when we hold them responsible for their own debts.  Sheesh, can I renounce my citizenship, become a Mexican citizen, re-enter the U.S. illegally, and start to reap the same benefits?

If this is America, we need to add a few words to our anthem:
O'er the land of the free healthcare, education, and welfare funded by those living in the home of the brave Mexicans that demand we pay for their every need...

August 20, 2013

Quietly undermining Hillary?

The scapegoats have come in from their out-to-pasture exile:
Secretary of State John Kerry has determined that the four State Department officials placed on administrative leave by Hillary Clinton after the terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi do not deserve any formal disciplinary action and has asked them to come back to work at the State Department starting Tuesday.
There are plenty of rich discussions to be had over the timing, basis and perception of reinstating the only people that suffered any sort of repercussions (the families of those killed, notwithstanding) over the attack in Benghazi. 

Instead, let's look at this from a different perspective.  The article is knee-deep in glowing descriptions of how thorough Kerry has been in the process of making the decision to return these four people to work at State:
“As soon as he came into the department, Secretary Kerry wanted to invest the time to review the ARB's findings and match those against his own on-the-job findings about security,” the senior State Department official said. “He's been hands-on focused on building on the lessons learned from the Benghazi attack to strengthen security at missions world-wide and continue the ARB's security paradigm shift.”
Paradigm shift?  What is this, 1986?
After consideration, Kerry reaffirmed the ARB’s finding that no employee breached their duty or should be fired but rather that some should be reassigned, the official said. The four individuals are not blameless and the fact that they will not be returned to the same positions is relevant, the official said.

Kerry and his team also considered the long records of the four individuals and the circumstances leading up the Benghazi attack when considering what to do with the sidelined officials, the official said. None of the officials will be able to get their old jobs back and Boswell will not return as the head of diplomatic security.

“[Secretary Kerry] studied their careers and studied the facts,” the official said. “In order to implement the ARB and to continue to turn the page and shift the paradigm inside the Department, the four employees who were put on administrative leave last December pending further review, will be reassigned inside the State Department.”
Let's dig down to the underlying fact that they are repeating, without actually saying it; Hillary screwed the pooch.  Under her watch, four Americans were killed, there was a ridiculous chain of PR disasters that assumed the American people were idiots, and she sent four people packing with no evidence that their actions had anything to do with the attack in Benghazi.

Not exactly the sort of person you would want leading a country.

So, if Kerry were truly a party boy, as in Dimocratic Party, surely he would toe the party line and stand by his woman, especially if she is likely to be the boss down the road. 

Or, maybe Biden is the party's Golden Boy for 2016?

August 19, 2013


Golf Count:
YTD: 29
PTD: 140

Blowie is back in D.C., after a nine day vacation.  Did you miss him?

While I think he does less harm while golfing and biking - I am still struck by the blatant hypocrisy of the president and his family.

If I have kept track correctly, it took four aircraft trips to get the Obamas and their dog to the Vineyard.  The first dog, Bo, arrived first, hitching a ride on an Osprey with some of the advance party.  Michelle went next, followed later by Blowie, and then the first daughters arrived later in the week.

Not to mention the Secret Service and other WH staff filling up the 70+ rooms that taxpayers rented on the island.

The Obamas stayed in a mansion and ate at fancy restaurants:
President Obama proved Sunday night that even as he fights for “the middle class” he prefers to hang out with “the upper class,” indulging in an expensive repast at the overpriced “The Sweet Life Cafe” on Martha’s Vineyard.

Dinner can easily run above $200 for two, even if the Obamas stick to the Let’s Move diet plan and share dessert.
I get that people indulge on vacation - but they go on vacation all the damn time, and we pay for it.  To work off the heavy meals, the president played six rounds of golf in nine days.  They caused numerous businesses to suffer losses as streets were closed to traffic to accommodate their presence.  And what are the president's plans for the next two weeks?
Obama also hits the road again at the end of next week, this time on official business. He's scheduled a bus trip through upstate New York and Pennsylvania to talk about making a college education more affordable. Thursday's stops include the State University of New York at Buffalo and Henninger High School in Syracuse. On Friday, Obama planned to answer questions at a town hall-style event at SUNY-Binghamton before a stop at Lackawanna College in Scranton, Pa. He is to be joined there by Vice President Joe Biden, a native of the northeastern Pennsylvania city.

The stops are the latest on Obama's summertime tour to highlight his economic proposals for the middle class.
If there is one thing to be learned from the stunning example of Obama's actions versus his words, it is that he is exalted above us mere middle class peons, living the good life on our backs, fighting the evil opposing party for unalienable rights like health care and a college education (though I can't find those listed in the Constitution) while eating lobster and hitting the links.

President Me, not thee.

August 18, 2013

4th floor girl

My friend CenTexTim dropped his oldest off at college this weekend.  I will be making the same trip this coming week, as my kid returns to campus for her sophomore year.

I noticed in Tim's pictures, that he went armed with a cart - smart move, there.  And, since he is a recently retired professor, I would bet he has seen some move-in best practices.  I learned the hard way, but have a nice hand cart and two wheeler ready to load along with the dorm room items.  Two trips to the car, tops, this year.

Colleges have this housing thing figured out, as well they should, doing this every year since time immemorial.  Many universities, the one Tim's son and my daughter go to, included, place students on floors according to their tolerance and/or desire for a quiet, studious college experience (1st floor) on up to the animal house experience (4th floor).

Of course, some dorms are more known for their studying and 'learning communities', making their 4th floors more staid, while some dorms are famous for their five day weekends that begin with Wasted Wednesday and Thirsty Thursday as lead-ins to the weekend, and their third floors put other fourth floors to shame - if that is the proper way to describe college-age youth pissing away their parent's hard earned money.

If I had it all to do over again, I would probably opt for a fourth floor room - with responsible boundaries, of course.  Life is too short to not enjoy one's youth to the fullest.  Well, except for my kid that better be in her dorm room studying her butt off this semester.

August 17, 2013

Made you look

Whoever is in charge of choosing photos to accompany stories nailed it when they used a still from A Clockwork Orange:
What employee hasn’t watched a few YouTube (GOOG) videos during the half hour or so running time of the company’s required online training course? Alas, this may become a memory of simpler times. Online training technology company Mindflash on Tuesday announced a new feature called FocusAssist for iPad that uses the tablet’s camera to track a user’s eye movements. When it senses that you’ve been looking away for more than a few seconds (because you were sending e-mails, or just fell asleep), it pauses the course, forcing you to pay attention—or at least look like you are—in order to complete it.

My phone has similar technology, and let me tell you, it sucks.  Albeit for different reasons, but it still sucks.

My two oldest have completed their state-required driver's education classroom training via online courses.  It is an ass numbing mix of videos and pages of text that require you to stay on the page for a certain period of time, generally the amount of time that it would take a blind 5-year old to read it.  And, while most of the videos impart an important message or lesson, the crux of this program is that it is tied to the 'parent taught' driver's ed program, and, believe me, we have hammered home the dangers of drinking, texting, and being inattentive while driving.  Therefore, I do not begrudge them another (related) activity in the prolonged lulls during the course.

Since returning to the workforce last year, I have spent countless hours in webinars and 'go to meeting'-type orientations.  There doesn't seem to be a business product or service that doesn't have a required/strongly suggested web-based something that you have to do when using their wares.  I don't need to stare at someone's dull PowerPoint slide for the full 10 minutes that they drone on about it.  And software can't make me do it.

Back to the similar technology on my phone.  Did I mention it sucks?  Forget about changing the angle of the phone mid-video, it will pause, thinking you have looked away, when all you have done is try to diminish the glare.  Gruesome scene that makes you turn your head?  No worries, it will wait for you.  Tend to throw your head back when you laugh?  Annoying break in the dialogue and action while it waits for you to stop.

Remember when multi-tasking was considered a good thing?

August 16, 2013

What you get for $2.45

A lion that barks.
According to the state-run publication Beijing Youth Daily, a mother and son heard the unexpected sound coming from the alleged lion during a recent visit to the zoo.
The paper says the zoo has been replacing exotic species with substitutes, including placing two rodents in a snake’s cage, a white fox in a leopard’s den and a common dog in a wolf’s pen.
“The zoo is absolutely cheating us,” the visitor, Sharon Liu, told the paper. “They are trying to disguise the dogs as lions.”
It is amusing that a culture that places such emphasis on the idea of 'honor', would pass off a Tibetan mastiff as a lion.  Are the people living in the Chinese province of Henan so sheltered that there is some expectation that they have never seen an actual lion on television, the internet, or even in a book?  Wasn't The Lion King released in China?

Perhaps what is even more remarkable about this story is that we are hearing about it from a state-run newspaper.

I sympathize with the zoo visitors that were fooled by the 'lion', as well as the white fox/leopard and the dog/wolf.  It is truly astounding, to me, that no one was the wiser about the dog/lion until it barked.    

I suppose I shouldn't be too hard on these people, we have this masquerading as a president...

August 15, 2013

Stoner Swag

Everyone loves swag, me included.  Every January I look forward to the Fort Worth Stock Show where I troll the aisles of several exhibit halls, eyeing new cars, tractors, livestock apparatus, and western wear.  There are always samples to try and giveaway swag to fill a plastic tote bag.  My favorite is the Texas DPS booth.  They always give away bluebonnet seeds, along with various safe driving paraphernalia.  Which makes this seem all the more foreign to me:
A few things will be different at this year's Hempfest, the 22-year-old summer "protestival" on Seattle's waterfront where tens of thousands of revelers gather to use dope openly, listen to music and gaze at the Olympic Mountains in the distance.
The haze of pot smoke might smell a little more like victory, after Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize marijuana use by adults over 21. Having won at the state level, speakers will concentrate on the reform of federal marijuana laws.
Oh, and the Seattle police - who have long turned a lenient eye on Hempfest tokers - don't plan to be writing tickets or making arrests. They'll be busy handing out Doritos.
"I think it's going to be a lot of fun," said Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, department spokesman and junk-food-dispenser-in-chief. "It's meant to be ironic. The idea of police passing out Doritos at a festival that celebrates pot, we're sure, is going to generate some buzz."
I got news, Sgt Whitcomb - it sure ain't your Doritos generating a buzz.
The idea isn't just to satisfy some munchies. The department has affixed labels to 1,000 bags of Doritos urging people to check out a question-and-answer post on its website, titled "Marijwhatnow? A Guide to Legal Marijuana Use In Seattle." It explains some of the nuances of Washington's law: that adults can possess up to an ounce but can't sell it or give it away, that driving under the influence of pot is illegal, and that - festivals aside - public use is illegal.
The irony, it burns.  The police will be handing out stereotypical stoner munchie food with a link to the laws governing pot's legal use, at an event where they will be turning a blind eye to thousands of people openly violating said law.

85,000 people are expected for the event, and 200 deep-breathing police officers who aren't on the next week's random drug screen are scheduled for Doritos duty.*

*I made that last bit up.

August 14, 2013

Landscape Design

I have ten times the space this guy has...if only I had the landscape budget to go with it:

August 13, 2013

Life is more amusing than we thought

The post title an Andrew Lang quote on Forbes lead in page to an article on yet another Obamacare delay.  The dominoes toppling on that front are amusing, but not quite as funny to me as this story:
An animal welfare group intent on sending a message in support of veganism hid until closing time then poured red paint over the Iowa State Fair's butter cow...
...Iowans for Animal Liberation claimed responsibility for the attack in a news release emailed Sunday night...
...The words "Freedom for all" were scrawled on a display window.
"The paint represents the blood of 11 billion animals murdered each year in slaughterhouses, egg farms, and dairies," the group said in the statement. "We intend this action to serve as a wake up call to all who continue to consume meat, dairy, eggs, leather, and all animal products: You are directly supporting suffering and misery on the largest scale the world has ever known."
I can't help but giggle at the stupid.  Where do these whackadoodles come from?  Are they descendants of the peace, love, and children named Moonbeam generation? 
There are many things in life that I feel passionate about.  There are some that I would vehemently defend and uphold - unto myself.  I cannot imagine any situation that would lead me to impose my beliefs on another, especially in a ridiculous and destructive manner. 
This group claims to have painted butter, as a wake up call to all consumers of meat and meat by-products.  
I did a little Googling, and found many references to the animal products in paint.  On a vegan-friendly artist supply website, I found a mention that a certain paint manufacturer's spray glues were animal free - and clicked on over to their website to see if maybe their spray paint was animal free as well.  I never found any evidence of that, and instead, was awarded with another giggle-inducing irony.  Vegans must not read MSDS notices, or they would note that the products they tout as being animal-free employ animal testing to gauge potential side effects.
I would propose that, what these nutjobs contend is, 'the suffering an misery on the largest scale the world has ever known', is offset, in a traditional yin and yang fashion, by the great enjoyment of those who appreciate a good steak and a fine pair of boots.

August 12, 2013


Just after arriving at Martha's Vineyard for yet another family vacation, Blowie hit the links.  It was the 24th time of the year, the 135th of his presidency. 

Obama goes golfing an average of once every 12 days, by my rudimentary count.  The average being disturbing enough for a man with so many problems - a man that is supposed to be leading our country - but Blowie basically took a year off from golf during the campaign.  Not because he was so busy or dedicated, but because he is well aware of how it comes across.  That year off really lowered his average.  Just look at his pace on the year - averaging a round of golf every nine days.

Coasting through his second term, he will have no concerns for what us peons think of him, as is evidenced by allowing the press pool on the course in Massachusetts.    

With all the practice, you would think he was a better player...

August 11, 2013

Adults acting like children

I resisted the siren's call of social media until, kicking and screaming, I got pulled into the Facebook fray by Kerrcarto.  I had avoided social media up to that point.  He was planning my favorite weekend of the year (one that has been sorely missed this season), and issued the invitation through FB.  I had no choice but to enter the world of "Friends" and "Likes"

I have kept my FB activity and circle of 'friends' to a minimum.  While I enjoy the ability to keep up with friends and family that I might not see or talk to frequently, I still think of social media as mostly a younger person's game.  I have seen the constant stream of consciousness and banal status posts that my children's friends feel that they must share with the world. It is almost voyeuristic, to sit and read, what once would have been, information and emotions shared only with close friends.  Yet, there it is, for everyone to see. 

So kids will be kids, and I don't begrudge them the technological advances that frame their social beings.  I am driven to distraction by adults that have seized upon FB (and Twitter, and Instagram, and Snapchat., etc.) and use it as a required part of their lives - and demand that their FB friends do the same.

A friend at work, whom I love dearly, has a real problem with it.  If she posts a photo or something, every person she tags in it must immediately comment or 'like' it, or her feelings are hurt.  She issues dinner invitations, instructions to her family, medical updates and every recipe known to man - and expects that those in need of the information will be seeking it on FB.

If she sends a gift that is delivered; such as flowers or a mailed birthday present, she will eagerly watch FB, expecting a photo of the item and a note of thanks to be posted.  I have seen her go so far as to check her credit card to verify the charges for a flower order, call the shop and inquire about when they were delivered, and then fume because a new mother hadn't found time - from her hospital bed - to get on FB and acknowledge the gift.

On the flip side, I have seen her reaction when someone posted a photo of the flowers she sent, which were clearly not up to the standard of what she had ordered and paid for.  Hard for a florist to argue when you have photographic evidence on FB and threaten to post the 'what I ordered and what I got' status.

Let the kids do their thing with all the social media, but don't think you can change this grown-up's  opinion of what communication truly means.

August 10, 2013

A loss for words

I am old school - I have a paperback thesaurus on my desk that is frequently consulted.  As I age, I turn to it more and more to remind me of a word that escapes me, just as much as I search for a synonym.

My thesaurus isn't helping me this morning.  I have tried 'offensive', 'crude', 'crass', 'disturbing' and 'uncivilized', among others.  I can't seem to find the words, or phrases, to properly describe my reaction to this:

I am not writing this to argue for or against abortion, my views are just that, my own, and I don't think that being on either side of this issue has any bearing on how destructive this sort of thing is to a society - and by 'this sort of thing', I mean the handing out of coupons and advertising a discount for abortions.

You can pull whatever you want out of context and find even more offense - that the discount is only good on Sunday, a day of religious significance, is sure to inflame many.

And while this story is getting some traction this week, a quick Google search reveals that they have done this before, and got some news coverage for the same back in 2011.

Sadly, it seems that the Orlando abortion market is a competitive one, as another abortion clinic has been noted for their 'two-for-one' coupon that grants a free Pap smear with the purchase of abortion services.

I appreciate that our society has grown to accept that menstruating women need not be banished to the 'red tent', that pregnancy need not confine a woman to her home, and that women can control contraception with a variety of pharmaceutical methods.  But, regardless of my stance on any related issue, there are things that I think a civilized society just doesn't do.  And printing coupons for abortions is at the top of that list. 

August 9, 2013

An emigration prediction

I listen to Fox News Radio every day.  I hear an incessant commercial for some internet pharmacy peddling various erectile dysfunction drugs for, "three dollars a pill", which is considerably less than the regular pharmacy price in the United States.  The commercial reminds me of an old Seinfeld episode wherein the contraceptive sponge has been discontinued, and Elaine judges men based on whether or not she would be willing to dip into her stash of the sponges, knowing they can't be replaced.  She determines if they are "sponge-worthy".  I wonder how many men with an expensive ED drug prescription stop and think about whether a conquest is worth a three-to-ten dollar pill? 

Fear not, Argentina is going to hand out 200,000 free doses of Viagra, in an effort to 'curb its misuse'.  In what had to have been a male-crafted statement, the pharmaceutical firm manufacturing the pills calls Viagra "the most famous medication in the world for improving the quality of life".

I don't know if I want to live in a world that is so shallow and sexually based, that an ED drug is considered a quality of life improvement.  I would wager that I could find an impressive number of older women that don't see those drugs as the golden ticket that men do.  And, all this late-in-life sex has led to a massive increase in the STD rate among senior citizens.
Dr. Steven Rabin, a Burbank gynecologist, says “Eighty percent of people 50 years and older are sexually active still.”
And with all that sex, he says seniors are contracting STDs at an alarming rate.
“What’s dramatic in that in the age group 50 and above we are seeing a doubling and tripling of STDs such as chlamydia and syphilis and that’s startling.”
So why the outbreak? Doctors say there are several factors.
For one, medical advances have enabled men to have sex at an older age.
Paul Dell’Anno, 90, credits Viagra. “That has helped immensely,” he said
Argentina has long been in the top 10 for best foreign places to retire - adding 'Free Viagra' to their marketing is sure to open the floodgates.

August 8, 2013

Saving Rosie

This guy is getting a bad rap due to the story being somewhat ambiguous and leading with a provocative headline: 
Shipwrecked man Graham Anley saves dog Rosie before wife Sheryl off coast of South Africa
They got caught in a storm and had to evacuate.  Everyone, including Rosie the dog and Sheryl the wife, was wearing a life jacket.  The guy swam his dog an undetermined distance to shore before returning to help his wife, whose safety line had snagged in something.

The article never says if Sheryl was in imminent danger.  It doesn't mention her age or physical condition.  It just insinuates that Graham made a bad decision by guiding the dog to shore before his wife.

I can easily see how the wife, being an able-bodied person, might have said, "Hey, I'm stuck, get the dog to shore and then come help me."

Makes sense to take care of the animal that might not understand exactly what has happened and probably hasn't learned the command "swim to shore".

I hope I am right and Graham is still married and sleeping in his own bed tonight.  If not, I sure hope Rosie was worth it.

August 7, 2013

Call me crazy

Several months after our oldest Labrador died last year, but long before our other Lab got sick, we decided that we would like to get another dog.

A friend from work had plans to breed her Labs, and our desire for a puppy was noted.  The puppies were born June 13th, the same week we found out that our dog's cancer was back with a vengeance.

Though I otherwise wouldn't have felt that the timing was right, the puppy was planned for before we lost our dog, and it seemed to be important to the kids to not change the plan, despite having just buried a dog.

Over the past seven weeks we had visited with the pups, noting our preferences as they grew into their personalities.  And then, the combination of puppy dog eyes, and the begging of my children resulted in not one, but two bundles of fur joining our family this week. 

Yes, I have read all of the opinions about raising littermates together, and frankly, don't care.  So far, they have entertained one other splendidly, and took the separation from their parents quite well, simply curling up with one another as they have done since birth.  I was prepared for a night of howling that never came.  (Knock on wood).

In our Lonesome Dove naming tradition, we have christened the female 'Maggie', but have some internal disagreement about her brother's name.  If we don't work something out soon, the poor little fella will just be "Good Boy".

Maggie using her brother as a pillow

August 6, 2013

Juiced League

Since I think that governance and the commercialization of baseball is what killed the true spirit of what was once the Great American Pastime, I won't be surprised if someone creates a league for players that want to use performance enhancing drugs.

It seems to be the new American way.  Participation trophies so no one gets their feelings hurt.  No-cut team sports.  And, for all those 'professional' athletes that can't make the big leagues we have scads of semi-professional leagues and showcases.  Why not add a juiced league to the mix?

Many Cub Scout packs figured out long ago that dads are the worst offenders when it comes to cheating at the annual pinewood derby races.  So, many of them now have an 'outlaw' class, for the dads to build their own, no rules and no hold's barred, race.  I have actually seen a car in which there was a chamber for a M-80 to be inserted for rocket propulsion. 

We have become a society that accommodates cheaters.  And, if there is a buck to be made, someone will figure out how to do capitalize on it.

My hometown team has a player involved in this latest fiasco, and his decision not to appeal the punishment was based solely on how the timing would affect his bottom line, his marketability on the free agent market.  Not his love of the game.  Not his shame at cheating.  Just his future paychecks.

I could care less whether Alex Rodriguez ever sets foot on the diamond again.  A little piece of my baseball fan-heart died the first time I sat at a Texas Rangers game and they played the chorus to 'Ride Wit Me' when they introduced A-Rod:
If you wanna go and take a ride wit me
We three-wheelin in the fo' with the gold D's
Oh why do I live this way? (Hey, must be the money!)

If you wanna go and get high wit me
Smoke a L in the back of the Benz-y
Oh why must I feel this way? (Hey, must be the money!)
I am a sports fan, and I love baseball, but not this monopolistic, over-priced, over-commercialized, over-regulated business it has become.  Yeah, it must be the money.

August 5, 2013


As I mentioned in yesterday's post, US intelligence has indicated a serious threat to Americans, or American people, or American embassies, or something like that.  So much so that now American embassies across the Middle East and North Africa will remain closed until the end of the week. 

On the Sunday morning shows, politicians compared the 'chatter' to the sort that hadn't been heard since pre-9/11. 

And, our president handled this situation with his normal level of concern and leadership - he went golfing (23rd time this year, 134th while in office) and then took a dozen friends to Camp David for a birthday celebration.

As his top national security advisors gathered for an urgent Saturday meeting to discuss the terrorist threat that has forced the United States to close embassies overseas, President Obama was at Camp David celebrating his birthday with friends.
Sixteen senior officials participated in the unusual gathering, according to the White House. Among them were National Security Advisor Susan Rice, who chaired the session, Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, and Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco, and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.
Obama was briefed after the session by Rice and Monaco, according to the White House. The White House said Obama has “received frequent briefings over the last week” on the threat.
Obama, whose birthday is today, was already celebrating at least a day early, playing golf in the morning with 11 longtime buddies and then traveling with them to Camp David, where the party continued.
How many more FOD Mondays until someone else is in the White House?

August 4, 2013

At what cost, 'security'?

Across the world today, the United States has shuttered its embassies due to an intercepted al Queda message that indicated a major attack was planned.

There most certainly won't be an attack on an embassy today.

Not because they are closed, but because, purposefully or not, our nation and its media are shouting from the rooftops about the threat, and the steps we are taking to thwart it.

I am not sure how the 'intelligence community' and our government operates, if they are actually releasing accurate and timely information to the public, or if they are playing some bigger picture game of verbal chicken with potential attackers.

What I am sure of, is that another 9/11-style attack can't be anticipated.  Crazed terrorists cannot be profiled.  Their ideas can't be anticipated.  Pre-9/11, who would have thought that any group would go so far, and take so many intentional steps, to harm American people?

We don't think like 'they' do.  We struggle to explain the acts of serial killers, rapists, pedophiles, and now, terrorists.  People may claim to be experts, they may think that they have the ability to predict the actions of crazy people, but that is a pipe dream.  Logic can't overcome the illogical.  Sane people can recognize insanity, but not foretell its actions. 

When my family visited the 9/11 memorial site this week, we were subjected to airport-style security.  I suppose I can justify the possibility of a crazed person visiting the site of the terror attack and staging some other type of attack - but that doesn't seem to me, to be the high body count sort of thing that true jihadists seek. 

I won't list them, but the nefarious part of me can look around and think of dozens of ways that someone wishing to do harm could be successful.  There are gaping holes in our national security that would be easily exploited.  As Americans are herded barefoot through x-ray machines at the airports, and live in a country where the government has used these potential risks to justify constant monitoring of the citizenry, I can't shake the feeling that we are missing the mark.

I don't like our president, but one certainly has to acknowledge that it would be hard to function, much less sleep at night, if we all had the knowledge and information that he does, about all the ways terrorists are trying to harm us.  On the other hand, that information shouldn't serve as an excuse to violate our freedoms on a daily basis.

I would argue that the terrorists won, not in war, not in bombings, not when the planes crashed, not when our ambassador died - the terrorists won when our government changed our lives and converted our country to a police state, all in the name of security.

August 3, 2013

Please, thank you, and excuse me.

New Yorkers get a bad rap.  Native New Yorkers, that is.  They aren't rude.  They may be loud, passionate, brash, and/or assertive, and they may well be fed up with tourists and immigrants.  I know I am. If I had to survive in a city that is constantly overrun with people from somewhere else, people with little knowledge or care of how things are done, I would go postal in short order.

Granted, elbowing your way through sidewalk and subway crowds is just how it is done.  And, I frequently highlighted the fact that I wasn't 'from there' as I constantly mumbled 'sorry' and 'excuse me' when I was bumped, or doing the bumping.  But, there is a distinct difference between the people trying to live and work in NYC compared to the idiot sightseers and foreigners that are obstacles to how things should work.

Walking on the right side of the sidewalk?  What the hell for?  Need to stop moving for some reason?  Well, of course you should do it right in the middle of the sidewalk.  In more than one instance, I passed people who had stopped in the middle of the damn street to text.  Crosswalks are for crossing, stupid.

Native New Yorkers are helpful and kind, in my experience.  Everyone that was rude or doing something appalling in my presence was speaking another language, or heavily accented English.  I will also add in there a percentage of clueless American tourists that belong to the oft-sighted category of careless parents and entitlement-minded jerks.

When we were preparing to move to Germany as a military family, the Army required us to attend classes on German traditions and practices.  I had to go to driving class.  We learned what was considered polite and what was considered insulting.  Sure, we were going to live in a foreign country as representatives of our nation, under an agreement that our government had with theirs, so there was some expectation of decorum.  But, really, anytime I have traveled to another country, I have taken the time to learn how to dress, and move, and interact, without offending the natives. 

Maybe New Yorkers are rude to others - and, from where I sat, those people likely earned the treatment. How about some etiquette videos on flights to major tourist destinations?  Skip the movies as in-flight entertainment and introduce these people to some basic American consideration.  And hygiene.

August 2, 2013

Going home, slowly

Ahh, airports.  I am not sure how some of these people tied their shoes this morning,  much less made it through the trial of securing,  and arriving for, air travel.

I had my first perv machine experience today.  I didn't even see it coming, as I was juggling with the Ziploc of liquid toiletries,  boarding passes,  laptops, shoes,  belts,  and carry-ons.  I had everything in the prescribed plastic tub, shoved it on the conveyor belt, looked up for the signal to walk forward, and then realized that it was a body scanner,  not a metal detector.  I caught a glance of what appeared to be the only female agent around and am ashamed to admit that I, then, quite willingly chose to have my rights violated, rather than be felt up by her.

Home soon, and will catch up more, then.