June 30, 2013

NASCAR Vote


June 29, 2013

Pictures and words

This week there was a bit of a kerfluffle related to my daughter's university, Texas A&M. 

Some background on the two things involved...

First, incoming freshman have the opportunity to attend a camp-style orientation called "Fish Camp".  At Fish Camp, students are supposed to learn the school's traditions, words to school Yells (cheers for you non-A&M folks) and songs, history about the institution, and the etiquette associated with all of the aforementioned activities.  There are places on campus that you aren't supposed to set foot, where one does not wear a hat, where hushed tones are spoken out of respect, along with the loud and fun traditions that all college campuses have.  Kids go to Fish Camp just before moving in, and, if nothing else, meet a new friend or two that is just as lost as they are heading off to college.

Second, is Bonfire Memorial.  On November 18, 1999 at 2:42 am, 11 students and one former student were killed when the bonfire stack that was under construction on the A&M campus, collapsed.  Today, on that site, at the northeast corner of the campus, there is a beautiful memorial structure.  Steeped with symbolism and maintained in pristine condition, it is dedicated to the spirit of those that lost their lives on that very spot.

Last weekend, a group of student Fish Camp counselors gathered on campus and took some pictures.  This is something each group of camp counselors does during their training and bonding process.  Unfortunately, this group of students, that is being entrusted with teaching incoming students about A&M traditions, chose to take their photographs at the memorial site.  Check that.  They chose to stand (and lay) on and within the structures dedicated to specific individuals, making stupid and suggestive poses

Internet justice has been swift and harsh.  While I certainly have my opinion on this subject - it brings to mind bigger-picture issues.

My blood boiled when I visited Pearl Harbor and was elbowed out of the way by Japanese tourists taking photos of themselves with attack artifacts, cheesy grins and all.

And yet, I have a picture of two of my kids in a German tank bunker near Normandy - heads poking out, smiling.   I have a photo of my daughter at the gates of Auschwitz, standing under the words, "Arbeit Mach Frei".  She isn't smiling, and it wasn't an intentional pose - she was walking ahead as I stopped to take the photo and I called out to her to stop and turn around.  I think I wanted to memorialize that she had been there (she was five at the time), but I still don't feel quite right when I look at it.  The fact that I can still explain the exact circumstances sounds like a weak justification for something that I wish I hadn't done.

Certainly, some places are more sacred than others, whether it be for personal reasons or patriotic ones.  There are places that no one should desecrate with their actions, words, or photos.  There is a world of difference between a photo taken while visiting a site to pay respects versus letting your butt cheeks hang out of your daisy duke shorts as you pose on the symbolic headstone of someone's child. 

I am left thinking that if it takes a thousand words to explain, justify, or apologize for a picture, it shouldn't have been taken. 

June 27, 2013

Human Ingenuity

This week the International Space Station's orbit takes it right over our neck of the woods for a few minutes each night.

There we stood on Tuesday evening, staring up at the sky at the bright light of the ISS as it streaked across the sky.  I am sure the neighbors wondered what the heck we were doing.

My kids talked about Chris Hadfield, the recently returned from space and then retired Canadian astronaut that is famous for his YouTube videos from the station as he gave tours, answered kids' questions, did experiments and, perhaps most famously, performed music from space.

I am a little too young to remember the excitement of America's early space programs, but I do remember television time devoted to launches and landings.  I vividly remember the tragedies of the shuttle program.  My kids were excited to see the ISS for three minutes as it sparkled in the night sky - but I struggled to answer them when they asked who was on the station now, and what their purpose was.

I am sure there are plenty of research-based scientific things going on that may, one day, be important to our everyday lives.  It is sad that we don't really know what those things are.

I don't know what there is left to accomplish in space (and the idea of populating another planet holds no attraction for me), but I wish there were something about the space program that we could still celebrate together as a nation.


June 26, 2013

It has come to this

Last night in Austin, Texas, the state legislature was attempting to do their jobs.  I am not condoning or condemning the bill they were set to vote on, simply making an observation about the process.  Now, that is sort of a cop out, since abortion is a very touchy subject and one I certainly have an opinion on - but it really isn't germane to my point.

A filibuster was staged, and as you may imagine, the opposing party did all they could to break it.  In rules that I won't try to detail here, the legislature has a three strikes policy - they give you three warnings and then you are done.  In this case, the speaker went off topic twice and was assisted in putting on a back brace.

With the filibuster broken and a vote imminent, the 'citizens' that were present in the capitol began chanting and screaming.  Our local news correspondent was drowned out trying to give a live report.  The lieutenant governor was seen waving his hands and trying to gain control of the mob, so that the business of the state could be concluded.  Ultimately, the bill was passed by vote, but because of the noise and confusion in the chamber, it was determined that the vote actually occurred after the midnight deadline, so the bill was defeated.  Supporters referred to the screaming as a 'people's filibuster'.

How sad that our democratic process has been diminished to mob rule.  I don't agree with every decision made by those that govern my town, state and country, but I respect the process.  When the process is broken, I try to change it, not make a mockery of it.  It never occurred to me that if my elected officials are doing something that I don't agree with, I should just gather up a few hundred friends and scream at them until the clock runs out.
  
Congrats to Texas Democrats, you could teach toddlers a thing or two about throwing a tantrum.

June 25, 2013

In hindsight

Is there a name or phrase to describe unpleasant experiences that can be recalled after-the-fact with, not fondness, but perhaps, less revulsion?

I can almost laugh about it now, since we are through it...

About 10 days ago, our Labrador, Gus, had surgery to remove, what turned out to be, two tumors from his chest.  They were mast cell tumors, his second such occurrence in the past year.  Together, the two tumors had swollen, nearly overnight, into the size of a softball.     

Obviously, removing the tumors, and trying to get clear margins (about 3 cm is usually preferred) resulted in a large void.  To prevent fluid build up, the vet installed a drain at the bottom of the incision.

Gus spent one night at the vet clinic, and came home the next morning - 8 inch incision, stitches, drain, and cone of shame.  The vet had instructed us to clean any accumulation of drained fluids from his fur, and warned us that it might seem like a lot at times.

He didn't say that my kitchen floor would look like the scene of a mass murder.

Seriously, is there no way to hook up a collection bag to that drain?  I realize many dogs wouldn't leave it alone, but ours would - and it could have prevented a week of misery.

We just couldn't bring ourselves to confine Gus to a crate, considering the size of his surgical site and the fact that they had to take some muscle in the process - he wouldn't have been able to move in those tight quarters.  We made pallets that nearly covered the area of the kitchen that we confined him to.  He choose to lay on the cool tile.  Everywhere he plopped down would result in a smear of bloody fluid.  When he stood up, gravity and the drain kicked in and he would leave a Hansel & Gretel-like trail of bloody drops everywhere he walked.

When Gus lays down, he likes to curl his paws up under him.  This means that the fluid pooled in his paw, and we also had bloody footprints to deal with.

Depending on which 5 minutes you might have dropped in on us last week, we would either have the most disgusting tile floor imaginable, or the cleanest.  The entire family seemed eternally stooped over or on our knees, spritzing 409 on the floor, mopping, searching for drips.

I can almost laugh about it now...

June 24, 2013

FOD

Golf count: 18 rounds this year, 129 since taking office.

This "woman" is Karen Lewis, head of the Chicago Teacher's Union:



Last week, in a speech to the City Club of Chicago, she actually said this:
“When are we going to address the elephant in the room? When will there be an honest conversation about the poverty, racism and inequality that hinders the delivery of a quality education product in our school system?” Lewis asked the decidedly upscale audience.
“When will we address the fact that rich, white people, think they know what’s in the best interest of children of African Americans and Latinos—no matter what the parent’s income or education level,” she said.
Well, looks like the elephant in the room was speaking, Ms Lewis.  Here is a news flash for you, and your mayor, and your president.  White people don't give a rat's ass about what you think.  We don't spend our days imposing our views upon others.  We don't generally concern ourselves with what is in the best interest of children other than our own.

This mentality directly reflects that of the current administration.  Something wrong with our country?  Blame Bush.  Rich, white guy.  Born privileged.  Provided with an excellent education.  Well, hell, then everything must be his fault.

Lewis lives in one of the deadliest towns for gang and gun violence, that has been run by DEMOCRATS for decades, but problems in the education system are to be blamed on those who actually pay taxes into the school system.

Shut your piehole, you cow.

June 23, 2013

Sneaky spammers

The next repairman that slaps a sticker on one of my home's appliances is going to get a foot up the ass.

The most egregious offenders are those from the all-in-one mechanical type places that employ HVAC techs, plumbers, electricians, etc.  One guy comes out on a call for the A/C, and suddenly there is a "call us" sticker on the water heater next to the A/C unit. 

Guess who I won't be calling for any sort of service in the future?

June 22, 2013

Over the top

The Food Network decided not to renew Paul Deen's contract because sometime in her life she used a racial slur.  Something that is heard about every 2.7 seconds in current rap music.

I haven't read the entire transcript from the deposition that got her into this hot water, but by all accounts, it appears that what she fessed up to was using racial slurs sometime in her life.  And laughing at what some people might consider to be inappropriate racial jokes.  Here is one of the key bits:
Q. Have you ever used the N-word yourself?
A. Yes, of course. ... But that's just not a word that we use as time has gone on. Things have changed since the '60s in the South.

Hell, I am much younger than that, born in the midwest, but still have to stop myself from saying the wrong phrase when my kids do 'Eenie, meenie, miney, mo...", because it wasn't tigers we caught when saying that rhyme.  A rhyme, incidentally, that was routinely employed among the kids in my childhood neighborhood, that included my best friend, Marlon.  He was black, but didn't find it offensive - because it was just a word, a common word at the time, a synonym for "black person", and held no deeper meaning.  Tone, inflection, context - they certainly change meaning, and just as Paula indicated, when the black community decided that they were offended by white people using the word, it fell out of common usage.

I have no pre-formed opinion of Paula Deen, I don't spend much time watching TV cooks.  I do not have any particular love or hate of the Food Network.  I do think that this decision is ridiculous.  They seek to punish someone but have, instead, reinforced a double standard through their actions.  Hold every person of color to the same standard for their speech, actions, comedy routines, scripts, songs, and Twitter rants, and most of them would be unemployed.

June 21, 2013

Carney Carnival of Non-Answers

Yahoo has this fun little interactive bit up, which allows you to review the 13 different phrases (and variations) that Jay Carney uses most often to avoid answering a question during press conferences.  You can scroll and click through the phrases and the results window will show you how he has used the phrase in press conferences.

Most transparent administration in history...


Just stay gone

Blowie's back.  Whoever is in charge of the Organizing for Action Facebook page posted a picture of the anointed one, jacket tossed over his shoulder, walking across the lawn of the White House.  The caption was "Home sweet home."   Within an hour, Senator Ted Cruz (or whoever is in charge of his Twitter account) posted this little bit of greatness:


Ha!

Worry not, he is back on the road in a matter of days, fouling up Africa on our dime:
...when Barack Obama sets foot in Africa on June 26th he will do better still. Warships accompany the first African-American commander-in-chief, equipped with state-of-the-art hospitals should he fall ill, fighter jets patrol the skies non-stop, and three lorries carry bulletproof glass for hotels where he beds down. But official reluctance to employ snipers against cheetahs and lions has led to the cancellation of a presidential safari.
Can you imagine the snooty administration wonk that got to negotiate with the African government, demanding snipers to protect Blowie from lions?  I am sure someone took great pleasure in announcing the cancellation of the safari, ticked off because some other mid-level tool on the African side decided that enough was enough and said 'no go' to cheetah-killing snipers.

When you've lost Africans and Chris Matthews, you might as well pack it in.

June 20, 2013

Katydid Cacophony

Dear katydid population in my yard; STFU.

I don't know the entomological explanation for the deafening roar in my yard each night, but I am about sick of it.

This may be the third or fourth summer of our discontent, but the past two, and the current one, especially, are notable.

Light sleepers need not bother visiting.

Each night as it gets dark, the noise begins.  This is not the winding up cry of a cicada.  This is not the chirping of a cricket.  This is a roar.  For hours and hours each night.  I was talking on the telephone last night and opened the back door to let the dogs in, the person on the other end of the line thought someone was mowing my yard in the dark.  It is loud.

I have learned that my oak trees are the attraction.  Much more of this and you may find me outside with a chainsaw at 2 am.

June 19, 2013

Twilight Zone

I came into work a little early today, as I would like to leave early and do a couple of things with my kids before it is dinner and bed time.  It seems as if the entire month of June will pass me by, nearly a month into their summer vacation, and I will have only seen them for fleeting hours.

So I came to work, was sifting through various stacks of paperwork, answering emails, filing documents.  I turned my chair to reach for something and there sat my wedding ring, on a sheet of scratch paper.

I have no memory of taking it off.  I didn't wash my hands, or apply lotion.  I hadn't been doing anything that might require taking it off.  I don't remember any discomfort that would cause me to remove it.

When I reached for it, it was cold - so it sat there for a few minutes at least.

Growing older doesn't generally bother me.  I don't have any vanity about wrinkles or graying hair.  I recognize and accept that I don't have the same reflexes, flexibility, or hangover recovery time as I did twenty years ago.  But, losing my mind terrifies me.   And every time I lose something, or find something I forgot I lost, I wonder if one day I will wake up and it will all be gone.  Will I be blissfully unaware of the impairment, or trapped in a world that I know isn't right?

I would rather have some external force to blame for what is clearly my doing.  At least there would be an explanation.

June 18, 2013

Paying for pride

Why isn't 'trying to find the body of a long dead criminal' on the sequester no funding list?  It doesn't take a financial wizard to see the dollar signs associated with this story:
Federal agents searching for the body of former Teamsters chief Jimmy Hoffa believe they are about to crack one of America’s biggest unsolved mysteries.
CBS News has confirmed a suspicious concrete slab was retrieved by investigators from the Oakland Township field where they have been digging for any sign of Hoffa. It’s too soon, however, to know whether the slab is anything more than part of an old foundation for a barn.
The dig — the latest in what’s been nearly a 40-year search — is reportedly the result of extensive FBI interviews with former mobster Tony Zerilli.
Help me understand why this 'mystery' needs to be solved?  If he ain't dead, he is 100-year's old.  Our very own government declared him dead over 30 years ago.  Organized crime isn't the highly secret, covertly powerful force it once was - hell, we have reality shows about mafia families.

Why in the heck is it so important to find Hoffa's body?

This isn't a private venture, federal agents (= your tax dollars) are the ones doing the digging.  You and I are paying for the extensive interviews and backhoes.

Someone please tell me how this is in the public's interest?  Who authorized this expenditure?  How many normal Americans are on the missing person's list that aren't getting the benefit of a federal investigation?

Our government has got to be broken of their drunken sailor-type spending of other people's money.  It permeates everything they do.  Digging up a dead guy, just for the sake of saying you finally found him, should be left to a private entity, not the American taxpayers. 

June 17, 2013

FOD

Before jetting off to Ireland for a trip that serves as a prelude to his later-in-the-month Africa trip that will cost the taxpayers a bazillion dollars and untold amounts of humiliation, Blowie took the time to squeeze in a round of golf.

That makes 17 rounds this year, 128 since he became Grand Poobah.

While the leader of our nation jets around the world, the governor of my state visits the coasts and records commercials meant to entice businesses to move to Texas.  It seems to be working.  I am not particularly looking forward to an influx of left-coasties, but will offer up this handy translation guide for those moving to our great state:


June 16, 2013

Dad's Day

Happy Father's Day to all of you that claim the title.

My father is in heaven, but has been there long enough that today isn't sad, or even bittersweet - I loved the man, I am grateful for the time I had with him, and I remember him fondly, more than miss him painfully, on days like today.

I know some pretty wonderful dads - and I hope that each of you is getting pampered or treated to your favorite things today.

June 15, 2013

Pick your Syria idiom

This week Blowie officially recognized that Syria really, really, really did use chemical weapons, so his magical red line has been crossed.  Now American military troops will be put in harm's way to aide a rebel force that might have had a snowball's chance in hell months ago.

In typical leading from behind and gutsy call = no game plan style, Blowie made a big announcement about how the U.S. will now assist the losing rebel force, after 90k people have been slaughtered, and with no discernible end game.  Who will lead Syria if the rebels miraculously prevail?  My vote is on Blowie or John McCain.

Though I have already used a couple, I will leave the rest up to you.  Pick your favorite idiom/cliche/euphemism to describe Blowie's action on Syria.  More than one will apply:
Wag the dog
A day late and a dollar short
Dead squirrel
Red herring
Waterloo
Moving the goalposts
Beat a dead horse
Two wrongs don't make a right
Slippery slope
If by whiskey
Kettle logic
Bite off more than you can chew
Throwing good money after bad
Hanlon's Razor
Occam's Razor
Chewbacca defense
A fool and his our money is are easily parted
Drastic times call for drastic measures
Hell in a handbasket
Pig in a poke
Screw the pooch
The bigger they are the harder they fall
Charley Foxtrot
Snafu
Fubar
That's all I can think of...

June 14, 2013

#41s89th

You might have seen the stories about people around our nation celebrating George H.W. Bush's 89th birthday by wearing colorful socks.  Common folk and name-brand fold took to Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets to show off their colorful socks and wish the former president a Happy Birthday this past Wednesday.

Some folks you might recognize:


 Some you might not (Roger Williams TX-25):
 

The "RNC Team"




 And 41 himself kicked it off with a FB photo with his new great-granddaughter:



And for some background:


June 13, 2013

Celebrating bad decisions

Each week when I drive Bang to his Boy Scout meeting, we pass by the grounds of what used to be an unwed mother's home.  The 'business' sold and moved on about 10 year's ago, but in its heyday was the sort of place where young women (and children) could come to live during their pregnancy, and they were provided with food, shelter, an education, recreation, and, of course, options for self-sufficiency or adoption upon the birth of their child.  It is quite the place, with a large home, some smaller living quarters scattered about, a pool, a school building and a large gymnasium, on probably 30 acres, surrounded by ranch land - well out of the casual passerby-eye.  Today it is used as a camp facility.

I am certainly not saying that we should take pregnant teens and hide them away, but I am left wondering, how we went from a society that tried to quietly and discreetly handle accidental pregnancy in a way that likely improved a young woman's life, to a society that makes teen mothers reality television stars.

It seems as if it is almost a rite of passage in some areas, to be a baby momma or be a baby daddy. 

I wouldn't impose my morals on others, but, sheesh, is it too much to ask for some of these families to be a little bit restrained?  I am not suggesting that we return to the days of sending a girl away for nine months with a fanciful story about school abroad or something, but I also have little appreciation for those that demand we accept - and celebrate - their teenager's inability to use birth control. 

I coined a new word, moronironic, a mash-up of moronic and ironic, to describe this group of people that, as a societal demographic, vote for those who fight long and hard to give them the tools to abort and prevent (the morning after), but tend to also be the ones that have the most out of wedlock children.

June 12, 2013

A lifetime of love

It has been a little over one year since we buried our beautiful yellow Labrador, Woody.  There are still many days when I slip and call our other Lab by his name, but, mostly, we have gotten to the point that warm memories outweigh the sadness.

In the ensuing year, we have had not one, but TWO near death experiences with the dachshund gifted to us by my friend Whited.  I can say with great certainty that Whited's gift has likely resulted in quite the college fund for our veterinarian's children.  First there was the emergency abdominal surgery and week of hospitalization due to the sausage dog's affinity for ingesting carpet fibers.  More recently, the brown hound got himself snakebit - non-venomous but calamitous and expensive to treat, nonetheless.  I have recently learned that on the occasions that Roscoe has been hospitalized, he is often found being cradled and carried around by the good doctor.  While it is fantastic that our vet adores our dog and gives him extra attention, I hope all those 'leave him here over the weekend' hospitalizations weren't just so the doc would have fond company while he was on call!

Also in the past year, Gus, the Lab, had a cancerous mast cell tumor removed from just above his ear.  Believe me, there aren't many visits to the vet clinic that don't involve a call to the bank to temporarily raise my daily debit card limit so I can pay the dog bill.

The other night, Gus began exhibiting signs of an ear infection, so a visit to the doggie doc was in order.  As they gave him the once-over, the doc noticed another mass that concerned him.  They aspirated it and have sent it off to pathology.  I am trying to be optimistic, but my heart is breaking a little at the possibilities.

People often mention the unconditional love of pets, and it is, most definitely, one of the reasons that we love them back so fiercely.  But, tonight, I am consumed with the thought that losing a pet hurts so deeply because we love them their whole lives.  We know when we get them that it is likely that we will also bury them one day.  As humans, we often face our own mortality, but we know that part of us lives on in our children and our accomplishments. 

Perhaps it is a maternal thing, but I am awed by the privilege of caring for these lovely beasts and of seeing them through every stage of their lives.  It is both a burden and a blessing, loving an animal.  I think we are better for it.

June 11, 2013

What country is this?

I am slammed this week, kids headed off to different directions, big projects dropped in my lap at work with a due date of yesterday, and now a gimpy dog to care for.

When I have had a spare moment to read the headlines, I am repeatedly taken aback that the main reaction of our government, in response to being outed on their surveillance programs, is that they are out for blood and preparing charges to file against the whistleblower.

They are defiant, dismissive, and intolerant of the rights of American citizens.

Surely this can't be the America our forefathers envisioned.

June 10, 2013

FOD

Golfing again...16th round of the year, 127th of his presidency.

Moochelle ticked off the Chinese by standing up First Lady Madame Peng Liyuan during a leadership summit between our Dear Leader and President Xi Jinping.

Somewhat ironically, the man responsible for telling Americans the truth about what information our government is monitoring, is holed up in a Hong Kong hotel, hoping that the Chinese won't deport him (or something worse).

Blowie might be playing it cool with the American people, but I can just see the tantrum he threw when they had to trash that agenda item about Chinese hacking.  Hard to be such a blatant hypocrite when the info grab story is so fresh.

I am still at a loss for words to explain how I feel about the recent revelations that our government is monitoring everything we do.  Part of me is wondering if there is an avenue for the litigation-happy people of America to file class action lawsuits against all of the internet providers whose EULAs and privacy statements have been rendered a heaping pile of poo.  When Microsoft promises, in writing, for those of us anal enough to print out some of those things, that they do NOT collect personal information and that they do NOT distribute personal information, but then it is revealed that they give up everything to the Feds...surely there is some recourse in there.  Has Mr. Gates made a statement?  I just don't buy the theory that secret intercept methods have been employed.  There are too many people responsible for too many things, for the government to be able to glean all that data without a considerable number of people being in the know, both on the government side and on the corporate side.

Seems like all this administration does, is try to explain away the ugly situations they keep trying to sweep under the rug.







June 8, 2013

Fish Choreography

The Princess has a dance recital today.  Now, I call her The Princess on this blog, which might cause you to envision a sweet little feminine flower who loves all things pink, sparkly, and floral.  She used to be that sort of princess, but no more.  We recently painted over the pink walls in her room, switching to purple.  She ditched the Disney princess quilt for a black, white, teal and purple cheetah-patterned duvet cover.  She now has framed artwork instead of puppy and Bieber posters on the walls.  Today, her pseudonym fits only because of her attitude and order of birth.

Back to the dance recital.  The Princess is not a ballerina, she takes a hip hop class.  Fortunately, the studio is keen to be family-friendly, so there are no overtly suggestive moves, despite the urban nature of this type of dance.  The studio's recital encompasses all of their classes; lyrical, jazz, tap, ballet and hip hop.  Thankfully, they decided to divide their full catalog into two shows, instead of one monster with 36 acts.

Unfortunately, each show required a FOUR HOUR dress rehearsal.  Last night, I sat through two run-throughs of the show we will see today.  This, after dressing my 10-year-old up like a hooch.  I understand that makeup is beneficial to stage lighting, but it is disconcerting to see my baby girl with bright red lipstick and Cleopatra eyeliner.  Remembering the strict prohibition on underwear is also a distraction, as a steady succession of Daddy's-little-princesses take the stage, with leotards and dance shorts riding up to their nether regions as they writhe around on the Marley floor.  A couple of those girls had better be making costume adjustments today or the crowd is going to get more than they bargained for.

As with so many other child-related activities, I am left wondering if the majority of those kids are on the stage because they want to be, and how many of them are being (artificially) led to believe that they have some talent at what they are doing.

But, the most disturbing part of the 18 acts that I watched being rehearsed, was the consistent use of Fish Choreography (FC).  This is a term of my invention.  FC has migrated over from cheerleading and pageantry, and taken over the dance world.  I am sure there is some other name for it, but FC describes what I see, animated face with open mouth, animated face with pucker, occasional smirk, repeat.  Looks just like a fish out of water, gasping for air.

My last great hope for comedic relief, as I wait for The Princess to perform in the lucky 13 spot, is that Jack the toddler will be returning for the performance.  Jack came to rehearsal last night.  Everyone learned his name by the third act, as his dad was constantly chasing and calling out after him.  Jack finally settled in and paid attention to the dancing on stage by the end of the rehearsal.  A budding Foley artist, I believe, as he added perfectly timed sound effects to the ballet routine, making a fart noise each time the girls bent over or landed a jump.

Give that kid a microphone today and it will be a recital no one will ever forget.

June 7, 2013

Obamaphone Entrapment?

If the government gives you a phone and then uses information gleaned from monitoring that phone to indict you for a crime, is it entrapment?

PRISM

Someone please tell me that this 'tops secret slide show' is not real, and was some internal April Fool's joke.

This is beyond the pale



Since I now see that Blowie and company have been getting a direct feed from Google, maybe I should be signing out of Blogger.

June 6, 2013

D-Day

It breaks my heart to read that 600 WWII veterans die each day.  It shouldn't be surprising, I can do math, and realize that after 69 years, the ranks of the survivors is dwindling. 

I think the number gives me pause because it not only signifies a great loss of lives, it is a startling reminder of how many people served during that great war. 

I have a treasured memory of standing at Pointe du Hoc, one I like to share repeatedly when I am visiting my daughter at college.  At Texas A&M, the name James Earl Rudder is highly revered - the man that led the 2nd Ranger Battalion as they stormed Pointe du Hoc on D-Day is an Aggie.  He graduated from A&M and then returned as the school's president for several years. 

I would have liked to be in Normandy today.  Though the number of survivors of the invasion are dwindling, there are still a good number of current military members that splash through the surf, rally on the beach, and pay tribute to those that came before them. 

I have a jar of seashells that I gathered on the beaches of France, to remind me, and my family of that greatest generation and their service.  The survivors may be few, but their sacrifice is immeasurable.

A cold wind blowing in Hell

Hell hasn't frozen over, but it is cooling off...Al Gore said something I agree with.
"In the digital era, privacy must be a priority. Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous?" he said in a post on Twitter.
This, in response to the report in The Guardian that Verizon has been turning over phone records to the NSA, per a court order for surveillance.

Like many of you, I have been listening for weeks as the news wonks talk about how many ways the DOJ has erred, in the way they obtained search warrants for various journalists' phone and email records.  Countless attorneys and judges have taken the microphone and talked about specificity, and the importance of a narrow path for those seeking to capture a citizen's personal communications.

Gore's 'obscenely outrageous' description will have to do, because I can't think of any better way to describe our government's overreach.  Like that Tea Party lady said in the IRS-related hearing, our government has forgotten its place.

Verizon provides my television, internet and landline service.  Yes, I still have a landline - it is cheap but necessary for various reasons.  My cell service is with another carrier.  The home phone doesn't ring that often, but scrolling through the call log, I can see that the government will have to wade through telemarketing calls and robocalls from politicians.  Hey, maybe that is what they are looking for...Governor Huckabee, stop calling me, the Feds are gonna pin me as a conservative and audit my tax returns.

June 5, 2013

Another Lunatic Running the Asylum - and Comic Relief

Breaking news this morning that Tom Donilon is resigning as National Security Adviser, and none other than Miss 'Benghazi was caused by a YouTube video' Rice is taking over.

I suppose we can hope that the AP has it wrong.  We could surmise that the administration planted this rumor to track down one of those leaks they claim to have, since their email and phone snooping has been found out.

Or, we could accept that the Obama administration knows what a wonderful lapdog they have in Susan Rice, and they decided to reward her with a promotion.

To alleviate the sting of the face-palm, here is some comic relief.  I tried to craft a funny, yet somewhat appropriate post about the comments Michael Douglas made regarding how he contracted throat cancer.  HPV is a valid cause the type of oral cancer he had, and I don't want to diminish that fact.  But, he is a celebrity, and he made an invalid comment that the cause was also the cure - unsubstantiated, but nice of him to give us all the go-ahead.  As is to be expected from professional comedy writers, the late night hosts did better than I ever could:
Conan O'Brien:
"In a new interview, Michael Douglas says his throat cancer was caused by performing oral sex on too many women. The interview appears in the Journal of Overcompensating for Having Just Played Liberace."
Jay Leno:
"In an interview with The Guardian, Michael Douglas said he got throat cancer from oral sex. He says he's been cancer free for two years. Obviously, he's not going down without a fight, it's safe to say.
"Michael said he's trying to remember the name of the woman who gave it to him. It's right on the tip of his tongue ...
"You know what this means. Remember that scene with Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct? He was staring cancer in the face. That's what that means. ...
"So, oral sex can cause cancer. I don't know if that's covered under Obamacare? But you can be damn sure it would have been covered under Clinton care!"
And Jimmy Fallon started right off with it:
"So Michael Douglas had an interesting weekend. He was doing some interviews ... and apparently he claimed he got his throat cancer from years of giving women oral sex. Or as Catherine Zeta-Jones put it, 'How 'bout we just say smoking!' "

June 4, 2013

Gesundheit!

Despite calling Germany 'home' for a few years, I never really learned the language.  Sure, I can order food, ask for directions, figure out the gist of signs, and have a conversation with a German toddler, but little else.  Most Germans my age and younger speak wonderful English and don't mind doing it. 

I just read that Germany's longest word, which was actually the description of a law, has ceased to exist due to the law being repealed.  As with most of the multi-syllable words of their language, this was a string of words put together:

Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz

Did you get all that?  It means/meant, "law for the delegation of monitoring beef labeling".

The English language is complex and confusing, but we can't hold a candle to German when it comes to length of words.  We might have our wimpy little compound words, but the Germans really know how to turn a sentence into a word.

Remember the hours spent learning to spell 'Mississippi' as a kid?  Makes me feel kind of stoopid to see what German kids might be spitting out.

I used to be proud of my ability to pronounce an ingredient found in many shampoos 'methylchloroisothiazolinone', which seems to be many chemical prefixes and suffixes strung together.  Then I found out it is probably what causes an allergic reaction when I change shampoos, and it wasn't so fun to say anymore.

There is that word from Mary Poppins that I am not going to go look up how to spell - you know the one.  But, that isn't really a word, either, so I don't think anyone should get any points just because they have learned a nonsensical word from a Disney movie and song.

Probably the longest word that I can say at the drop of the hat, is one that isn't even English. It is the Hawaiian name of a reef triggerfish, 'humuhumunukunukuapua'a'. 

Say that five times, fast.

June 3, 2013

FOD

Golf count: 125 counting this weekend's round.

Nearly 48 MILLION Americans are now receiving food stamps.  That's about 15% of our population. 

Problem is, I can't seem to identify those people, based on generic and stereotypical assumptions on what they should look like.  When I think of people reduced to needing public assistance, I picture this:

From Walker Evans


But when I am behind someone using their EBT card at the grocery store, they generally look like this (and yes, I tried way too hard to find a picture that wouldn't elicit cries of racism):


Incidentally, that fat ass is generally sporting several hundred dollars of tattoos, nicotine stained fingers, and a pricey, yet tacky, manicure.

If the visual evidence wasn't enough, try to reconcile 48 million on handouts while our nation also supports a $40 million per year diet industry.

When Boom and I went to pick up a Papa Murphy's (take and bake) pizza this weekend, and were slapped in the face by the "EBT Cards Welcomed Here" sign, it was Boom that pointed out the irony of the Food Stamp President, whose programs allow public dollars to be used to purchase junk food and restaurant-quality take out, being married to the First Lady of Heavy-handed Diet Demands.

June 2, 2013

Over the top

Of my four children, the youngest, Crash, is the best athlete.  I don't say that to diminish anything the others have done, or would like to do, but it has been undeniably apparent, since the first time he threw a ball, that Crash has a heaping measure of natural athletic ability.  In addition to his natural ability, Crash loves all things sport-related.  And he has a fierce competitive streak.

While we love sports, and our children, we aren't fixated on grooming them for some future opportunity.  We have tried to expose the kids to a wide range of activities and let them choose what it is they enjoy.  It is clear that Crash loves anything with a ball.  He likes hockey, but all it took was one afternoon at the ice rink for him to decide that he wouldn't ever excel at that sport.

For the past several weeks, Crash has played flag football.  One afternoon per week his team learned skills and ran drills, and on Saturday mornings they played games.  Every Saturday for the past six weeks, as we sat in the bleachers cheering (and trying to remind Crash that this was not tackle football), there was a peripheral activity that caught our attention on the neighboring field.

Two young boys, I am guessing about 12 and 14-years-old, running drills with a private quarterback coach.  They can't be from our school, as we don't compete at a level that would ever attract the sort of notice that they are being groomed for.

A sixth grader and an eight grader, with their dads, a coach, and his support staff of two additional people that run routes, catching and returning the footballs.  It doesn't take an expert to see that the younger boy is better.  His movement is more natural and he has better reflexes.  But, from our vantage point, there is no indication if either of the boys are there because that is what they want to be doing with their Saturday morning.

My husband, who himself was a high school quarterback, has expressed dismay over the number of balls these kids are throwing.  They go through every imaginable drill - slants, footwork, throwing from knees, etc.  They throw for the 90 minutes that we are there, and are still at it when we leave.  Can that be good for a growing kid's arm and shoulder?

Is this what it takes for a kid to make it to high school sports?  Not to mention collegiate and professional?  There is already a dearth of diversity at the quarterback position, and one could surmise that it comes from this sort of early-intervention-high-dollar-private coaching. 

I detest the lack of 'sport' at professional levels.  How many of those millionaires play for the love of the game?  I hate to think of children's sports being transformed into a test of whose daddy has the most money, and missing out on the life lessons that can be learned from honest competition.

June 1, 2013

RIP Jean Stapleton

Not the kind of list a president should have...

From Keith Koffler's White House Dossier, Obama's Top Twenty scandals...

1. IRS targets Obama’s enemies: The IRS targeted conservative and pro-Israel groups prior to the 2012 election. Questions are being raised about why this occurred, who ordered it, whether there was any White House involvement and whether there was an initial effort to hide who knew about the targeting and when.
2. Benghazi: This is actually three scandals in one:
  • The failure of administration to protect the Benghazi mission.
  • The changes made to the talking points in order to suggest the attack was motivated by an anti-Muslim video
  • The refusal of the White House to say what President Obama did the night of the attack
3. Watching the AP: The Justice Department performed a massive cull of Associated Press reporters’ phone records as part of a leak investigation.
4. Rosengate: The Justice Department suggested that Fox News reporter James Rosen is a criminal for reporting about classified information and subsequently monitored his phones and emails.
5. Potential Holder perjury I: Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress he had never been associated with “potential prosecution” of a journalist for perjury when in fact he signed the affidavit that termed Rosen a potential criminal.
6. The ATF “Fast and Furious” scheme: Allowed weapons from the U.S. to “walk” across the border into the hands of Mexican drug dealers. The ATF lost track of hundreds of firearms, many of which were used in crimes, including the December 2010 killing of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
7. Potential Holder Perjury II: Holder told Congress in May 2011 that he had just recently heard about the Fast and Furious gun walking scheme when there is evidence he may have known much earlier.
8. Sebelius demands payment: HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius solicited donations from companies HHS might regulate. The money would be used to help her sign up uninsured Americans for ObamaCare.
9. The Pigford scandal: An Agriculture Department effort that started as an attempt to compensate black farmers who had been discriminated against by the agency but evolved into a gravy train delivering several billion dollars in cash to thousands of additional minority and female farmers who probably didn’t face discrimination.
10. GSA gone wild: The General Services Administration in 2010 held an $823,000 training conference in Las Vegas, featuring a clown and a mind readers. Resulted in the resignation of the GSA administrator.
11. Veterans Affairs in Disney World: The agency wasted more than $6 million on two conferences in Orlando. An assistant secretary was fired.
12. Sebelius violates the Hatch Act: A U.S. special counsel determined that Sebelius violated the Hatch Act when she made “extemporaneous partisan remarks” during a speech in her official capacity last year. During the remarks, Sebelius called for the election of the Democratic candidate for governor of North Carolina.
13. Solyndra: Republicans charged the Obama administration funded and promoted its poster boy for green energy despite warning signs the company was headed for bankruptcy. The administration also allegedly pressed Solyndra to delay layoff announcements until after the 2010 midterm elections.
14. AKA Lisa Jackson: Former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson used the name “Richard Windsor” when corresponding by email with other government officials, drawing charges she was trying to evade scrutiny.
15. The New Black Panthers: The Justice Department was accused of using a racial double standard in failing to pursue a voter intimidation case against Black Panthers who appeared to be menacing voters at a polling place in 2008 in Philadelphia.
16. Waging war all by myself: Obama may have violated the Constitution and both the letter and the spirit of the War Powers Resolution by attacking Libya without Congressional approval.
17. Biden bullies the press: Vice President Biden’s office has repeatedly interfered with coverage, including forcing a reporter to wait in a closet, making a reporter delete photos, and editing pool reports.
18. AKPD not A-OK: The administration paid millions to the former firm of then-White House adviser David Axelrod, AKPD Message and Media, to promote passage of Obamacare. Some questioned whether the firm was hired to help pay Axelrod $2 million AKPD owed him.
19. Sestak, we’ll take care of you: Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel used Bill Clinton as an intermediary to probe whether former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) would accept a prominent, unpaid White House advisory position in exchange for dropping out of the 2010 primary against former Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.).
20. I’ll pass my own laws: Obama has repeatedly been accused of making end runs around Congress by deciding which laws to enforce, including the decision not to deport illegal immigrants who may have been allowed to stay in the United States had Congress passed the “Dream Act.”