October 6, 2015

Too much sadness

Sometime in the next three hours I have to make a decision, one I have, fortunately, never had to contemplate before.  I have to choose between two funerals.  Same day, same time, two different cities.

It sucks.

I should find solace in the fact that my life is richly blessed with people that I care about, and whose funerals I want to attend, to say goodbye or support their families - rather than the alternative.  I am struggling mightily with what to do, and have even considered attending neither, but, ultimately, I think sitting both out would be selfish.  But, enough about my dilemma.  Let's talk about Allen.

Several years ago, I took a crazy leap and drove five hours to a ranch in Bandera, Texas, to meet with a group of strangers that I only knew of from this magical thing we call the internet.  I had never stepped out like that before, and, for all I knew there would be sacrificial offerings under the full moon, or orgies, or mass murder.  None of those things happened - that I know of.  I do recall pulling into the ranch and seeing a truck plastered with political bumper stickers and flying a "Don't Tread On Me" flag - years before said flag was 'cool', and thinking that I probably wasn't 'out' enough with my political views to keep up with this group.  That was Allen's truck, and he was one of the first to welcome me into the greatest group of strangers I have had the privilege of knowing.

Allen came to Bandera twice, missing out on other gatherings as his involvement in hometown and Libertarian politics increased.  He lived not too far from me, and our paths crossed several times in the ensuing years.  We kept more in touch through social media and email.  After reading a mutual blog-friend's book, I passed it on to Allen.  In return, he gifted me with a Dachshund.  I still haven't decided who got the better deal.

I first met some of Allen's family this past May, at an event he referred to as his 'pre-funeral', held weeks after his glioblastoma diagnosis.  It was heartwarming and heartbreaking.  I am glad I had that chance to hug his neck, tell him he was loved, and make a memory that I will forever cherish.

If you didn't know Allen, or read his blog, you missed out.  And, while it might seem tiresome to sift through the (now outdated) political posts, you won't regret reading these stories and getting a glimpse of the humor and warmth that defined this man that has been taken from us too soon:

The Caramel Pie Story

The Tragic Story of Albert's Fingers

What to do with 250 copies of the Book of Mormon

Rest in Peace, Allen.

September 11, 2015

Remembering


August 5, 2015

No time

Poor, neglected blog.

I just got no time, as the song goes.
Work.  Family. Priorities, ya know?
My company will either be out of business in two months or see 1000% growth.  It is kinda stressful, very frustrating, and not at all what I would have expected this year to bring.
At the end of this month, I will be the mother of a senior in college, a senior in high school, and seventh and third graders.  Senior years are full to begin with, and while many people think of them as endings, they are really beginnings of another phase - Bang is applying to colleges, Boom is planning more college after she receives her bachelor's degree.  My hope is that they end up in the same place, so they can support one another and give my checkbook a break in the room and board department.
The Princess was recently diagnosed with scoliosis, a condition, I have learned, that often becomes most obvious during the growth spurts associated with puberty.  We use humor in our family, and the S curve that is her spine is by all accounts moderate, so her pediatrician was understandably caught off guard when I called her Quasimodo, a nickname she now loves.  We are just beginning this journey, with many consultations and opinions.  Though I had an immediate vision of Joan Cusack's Sixteen Candles character trying to drink from a can in her Milwaukee Brace, The Princess probably isn't going to have to go down that road.  


As a combination birthday and Father's Day present, the kids and I surprised Mr H with his mid-life crisis dream, a Harley, earlier this summer.  Every time he goes out for a ride, he comes back and thanks us, clearly in love with the bike, the experience, the feel of the wind in his (helmeted) hair.  I hate it.  I listen for sirens, check the local scanner social media updates for accidents.  It hasn't helped my stress level, but, hey, he's happy.
We are getting ready to embark on a family vacation, necessarily delayed due to Boom's summer class schedule.  She took her last final yesterday, and should be arriving home just in time for us to leave.  Nothing like nine days of family bonding to convince a girl to get her ass in gear and become self-supporting so she doesn't have to move back home after college!
I have missed FODs and had no place to pound out my rants about current events and politics.  Wish I had a sexy story to explain it, but it is just life getting in the way.

July 20, 2015

FOD

I have missed a few FODs recently.  My life is so crazy busy right now that I rarely find time to sit down and write anything here, which is unfortunate, but a necessary exercise in prioritizing family and work above selfish pursuits.  Don't you wish our president would do the same?

Instead of showing up at a memorial service for those killed in Chattanooga, the president went golfing with three House democrats.  This after flying to New York to attend a fundraiser and take in a Broadway show.  This past weekend's schedule eerily similar to how the president conducted himself after the Benghazi attack - when he went to Las Vegas for a fundraiser and golf.

The president has lowered flags for pop stars, eulogized and sang at a black pastor's funeral, and has fanned the flames of racial unrest at every turn.  Yet when our military and diplomatic forces are attacked, he goes golfing.  He didn't demand that American hostages be returned as part of the Iranian nuclear arms deal, he went to a Broadway show.

Next month, we will be regaled with every movement and meal the president takes as he vacations on Martha's Vineyard, another imperial slap in the face to those that face their own mortality each day, defending the freedoms that this president takes great sport in trampling.

July 4, 2015

Happy Independence Day

Last year I said I would repost until our government understood the meaning.  The situation is even more dire today that it was a year ago.  God Bless you and your families today.  Let's hope for better years to come.


July 2, 2015

I just can't

Keep up, that is.

Why is it that convenience products and improved efficiency hasn't resulted in more downtime?  It just seems to have paved the way for busier lives.  I am envious of my friends that have retired, or found a leisure-oriented balance to their lives.  I know that my time will, hopefully, come, but it sure is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel right now.

Last weekend we traveled to Kansas for a family reunion.  It seems silly to me to call it a reunion, as growing up the same group of people gathered for Christmas Eve each year, and then saw one another frequently at other holidays and summer gatherings.  Alas, since the death of my grandparents, there hasn't been a catalyst for routine gatherings these past twenty or so years.  My first cousins once removed (I had to look that up - my cousins' kids) are now getting married and having children of their own, and a gathering of the family was past due.

There were over 80 that gathered.  My mom being the youngest of eight, and, other than those that have just started their families, I was the sole only child, mom's brothers and sisters all having largish families, and their children following in their footsteps.  It was easier to count who was absent, and they were sorely missed, as, at my age (and theirs), there are those that I likely will never see again.

We had a blast, to say the least.  A large group started the morning with a golf scramble.  Mostly the men and some of the kids hit the links while the women folk got things set up.  We had tons of food - my husband has been such a good dieter, following his doctor's low carb plan for months, but when he decided to go off the wagon for the weekend, he went all in.  I think that is how potluck dinners should be, you have to try a little bit of everything, desserts included.

After lunch, a grand family tradition ensued - a softball game in my aunt's front yard.  Her house is along a state highway, but the front yard has always been the spot for the game.  First and second bases are uphill!  Some of the younger adult males managed to jack a shot or two over the highway (a ground rule double, by our rules - mostly to discourage that risky shot.  Though hitting a car is an automatic grand slam).  This was my husband's first time playing, and despite my warnings, he was not prepared for how competitive some of my cousins were.

As the softball game ended, one of my cousins cracked open a cooler that was filled with iced-down water balloons.  The kids had a riot soaking everyone with the cold water.

Some watched baseball on TV, some played volleyball and a new-to-me game, Polish horseshoes, some went fishing at the pond, kids played in the yard, and a group of us went down to a pasture to shoot clays for a few hours.  Boom has been wanting to give skeet shooting a try, and I guess she should, as she proved to be an excellent shot.  Little Crash shot a 410, not hitting any clay, but coming close enough and having so much fun that he is now begging for a shotgun.

As the planned festivities wore down, many of us set off to our parent's hometown - a little tiny farming community that has had a 4th of July celebration for over 150 years.  It is held on the weekend before the holiday, so we were able to go watch their fireworks show, something my granddad had once been in charge of, and they have carried on the tradition.

It was a great day all around, and, not one to go quietly into the dark night, I instead did my part to lower the mule deer population on the way back to our lodging.  It doesn't seem quite fair, my car damaged (but driveable) and no back strap or rack to show for it.

June 22, 2015

FOD

Living in a democratic society is supposed to be about choices.  We choose representatives to be our voice in government.  We choose our religion, careers, number of children, hometowns, etc.

The growth of government has meant erosion of those freedoms, though most in power would claim that the rules in place that limit our choices are meant to protect us from harm.  Which, IMHO, detracts from our ability to choose.

I shouldn't feel like a criminal when I purchase tamales from the lovely woman who stops by our office once a month.  I am fully aware that she is preparing her food in a kitchen that is not inspected by the health department, that she has no permit or license to sell her wares.  That she likely has no food safety training or certifications.  But her tamales are delicious.  I am willing to make the choice to accept the risks of eating non-government regulated Mexican food.  I also acknowledge that my tamale lady isn't collecting or paying any sales or income taxes.  And I. Do. Not. Care.  Her immigration status is also suspect, but here she stands, working, making a living, and, as far as I can see, the only people who she might displacing in the work force, are those who perform all of the above regulatory tasks that I mentioned.  Boo hoo.

Last week, the new Agriculture Commissioner for the great state of Texas, Sid Miller, repealed the ban on deep-fryers and soda machines in Texas schools.  His comment being that Texas schools should teach children to make good decisions about their nutrition - he was re-instilling a choice to our schools.  

Unfortunately, the bigger government restricts calories, fat content, and controls the purse strings on lunch money for families who can't pay.  None of these things, coupled with the deep-fryer restriction and soda machine ban, have done anything to curb obesity.  Miller offered an interesting example of how government restrictions don't consider all the circumstances:
"You got a boy that goes to Anson High School — he plays in football, he plays both (offense and defense) — he can't make it on 870 calories. That boy burns 3,500 calories a day," Miller said. "He gets home, he hauls hay and milks cow and moves irrigation pipe. Then there's another child that's not active athletically. They may be into academics or band or some other extracurricular. Eight-hundred-seventy calories may be fine for that kid."
Miller says critics are missing the point that Texas is simply giving schools the option of reinstalling deep fryers if they want starting July 1.He conceded that his decision is mostly symbolic and that few schools might take advantage of the relaxed rules — since the state won't be the one buying new fryers for cash-strapped schools. Like practically all Texas Republicans last year, Miller partly ran on fighting what the GOP candidates call federal overreach.

But he believes fried foods are OK in moderation and says it would be nice to grab a carbonated drink from a vending machine during a basketball game.
Choices and moderation...not a new or foreign concept.

June 18, 2015

Which would Caitlyn use?

I work in a male dominated industry.  In a male dominated office.  There are two females, counting me, in our building.  Which kinda explains the chauvinistic, yet humorous, bathroom layout at our offices.  In our main foyer, there is a pair of restrooms:

Since you had a little bit of a build up, you might have noticed right off the bat that both are marked "Men".  Thing is, most people don't notice.  I can't tell you how many female visitors to our office use one of these restrooms.  I suppose it is a conditioned response; look up and see the sign that says "Men" and automatically enter the opposite door, without checking the sign.  We try, really we do, to stop people.  When we have hosted events at our office we have tried making announcements, putting up additional signage, etc.  Some people just don't pay attention.
For the record, we have a lovely women's restroom, back by the kitchen.  I know, I know, that is yet another little chauvinistic jab.  But, it is lovely, and not industrial-looking like the metal-stalled and brightly lit men's rooms.  And, in the interest of fairness, our ancillary building next door houses a mostly female workforce, where there are two women's rooms and one men's.  They don't have quite the same entertainment value, but it evens things out.

June 15, 2015

FOD

I'm surprised anyone is surprised by this Rachel Dolezal story.

The current president ran his first campaign on a consistent, and insistent, theme of his mixed-race heritage.  We were told every day of his campaign that he was half-white.  The minute he was elected, he magically became the first black president.  I don't know why it took so long for society to realize that this Dolezal-sort of thing was happening, as the president has already perpetrated a racial shift to serve his own purposes.  

I have to say, I am a little excited by what Rachel has perpetrated.  Even more so since, at first blush, the NAACP has stood behind her, at least her local chapter.  This is FANTASTIC!  Someone coined the term "transracial", and I am slapping that title on my kids effective immediately.

I might have paid full price for my oldest white kid to go to college, but you can bet your sweet ass that the next three are getting some of those minority scholarships.  Bang might be a hard sell - he has no rhythm or street cred.  Crash, well, he is a pretty gifted athlete, so maybe we can pad his college fund with some sport scholarships.  The Princess takes a hip-hop dance class and loves the music that goes with it, and she does a spot on Sweet Brown imitation...all she needs now is a bad perm and some spray tan.

June 10, 2015

Fire up the DeLorean

I want to go back in time, to a place where I don't have to explain things like this to my children:

From the Denton Record-Chronicle, "Yesterday's news, tomorrow."
I really, really, really don't care what people want to do in their lives and with their bodies as long as it doesn't harm anyone (other than themselves) and it doesn't intrude on any of my freedoms.  I do not appreciate the current attitude that I have to alter my beliefs and values and put people who make these sorts of choices on a pedestal.  I subscribe to the belief that we should love one another, and within that, I believe we are entitled to our own set of opinions, many of which we should quietly keep to ourselves.

What bothers me is this rather sudden shift in what the media thinks is acceptable, and how society is swallowing it.  We can't pretend that personal pronouns don't exist to distinguish gender.  A journalist is supposed to lay out facts, and write articles that make things clear, not ambiguous or unnecessarily intriguing because no one will address what every reader is wondering.  Why would the writer ignore the lipsticked elephant in the room and write an entire article about a MAN that ignores the fact that the picture provided begs for an explanation?  The writer uses neutral terms and the victim's last name in all but one sentence, and that near the end of the article. And why run the photo at all, knowing it is a red herring?  It is as if some switch was flipped with the Trans-Jenner story, and newspapers are rushing to show how fashion-forward they are in their treatment of what was once referred to as 'alternative lifestyles'.

June 9, 2015

Raising Victims

My friend Kerrcarto used to have a profile picture in which he had photo-shopped steam coming out of his ears.  I often think of that photo when I read crap like this:
Trinecia Blacklock needs wheels to get around but that's never kept a smile off her face, until last Tuesday.
"We were just extremely excited," said Tonisha McCowan, Trinecia's mother. "We were waiting to see her graduate everybody was there to yell, scream, but we got shut down completely."
At Blacklock's fifth grade graduation ceremony, administrators at Link Elementary forgot she was there.
"They closed up the ceremony and then forgot to call my name," said Blacklock.
While her classmates walked up to get their certificates, Blacklock didn't.
"How they missed her sitting there by herself down there in a wheelchair, I don't know," said McCowan.
Only after her parents alerted administrators did the principal call her name. She never got a chance to cross the stage like everyone else.
"I wish I would have gone across the stage, but they have no ramp, nothing but stairs," said Blacklock.
Now she has her certificate. Her family even bought her a cake and had her pose for photos but the memories tied to that day she can't forget.
"It was just all very humiliating," said McCowan. "Her joy from that day was stripped from right under her."
No, I am not mad that they accidentally skipped this child at her fifth grade graduation ceremony, I am incensed at parents, media, and a society that ignores the dozens of things they could have done to preempt little Trinecia's presumed humiliation.  Sure, the school screwed up, but, why in the hell didn't someone else try to head it off?
Last week I sat through an ass numbing award ceremony at my children's school.  The ceremony began with the awarding of various cords that the seniors had earned to wear with their graduation robes.  They announced what a cord was, and then read off the list of seniors that had earned the privilege of wearing it.  Halfway through the ceremony I observed a student quietly pulling aside a teacher, whispering back and forth for a few seconds, and after the next round of cord announcing was complete, they backtracked and announced an award they had apparently missed earlier. That is how utterly simple it is to make sure someone's feelings don't get hurt when their name is skipped.

Why didn't Trinecia's family, teachers, or friends speak up for her?  When the Blacklock family arrived in the school gym and saw the stage set up, did they not see that it might present some difficulty for their wheelchair-bound child?  Why didn't they advocate for their child and pro-actively seek out information that would have alerted someone to the fact that there was no way for a wheelchair to cross the stage?
And, let's assume that this ceremony was like Every Other School Award Ceremony In The World.  They likely called names alphabetically.  Blacklock would have been at the top of the list, and that would have left twenty-four more letter's worth of names, and time, for someone to walk up to an administrator and mention that they skipped over a kid.  Once they had called the kids sitting on either side of her, did no one watching stop and think that maybe they had forgotten her?
If they had indeed "closed up the ceremony" before someone alerted them to the omission, then every single person in that school gymnasium is to blame for not saying something on behalf of that child.  And, quite frankly, someone should teach that child to speak up for herself, or, as it may sometimes be difficult for her, she should also know to ask others to assist her.  Everyone I know that has a mobility issue knows to survey their surroundings and plan for whatever is coming.  Why didn't this girl ask a teacher what the plan was for getting her to the stage to accept her certificate?  
There are thousands of words that could be written about the ridiculousness of a fifth grade graduation ceremony, the artificial inflation of the importance of the day, and the cruelty of a family that is guaranteeing that this child won't ever forget what happened, because they made it a front page story.  None of those words will fix what happened in this situation - but they would highlight the fact that if we didn't make mountains out of molehills, we would all be better for it.  

June 8, 2015

FOD

Obama can't get the minimum wage hike that he wanted, so now he seems likely to try to pass a new overtime threshold that will cripple businesses and result in even more companies reducing employee hours to avoid paying time-and-one-half.

While I would agree that there are businesses, and specific industries that flagrantly abuse the designation of an exempt employee, there will be untold unintended consequences if this administration enacts a blanket adjustment to an overtime rule that has only been updated once since 1975.
One key concern about expanding overtime is that it could prompt employers to reduce the number of hours that individual employees work to avoid paying time-and-a-half. McDonald’s, reportedly, already uses its computer system to record the hours worked by individual fast-food workers, and sends alerts telling franchisees to send this or that worker home when he or she is about to exceed 40 hours. In many instances reducing employees’ hours worked may endanger their eligibility for benefits.
Obamacare was the impetus for the restaurant, and a number of other low-wage service industries, to develop new strategies that strictly limit their number of full-time employees.  Nearly doubling the current overtime threshold will certainly result in job loss, primarily those of middle income workers.
Aloysius Hogan, a senior fellow at the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, said it will have a “job killing effect.” Hogan said businesses will be incentivized to lay off higher-paid executives and replace them with lower-paid workers. The National Retail Federation, a likely leader in the battle against expanded overtime, last month issued a study that came to a similar conclusion. On its release NRF senior vice president for Governor Relations David French said the rule would “hollow out middle-management careers and middle-class opportunities for millions of workers.”
In typical Obama/liberal claptrap, the administration has said that this sort of job loss would simply result in more job creation, 'because somebody has to be hired to do the work', and for those companies, like McDonald's, that limit the number of hours worked:
Jared Bernstein, an economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden during President Barack Obama’s first term, added that for many workers reduced hours would be a plus: “Their salary is the same but they have more time with their families.”
Sweet Jesus, do these people really believe the things that come out of their mouths?

Fisked from here.

June 1, 2015

FOD

Golf count: 230

On average, the man that is often referred to as the leader of the free world has been on a golf course every 10 days.  

Sure, we know that the average was bolstered on those sunny Hawaiian vacations when Obama crammed in a round or more every day, and yet, despite the long, and recently apocalyptic winter months, and the election year respite when Obama rarely played at all, every 10 days is quite an impressive number.  Or depressing number.

I have tried to embrace the optimistic view that some of my friends have taken - that all of those vacations, holidays, and hours spent on the golf course are time that Obama isn't in the Oval screwing up our country.  But, common sense tells me that no matter how bad of a president he is, he should still appear to be doing his job.  He should want the American public to think that he works hard.  Presidential photo ops should be taking place at the White House, reviewing the military, or visiting foreign heads of state.  

Instead, our president is on the golf course.  Our Secretary of State fell off his bike and broke his femur - and while I wish him a speedy recovery, I could do without seeing another single photo of a 71-year old man in Spandex bike couture.  Nor do I need to see the president's wife doing squats in stretchy pants.  

Could these people at least pretend to care about our country, and attempt to look like professionals for the next ~20 months?

May 26, 2015

The Arrow of Time

I remember a spectacular fight I once had with my ex-husband, in which we were arguing about time.  While I don't remember the specifics, it must have been about helping out around the house and/or 'being there' as a parent.  Being married to the military is no cake walk, not that I would ever diminish the sacrifice that our soldiers make, but, it does take a toll on family life.  Anyway, the comment that he made that stuck with me was one that spoke to the fact that our mothers both worked when we were young, didn't have the convenience of modern appliances or husbands to help out, yet still managed to get everything done.

It pissed me off at the time, because I didn't have a snappy retort.  Today, I realize that there is a distinct difference.  Modern appliances and conveniences haven't made us more productive or efficient, they have instead paved the way toward filling every minute of our day with more stuff.  Twenty-some years ago, hot shot executives might have a car phone so they could make Very Important Decisions when they were away from their desk.  Today, 5-year old kids have iPhones with more communication capability than we had for the moon landings.  And, if I could go back in time and re-live that argument with my ex, I would point out that kids today have closets and drawers full of clothes that demand to be washed after a single wearing.  They have hours of homework that they need help with.  We have bigger homes, more things to care for.  I am not lazy in comparison to my mother, I am saddled with a million more things to do and think about than she had to deal with.
Things that were supposed to make our lives easier have made them all the more demanding.  Coupled with the overriding theme of 'whoever dies with the most toys wins', we have filled every moment, every nook and cranny, with stuff, and things, and things to do.  Life demands more of us now, and yet the outcomes haven't really changed all that much.  
I am fascinated with something I read about the theory of time: 
The arrow of time is based on ideas that go back to Ludwig Boltzmann, an Austrian physicist in the 1870s. He figured out this thing called entropy. Entropy is just a measure of how disorderly things are. And it tends to grow. That’s the second law of thermodynamics: Entropy goes up with time, things become more disorderly. So, if you neatly stack papers on your desk, and you walk away, you’re not surprised they turn into a mess. You’d be very surprised if a mess turned into neatly stacked papers. That’s entropy and the arrow of time. Entropy goes up as it becomes messier.
That seems to say that no matter what we do to supposedly make our lives easier, the passage of time dictates that they will just become messier and more hectic.

Nothing like a big middle finger from the universe to put things into perspective! 

May 15, 2015

A simple YES or NO

Over the years I have read a number of novels that detailed the bygone practices associated with the etiquette of social interaction.  Those were the days long before modern conveniences allowed our friends and family to intrude at all hours, and the social norms dictated when, and whom, could show up on your doorstep and expect to gain entry.  While I don't wish to reinvent an Austenesque era of calling cards and stiff protocols, I would like for the average American to display just a little common frickin' decency.

We don't do many formal social occasions in my family, and I don't host birthday parties for my kids every year.  This year, Crash asked to have a 'friends' birthday in addition to family, so we indulged him.  I could have kissed the three people that responded to the invitation in the first 24 hours, as I then spent the next two weeks wondering if there would only be four kids at a party I booked for a minimum of ten.  I made the mistake of not requesting responses by a certain date, and, until today, I thought that my error was the reason that so many people responded late.  And that was in addition to the ones that didn't respond at all, some of which showed up anyway.

Fast forward to this week.  Bang earned the rank of Eagle Scout and the ceremony that marks that occasion is planned for tomorrow.  We mailed formal invitations six weeks ago.  His troop posted it on their social media pages last month.  There have been announcements at each weekly Scout meeting for the past few weeks.  I thought I had corrected my error by putting a response deadline on the invite, a very necessary thing this go round, so the caterer could plan accordingly.  The deadline was last Sunday.  I waited until Tuesday morning to give the caterer the final number.  By Tuesday evening, twenty-one additional people said they were coming.  I hustled and added on to the catering order and upped the size of the cake I had ordered.  And, now, the day before the event, five more people have called just this morning to say they are coming.  The torrential rains have canceled every outdoor event, so folks are suddenly available.

I would love to have a 'the more the merrier' attitude, but when I may be whispering to my family to hold off on eating to make sure there is enough to accommodate all the late responders and surprise attendees, it is hard to be gracious.  On the flip side, half of the people that said they were going to come are just as likely to no-show without an explanation, and my family could be eating barbeque for the next week.

May 12, 2015

Weather Nerd

I spent the first fifteen years of my life mostly in Kansas, smack in the middle of Tornado Alley.  It is something you learn to live with, I suppose, and I wonder now, how we ever survived without constant news coverage of the threats.

Reflecting back, I would guess that we lost power much more frequently than today, during the storms that spawned tornadoes, making radio the media of choice - if we were so inclined to sit calmly by said radio and trust the voices coming out of it.  We were not.  My grandfather didn't always have the luxury of radio, and instilled in us the old-fashioned method of tornado warning systems, which is to stand outside and watch the sky.

I moved into my current home several years ago, in the month of March.  A few weeks later, as the Texas storm season heated up, I discovered the fatal flaw in our home purchase.  All those old-growth, towering oak trees that we thought we loved, block the view of the sky.  I have to cover an acre of front yard to get to the street where I get a narrow view of the western sky, where most of our tornadic activity originates.

Not cool.  I am not prone to panic, but if I can't see the sky when the clouds start to spin and drop out of the sky, how am I supposed to know when to take cover?

Just as I arrived home this past Sunday, the rotation started just above my neighborhood.  Fortunately for us, but not so much for others, the storm moved a couple of miles to the north before it dropped to the ground.  It was just a little EF-1, but the same line later produced a killer of a storm in Van, Texas.  Here it is moving through my neck of the woods:



My new toy for this storm season is a storm chasers app which shows a map-based view of where storm chasers are, and upon clicking on any active chaser, you get a streaming view of their dash cam video.  Many of them also have their audio feed running, so you can hear what they are thinking, and what they are seeing.  It has been great fun.  Except for when they are parked at a business a quarter-mile from your house.  Not fun to see your neighborhood on the dash cam of the tornado-intercept vehicle!

May 11, 2015

FOD

It's Monday, and FOD, so I always feel compelled to take the time to post something, even if it is just the letters, because they are meaningful.

What is the president doing these days?  Thankfully, and at the same time disturbingly, it doesn't seem like much.  Commencement speeches, making vacation plans, fundraisers, and shockingly little else.  We are heading into prime golfing season, so I expect the golf count to tick up at a steady clip.

I know it is wrong, but I am gleefully reading the news this morning that the president can't get any Middle Eastern leaders to come to his Middle East summit.  I don't care who you are, that's funny.  Barack and John Kerry will be able to have some alone time at Camp David.


May 8, 2015

Stand up and claim your prize

This week there has been a story in the news about the Price is Right game show's faux pas of offering a treadmill prize to a woman in a wheelchair.

As the show's spokesperson explained, and every person with half a brain knows, the prizes, games, and script scenarios have nothing to do with the contestants, which are ultimately picked for participation through various guessing games.

Why did this rise to the level of a news story?  I can't imagine that this was the first time, since it first aired in 1972, that the show gave away a prize that wasn't suited to the winner.  Women win prizes more suited to men and vice versa.  Older people win prizes more suited to younger, etcetera, etcetera.  You give the stuff away, you sell it, you let it collect dust in your living room as a conversation piece about the time you were on a game show. 

The lady in the wheelchair that won the treadmill was on Jimmy Kimmel, where he gave her a cruise.  Another in a long line of extravagant gifts that celebrities and shows give to people that the media has built up as being slighted, or deserving due to their station in life.

If a 5-year old says 'apparently' a dozen or so times on television, Ellen will scoop him up and make him a regular correspondent on her show, jetting the kid and family around to exotic destinations, showering them with gifts.  Yeah, because that is a great lesson in what hard work dumb luck can get you. 

I am all for helping our military, our youth and elderly, our poor, but this idea that every Joe that get their fifteen minutes of fame for some minor event in their lives should benefit with a windfall of gifts just feeds the entitlement mentality that is crippling our nation.  

May 4, 2015

FOD

Last night, a terror attack in a suburb of Dallas took center stage on the national news scene.  ISIS has now claimed responsibility for an attack that resulted in the terrorists being very much dead, having only grazed a Garland School District Security officer.  How proud the jihadists must be, knowing they wounded a rent-a-cop who was treated and released before the attacker's bodies were cold on the ground.

My friend Allen shared this tweet that cracked me up:

It does, however, raise a very valid point.  It seems that the terrorists were Phoenix-based.  Apparently, the internet "chatter" calling on ISIS brothers in Garland to attack didn't result in anyone local stepping up to the plate.  Or maybe there just aren't any here.  Regardless, anyone coming to Texas, or planning an attack in Texas should assume that a high percentage of the general public is going to be armed.  And, our SWAT teams and police officers aren't going to ration their ammo when you attack.
And, our local news outlets will repeatedly, and somewhat gleefully, explain that they are only showing a wide shot of the crime scene due to the two dead terrorist bodies in the street.  
Not that it is really necessary, but here is my FOD tie-in.  The initial indication is that one of the terrorists is Elton Simpson, an al Qaeda wannabe.
Simpson was well known to the FBI. Five years ago he was convicted for lying to federal agents about his plans to travel to Africa where investigators alleged he planned to join a terror group.
The investigation in Simpson reached back to July 2007, when Simpson was recorded said of fighting with Islamists, “I know we can do it, man. But you got to find the right people that… Gotta have connects.”
Despite that and other recordings, a judge ruled the government did not adequately prove he was going to join a terror group and Simpson was sentenced to three years’ probation for lying to investigators.
They haven't said why yet, but the bomb squad blew up the car, indicative of explosives being found, and the terrorists were apparently adequately armed, some report that they had assault rifles.

How does someone "well known to the FBI" for terrorist activity get their hands on that kind of stuff?  Because we have a sympathizer-in-chief that only cares about preserving the rights of the wrong kind of people.  Who had declared his own war on our Constitution and American values.  Who elevates celebrities to hero status and ignores true American heroes.  I can't wait until he is gone.

April 29, 2015

Screaming for ice cream



This meme is making its rounds on the internet:



Which, for my family, is only partly true.  While not made in Texas, Braum's offers a reasonable substitute to the current dearth of ice cream.  Our freezer usually has both, but is now Braum's exclusive - right up until Blue Bell is back on the shelves.

No, I am not afraid of contracting listeria.  Or salmonella.  Or botulism.  Or E.coli.  Or any other food-borne bacteria.

Nor do I bathe my shopping cart in handfuls of antiseptic wipes upon entry to the grocery store.

5-second rule for dropped food?  You bet.

My mom defrosted meat by letting it sit on the counter all day while she was at work.  Gasp!  I had perfect attendance for several years of elementary school, so it couldn't have been making me sick.

I grew up on Sunday dinners of freshly killed chicken.  As in, walk out to the chicken coop, wring a neck, and pluck that sucker.  No clean room.  No flash freezing for safety.  No three compartment sink or mandated sanitation process to clean up the utensils.

Raw milk, now a 'thing' amongst foodies and clean eating advocates, is simply an unpasteurized product.  Milk the cow, chill the output, pour it in a bottle.  Guess what?  Raw milk stays good for weeks, and it doesn't go 'bad' like the grocery store product, it naturally turns to buttermilk.

I don't have the patience, or the science knowledge to explain in technical terms what real life has proven to me.  I can understand that bacteria have evolved and gotten stronger, but I also believe that somewhere along the line, all of the purifying, sanitizing, and antibacterial bathing has, or is, creating a generation of humans that are overly sensitive to the world they live in.

Hurry up Blue Bell, I need some ice cream to deal with the stress of worrying about getting sick from eating ice cream.  And Braum's Cappuccino Chunky Chocolate is good, but it isn't Caramel Turtle Cheesecake.

April 25, 2015

My little liberal

As I type, my youngest is in his room, gnashing his teeth, wailing, and calling out, "Why will nobody help me?"

Lest you think I am cruel, I should explain right off the top that there are no privileges granted to the kiddos on Saturday mornings until their bedrooms are clean.  They don't have to wait until Saturday morning to do the cleaning, but that is a lesson they haven't yet grasped.  As a result, Crash bounds out of bed each Saturday morning, eager to bask in the glow of the Xbox or other electronic paraphernalia that he is not allowed to play during the school week, only to be stopped by the room cleaning law of the house.

Crash is 8-year's old now.  He is fully capable of doing every routine cleaning task required of him.  He simply can't forget the glory days of mom and dad helping him with the high dusting, or pushing the vacuum for him.  And, every Saturday morning, he claims that he 'needs' help.  Clearly the need versus want lecture hasn't permeated this area of his conscience.  His cries are annoying, but he is my fourth child, and, well, he suffers or benefits by being the last, and in this case, he could snivel for hours and not ruffle my feathers.  Unfortunately, his father often relents, as the crying grates on his nerves.  And, I can't seem to get the 'if you do it for him he will come to expect it' lesson to permeate his thick skull.

We have escalated now, to the cries of "nobody loves me", coupled with the anguish of being expected to clean up his Own. Damn. Mess.

My little boy can't understand why no one wants to share in cleaning up the flotsam and jetsam that he has strewn about over the past week.  Two weeks, actually, as we were out of town last week and he escaped the evil torture of room cleaning.  He fully expects someone else to do it for him.

I know there are moms out there that would rush to console their little darlings, or would calmly speak to them in hushed tones about how much they are loved and supported, and would then cajole them gently into cleaning their room.  Bless those mothers.  I am not one of them.  And I will be damned if I raise kids who think that other people should clean up their messes and do their hard work for them.

April 20, 2015

FOD

During the six years and 91 days that Obama has been president, he has played golf 224 times.

The Obamas, both together and in various states of separateness, have taken 38 vacations of some sort, on the taxpayer's dime.  This total being prior to last month's trips to Japan and Cambodia.

The Obamas have hosted twelve lavish musical concerts for the PBS series, "In Performance at the White House".  Last week, the theme was 'Gospel', and the concert featured Emmylou Harris, Darlene Love, Pastor Shirley Caesar, Tamela Mann, Rhiannon Giddens, Lyle Lovett, Rance Allen, Rodney Crowell, with Aretha Franklin and T Bone Burnett also in attendance.  

This week, alone, the president will welcome the Ohio State University football team, NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick, and the New England Patriots.

On Saturday, the Obamas will attend the White House Correspondents Dinner, which, inexplicably, includes not only journalists, but a slew of celebrities, many of which are frequent pals of the Obamas.

Of course, the Obamas have hosted world leaders, political figures, and royalty.  They get to decorate and celebrate with someone else's checkbook.

And yet, the tool occupying the Oval made a crack about Michelle not being compensated for her position as his wife.

Granted, you couldn't pay me enough to be in the same room with that jerk, but, the nerve of that guy, to make a joke about pay disparity by pointing out that Michelle isn't getting bankrolled to issue her school lunch edicts.  FUBHO.

Lest we forget:


April 14, 2015

Furiously Franchised

Saturday night my circumstances were such that I had 3.5 hours to kill, at night, far enough away from home that it only made sense to stay in the general area during that time.  I tried to find appropriate activities to fill the time.  I desperately tried to find fulfilling activities, but ultimately what fit into my schedule was a showing of the movie Fast & Furious 7.

In hindsight, I think it might have been helpful to have seen F&F 2 - 6, which I have not.

I never thought I would utter this phrase, "Ludacris and Duane "The Rock" Johnson were two of the best actors in the movie."

FF7 clocked in at 2 hours and 20 minutes.  Of that, there were approximately 18 minutes of believable action on the screen, most of which featured bare female asses.  Vin Diesel changed his facial expression twice, well maybe three times, during the movie, though it is hardly discernible.  There were around 3,000 punches thrown, with no residual bruising to mar subsequent scenes.  I recall at least four instances in which people jumped from one moving car to another, with no ill effect.  Hundreds of cars were wrecked on film, and, after filming was finished, 230 vehicles were crushed to prevent fans of the series from getting their hands on them.

That pesky little 'suspension of disbelief' thing should be explained to the film's director.  People cannot drive cars off of cliffs, out of airplanes, head-on into another vehicle, and not only survive, but pop right out and on to the next bone-jarring scene - makeup and muscles intact.

There was so much gratuitous violence that I found myself looking away for long stretches of fight scenes.  There was nothing enjoyable about watching ridiculous beatings with (unbelievable) predictable outcomes.

Actor Paul Walker died at some point during the filming of FF7, though I am not enough of a fan to track down exactly how much filming had been completed.  The last few minutes of the film are a tribute to Walker, offering up a montage of scenes from the first six movies, and a touching beach scene in which the rest of the cast purportedly comes to terms with the knowledge that Walker's character has decided to embrace the home life with his wife and child and won't be going on any more adventures with them.  The movie ends with a scene in which the two male leads drive side-by-side, and then Walker's car veers off on a path of its own as the last strains of Wiz Khalifa's 'See You Again' play out.

The quiet theater was filled with the sound of grown men sniffling, clearly moved by the emotional ending.  That was almost enough to make me forget that I spent twelve bucks on a shitty movie.

April 13, 2015

FOD

This handshake has been a dominant news story:


Raul Castro and Barack Hussein Obama, during a meeting that BHO termed as "historic".

I have never really understood the United State's stance on trade and travel with and to Cuba.  There are plenty of other countries around the world that support terrorism, are Communist, or would rather see us all dead - and yet the United State's ultimate freeze-out stance against Cuba has lasted for over 50 years, while some other major players in world terrorism and genocide get a pass.

It seems a certainty now, that Cuba will be removed from the list of "State Sponsors of Terrorism", leaving only Iran, Sudan, and Syria.   Other countries not on the terrorism list but restricted by U.S. trade embargoes are North Korea and Burma.  Why aren't Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq on those lists?  Shouldn't our president concentrate more on clear and present dangers to Americans, while tapping the brakes before removing Cuba from the list, knowing that Vladimir Putin is a lot closer to Castro than Obama will ever be?

I can't help but think of Cuba as the low-hanging fruit of an Obama administration desperate to put something on their foreign policy resume.

April 10, 2015

Big Bad Bill is Sweet William Now

I enjoyed hearing Bill Clinton speak a lot more than I thought I would.  And, without going into a lengthily psychoanalysis of his upbringing and why he likely chose to marry a domineering sort of woman, my amateur impression is that he is much different than his wife.  And, as much as I will suffer should his wife find herself getting elected as president, I smile thinking of Bill having the run of the White House again, and getting into mischief.  I think it would be entertaining.

What is often lost in political diatribes is the fact that Bill Clinton is a very smart man.  Book smart.  Yes, he let his little head rule too often, and yes, he and his wife are conniving, murderous, opportunistic manipulators - but that takes a bit of intelligence to pull off.  Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar, studied at Georgetown, Oxford, and Yale.  He is extremely well spoken - and, having been the president, has a great many names to drop and tales to tell.  It was a pleasure listening to him, though he does not, at all, shy away from tooting his own horn.

Interestingly, Clinton spoke of both presidents Bush by name, but never even alluded to the current president.  He spoke of Boehner and Pelosi, spoke of world leaders past and present, spoke of current events and political challenges, but never said a word that remotely referenced Obama.  Waking up this morning to the news that Hillary intends to announce her candidacy this weekend has me wondering if Bill's omission was a hint of a separation strategy related to her campaign.

Clinton bit his lip, got teary eyed, smiled that sly grin.  He chuckled and had that twinkle in his eye, though it was hard to ignore how much he has aged.  Aged well, but aged.  He even made a comment that "youth matters", which led me to wonder if Hillary's campaign had screened his remarks.

I imagine it is difficult to adjust a speech to the median intelligence of a room that spans such a wide spectrum of people.  When Bill spoke of spending $3 billion of "your money" to sequence the human genome, the lady sitting in front of me turned to her friend and asked what a genome was.  He did touch on climate change, but also commented, "There is nothing wrong with fracking technology."  But, no matter what he spoke of, one thing remained as the common thread.  Bill Clinton is optimistic and hopeful about America and the world.  My boss, a staunch conservative, often says that he once heard Clinton say, "Never bet against America", and that piece of advice is a mantra to live by.  After listening to Bill speak, I believe that, no matter his faults, he does love his country and has faith that our problems can be solved if people will work together - traits that our current president is lacking.


April 9, 2015

Slick Willie is in town

I am supposed to be attending a conference today, a vendor produced, energy industry-focused sort of affair.  Instead, I am in the office putting out fires and hoping that I will be able to make some of the afternoon sessions, and at the least, be there for the keynote address.

The fact that the keynote speaker is none other than Bill Clinton, is a head-scratcher.  The Clinton Foundation focuses on issues of climate change, health, and female equality around the globe.  I can't help but wonder what the topic of Mr. Clinton's speech will be.  Will he lecture a roomful of energy industry leaders on climate change?  Or will he choose to address the male-dominated industry on matters of letting the girls have a seat at the table?  If nothing else, I expect it will be entertaining.  I am a little fan-girlish at the thought of hearing that trademark Clinton chortle in person.  Clinton is kind of like that dingbat philandering uncle that you know is full of shit, but you still love to sit around and listen to his stories.

I have to get back to work, so I can get out of here in time to pick up a cigar to go with the blue dress I am wearing.  I can't afford a Gurkha, but I only want something that I can sneak into a picture, should a photo op present itself.

April 6, 2015

FOD

Today the White House hosts the annual Easter Egg Roll.  Basically a photo op, hundreds of kids are welcomed to the White House lawn for all sorts of book readings, tours, and the roll itself, which involves a race pushing eggs with long handled spoons.  I got my fill of whiny kids in scratchy ruffled Easter dresses on Saturday at a local tulip farm, so I have a little sympathy for those forced to work the event.  But, I suppose they are gluttons for punishment anyway, if anything written about the Obamas treatment of staff is remotely true.

The First Family made their annual trek to church on Sunday.  As we all know, the president doesn't just show up anywhere, especially with his family.  This church had weeks of warning, had been searched, vetted, and prepped for the "surprise" visit.  The pastor acknowledged that the president was in the audience:
After the singing stopped, the pastor Dr. Howard-John Wesley came to the front.
“How fitting that on the day we celebrate the rising of our Lord and savior, we also welcome our sitting president,” he said, as the congregation began to applaud and also welcomed the First Lady.
"How fitting..."?  WTH?  What kind of pastor compares once a year church attendance of the president to the resurrection of Christ?  What is "fitting" about it?  The pastor then delivered a politically charged sermon that included this gem:
“Even today in our political landscape, a line in the sand is drawn forcing you to make a decision on where you stand,” he said. “Where do you stand with rights or same sex couples…where do you stand on gun reform, where do you stand with police body cameras? Where do you stand on affordable health care? Life has a way of making you make a decision.”
“Where you stand on the resurrection of Jesus Christ: You either believe it or you reject it,” he added.
Oh, okay.  Gun reform, police body cameras, gay marraige, and Obamacare are of the same caliber as belief in the resurrection of Christ.  Gotcha.

It doesn't take too much work to see what sort of pastor Dr. Wesley is.  Apparently his sermon after the Trayvon Martin verdict was voted as one of the best on the subject by Time magazine - something that his church website highlights in his bio.  I could write a comprehensive treatise on everything wrong with a church that highlights their pastor's media triumphs, but if you are stopping here at my blog, I really don't need to preach to the choir.

I have lost count of the number of times I have wondered how this president and his supporters sleep at night.  There is something just a bit larger, more magnified, about the outright politicalization of a church, and the pastor's sermon on Easter Sunday.  While one of my earthly weaknesses is the desire to be validated - to see God's judgment play out in my time and in front of me, sometimes things are so wrong, that all I can do is shake my head knowing that the judgment they will one day face doesn't begin to compare with any of the evil punishments that my small mind can think of.

April 4, 2015

Not easily impressed - or parted from my money

This time of the year is such a whirlwind for me.  Last week Crash celebrated his 8th birthday (with an archery party, no less, the tales of which I will save for another post), this week The Princess celebrated her birthday, Easter is tomorrow, Boom's college Parent's Weekend in two weeks, Mr. H's birthday, Mother's Day, the end of school, and somewhere in there I am supposed to be planning my son's Court of Honor for earning the rank of Eagle Scout.

Working, chauffeuring, planning, and being a mom force time management decisions that often keep me up late, or up early, or both.  I love that the internet provides options to have delivered to my door things that I don't necessarily have the time to drive to a store and get.

I got an email the other night from Amazon, advertising a service called "Prime Now".  Amazon offers a select group of products that can be delivered to my door in one hour.  People in other cities have a two-hour delivery window, but I live about 10 miles from a ginormous Amazon distribution center, so if I need a sterling silver pendant necklace in the next 60 minutes, I can get it.

I got very excited, what a great service!  I started to browse, with all the upcoming events that required purchases in my mind.  Whose shopping habits helped Amazon determine what products they would offer?  My guess is techie, fitness minded, organic pet food buying, clean freaks.  The categories and top products are an array of the latest tech gifts, Fitbits, (mostly cat) food of the very expensive variety, and an entire section of household cleaning products.

As badly as I wanted to test the one hour delivery system, I just could't find anything I needed.  Which was probably good, as I later learned that despite all the advertising for "free" one hour delivery, there is an expectation that you tip the delivery driver.  Granted, if it was something I desperately needed, and just didn't have a way to get it any other way, I would be willing to pay for the delivery.  But, I hate being bait and switched.  Free means free.

I am not so mightily impressed as others are with the idea of Amazon same day delivery.  Aren't we just circling back around?  Milkmen, grocery delivery, pharmacy delivery - all things that I remember from my childhood.  And, Dominoes has been custom-making pizzas and delivering them in 30 minutes or less for decades.  Hey Amazon, want to impress me?  Get my doctor to make house calls (that I can afford).

April 3, 2015

Grace for Allen

Twelve years ago today, I arrived at Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, via ambulance, as The Princess had decided to arrive some 6 weeks earlier than expected.  My doctor felt it would be best for me to deliver her next door to Fort Worth's preeminent children's hospital, as we expected to have her whisked away to the NICU.

Instead, she was born tiny but absolutely perfect.  By the time I was out of the O.R. and on my way to the recovery room, they came to tell me that there wasn't a single health concern with The Princess, despite her prematurity.  She never had to leave Harris, spending the first few days of her life in their basement nursery waiting on me to be cleared for discharge.  We rode out one particularly nasty spring storm together in that basement nursery, and I remember how peaceful and safe it felt, sitting there with a dozen or so newborns, as the storm raged outside.

This morning, in that same hospital, my friend Allen will undergo surgery to remove as much of his brain tumor as they can.  I hope and pray that he will get remarkable, if not miraculous, news when he wakes up in the recovery room.  I am not usually an overtly spiritual person, but I can't help but draw parallels to the anniversary of my daughter's birth, and the fact that it is Good Friday - and hope that it means something positive that my friend is in that hospital having surgery on this day.

Whatever it is that you do to lift people up - a thought, a prayer, lighting a candle, lifting a glass - will you do it in the name of Allen, and all the other good people who have been dealt a shitty hand, today?

March 30, 2015

FOD

I am so weary of this president.  As busy as I am, and as lax as I have become about posting here, it is obvious, but I need to repeat it nonetheless.  Fatigue is my number one Obama-related emotion.  I am still repulsed, and angry, and fearful, but mostly I am overwhelmingly tired of thinking, hearing, and seeing that jerk.

John Kerry has been in Switzerland taking part in negotiations that on the surface are supposedly for making sure that Iran isn't enriching uranium for nuclear weapons.  I have always been fascinated by the idea that heads of state, or their representatives, get together and decide who gets to have a nuclear weapon and who doesn't.  It's like the Little Rascals holed up in their club house with a "No Nukes For You" sign out front.

Is anyone the slightest bit honest in those talks, or is it all just a giant circle jerk version of some perverted political game wherein they try to see if anyone is dumb enough to agree to limit their own military power just because some other country thinks they should? We all know that Iran likely has nuclear weapon capability, though Kerry comes across as so dull that he might actually be fooled.  Whatever agreement might come out of these talks can/will affect our foreign relations worldwide.  One of the more terrifying rumors coming out of the talks is that Iran may agree to ship much of its stockpile to Russia.  Yeah, because Putin has been so trustworthy of late.

Tuesday is the deadline for this nuclear deal that has been months in the making.  As the world waits and watches to see what will come out of the talks, our President is sequestered with his top aides, vetting information, studying reports, talking on the secure line with Kerry, anxious to broker a deal that will protect the free world from evil axis powers like a nuclear-capable Iran.

Nah, just kidding.  Obama do what Obama do best...

The president of the United States went to Florida for the weekend to golf with Alonzo Mourning, Ahmad Rashad (who, coincidentally, is dating Valerie Jarrett), and Cy Walker (Valerie Jarrett's cousin).

On Sunday Obama played his eighth round of the year, bringing his presidential grand total to 221.

March 23, 2015

FOD

Last week the interwebs were ablaze with the news that a secret buyer had purchased the Hawaiian estate that was once the filming location for Magnum P.I..  Someone has since come at and claimed otherwise, but it wouldn't be the first time someone has lied on behalf of the Obamas.  Having visited the island state during this presidency, I am aware that Hawaiians, in general, love the guy.  Seeing his bobble heads and cardboard cutouts at all the souvenir shops and airport stores is off-putting enough.  The Obamas moving there would have sealed the deal on killing any future travel plans to Hawaii.

This week an "impeccable source" (whatever the hell that means) claims the Obamas will be moving to New York after leaving D.C..  They will be in good company, and one can hope that they will hunker down in their overpriced home and never be heard from again.

The thing that gave me a good chuckle was when the article mentioned that Chicago likely isn't sophisticated enough for the Obamas.  I know it sounds racist, but sheesh, have you ever heard anything more uppity?  I am sure that Michelle and Barack turn their nose up when thinking about the Bushes choosing to live in Texas after office, and, thank God for that.  I am sure the Lone Star State is safe from any future occupation by the Obamas.

March 21, 2015

Not so boring Friday

After work last night, I went out to dinner and shopping with my daughters.  As we were nearing home, we witnessed a hit-and-run accident.  In fact, it happened right beside us.  As we were about to go through an intersection, another car passed us in the left-hand turn lane, then veered into the oncoming lane making a left turn and clipping the front of an oncoming car.  In the split-second that I realized what had happened and was looking for a safe place to pull over, Boom said, "They aren't going to stop," pointing to the car continuing west from the intersection.

"The hell they aren't," I said, noting that other cars were stopping to check on the disabled car in the intersection, and that I could give chase without fear of no once else rendering aid that might be needed.

The other driver was clearly accelerating, headed toward the highway.  Nice try, but the beauty of mom-mobile SUVs are that they pack nearly 400 horsepower - you aren't going to outrun me on a straightaway. I am not sure if it was conscience, my bright lights in her rear-view, or the speed at which I hung with her, that got her to pull over - I never spoke to her, just sat there with her car and scowling face spotlighted in my headlights, as I talked to the 911 dispatcher.  She finally stopped, threw her door open, cigarette in hand, glaring at us, and stumbled around to the front of her car.  In hindsight, I wonder if her tire ran down or something else was damaged that caused her to stop.  She wasn't concerned if anyone back at the accident scene was injured, just pissed that she was caught.  We all thought she looked drunk - granted we were judging solely on her inability to walk straight and her bleary-eyed glare.  She had pulled over in a very dangerous spot with no shoulder due to construction, so I didn't stay long, fearing that we would get hit sitting there in the road.  I had to go a mile down the road to get turned around so that I could return to the original scene and identify myself to the officer, as directed by the dispatcher.

Granted, I wouldn't have chased anyone if I lived in a more dangerous area, or if the car looked like it belonged to some sort of thug.  I am not stupid.  My decision to follow was reinforced when we got back to the accident scene.  The driver that had been hit was a sweet little gray-haired elderly woman.  Luckily she wasn't hurt, but her car was pretty trashed.  I spoke briefly to her, gave my information to the officer, and then headed home.

Curiosity got the better of us, and the girls encouraged me to circle around so that we could pass the site where the hit-and-runner (and the cops) were stopped.  When we passed by, there was plenty of activity around her car, but no sight of her, building our hope that she was cuffed in the back of the cruiser.  It would have been perfect, had she been doing a field sobriety test when we passed by.  Oh well, can't have it all.

When we finally got home and headed to bed, Boom gave me a hug and said, "Thanks for letting me check car chase off of my bucket list."  It wasn't really much of a chase, but kinda fun for a Friday night.

March 17, 2015

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

You will be happy to know that the White House fountain is colored green today, in honor of Saint Patrick's Day.

That's right, the White House has placed, what I am sure is organic, non-toxic, all-natural green dye into the water to celebrate the holiday that commemorates the arrival of Christianity in Ireland.

The president is hosting the Irish Prime Minister, Enda Kenny.  One of Kenny's first acts as PM of Ireland was to slash his own pay, then lead further reductions for other ministers, as well as leading the charge on reducing politician's use of government provided transportation.  Kenny has been insistent at keeping Ireland's corporate tax rate low.  His goal for Ireland's budget is to operate with a deficit of 3% of the GDP.

I will be lifting my glass of Guinness tonight in hopes that Kenny's politics rub off on our president.

March 6, 2015

Getting your money's worth

Incident: AirExplore B738 at Birmingham on Mar 1st 2015, lightning strike
By Simon Hradecky, created Monday, Mar 2nd 2015 23:10Z, last updated Monday, Mar 2nd 2015 23:10Z
An AirExplore Boeing 737-800, registration OM-HEX performing "fear of flying" flight ED-4444 from Birmingham,EN to Birmingham,EN (UK) with passengers, was returning from an about 40 minutes' flight to calm fears of flying and was on approach to Birmingham about 15 minutes prior to landing when the aircraft's right hand wing was struck by lightning. The crew continued for a safe landing on Birmingham's runway 15.
A passenger reported: "Not much was heard by way of sound but there was a bright flash which lit the whole cabin."
A post flight inspection revealed damage requiring repairs, the aircraft is still on the ground about 30 hours after landing.
You can't make this stuff up!  Someone on Reddit claimed to be a passenger on this flight, having paid for the service that takes you up to overcome your fear of flying.  
I was on this flight "getting over my anxiety" and to be honest it's probably the best thing that could've happened! Flying on a clear day with no winds would've been nice but wouldn't have been much use when flying in bad weather in the future. The running commentary we had throughout the flight (from a Virgin Atlantic senior captain(in the jump seat!)) was a great help and when we were struck he ever so calmly announced that we'd had a lightning panic. Due to the orientation of BHX the landing was in pretty strong crosswinds which was also a great experience. The only thing that would've made this flight better would've been a go-around! I couldn't have asked for a better flight (if you know what I mean) to help me get over the fear...
He sure has a good attitude, though I wonder if the other fear-of-flying passengers came out with the same optimism. 
I wonder if the company that runs these flights goes in ahead of time with rubber seat covers...

March 5, 2015

Say it ain't snow

Another snow day for my kiddos, and most of north Texas today.  About dinner time last night, the temp dropped below freezing and the rain turned to sleet.  After depositing a healthy layer of ice, the precipitation turned to snow sometime during the night.  Area snow measurements range from 2 to 7 inches.  My amateur stick-a-ruler-in-the-snow measurement read about 3 inches.

I woke up around 3 am, wide awake.  It was bright outside, which struck me as odd, considering the cloud cover.  I suppose the brightness is a result of the blanket of white, reflecting what light there was outside.  I entertained thoughts of cranking up "Do you wanna build a snowman..." to wake my kids, but thought that I would certainly pay the price around 1 pm when their lack of sleep caught up with them.

The forecast today has our temp above freezing by late afternoon, so the roads will clear by tomorrow.  That didn't stop 90% of the populace from cleaning out grocery store shelves.  It has become hilariously formulaic, the news coverage of a winter weather event in North Texas.  Pre-event, we get the dire forecasts, the reminders to shelter pets, cover faucets, move fragile plants inside, along with live reports with a camera shot of empty milk coolers and barren bread aisles.  As the weather moves in, the local channels break in to regular programming to show the first snowflake hitting the ground.  They interview the snow plow and sand truck crew chief, they explain the chemical make-up of the ice preventative brine used to treat bridges and airport runways.  The first rush hour of the weather will have multiple reporters camped at every critical highway juncture, lecturing people to Stay! Off! The! Roads!, as they travel from spot to spot in the station's "Thunder Truck".  This morning we sat mesmerized in front of the television as they held a 5-minute close shot of a car backing down an interstate highway flyover ramp.  And, in the hours since, every time they throw the newscast to that location, they refer to the earlier cars-in-reverse incident as "high drama".

I can't believe I sat there and watched, but it did provide a moment of sweet remembrance from my own childhood, as I watched my kids' faces when their school closing scrolled across the bottom of the screen.  Snow Day!  No matter that we had received the news via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, text, and phone message - seeing it on the television gives it that extra something.  They cheered and I smiled, remembering how liberating that news was as a child.

March 4, 2015

Negative Waves

I missed FOD this week, but it was somewhat intentional.  There is so much negativity related to the president, and politics.  That isn't what our founding fathers intended.  That isn't why so many have risked their lives for this ideal of freedom and democracy.

This president, it seems, is determined to go out in a blaze of self-righteous, uppity, long-term damage glory.  Good luck to the poor sap who gets elected next.  Our credibility is shot with so many former allies.  Obama is like a psycho boyfriend that decides to kill or maim the ex-girlfriend with the, "if I can't have her, nobody can" mentality.  He has set about destroying relationships, alliances, ideals, and trust to such a degree that it will take decades to recover.  And, as divided as we are as a nation, I am not sure even the greatest of leaders could repair both the internal and external damage anytime soon.

As I read back over the last paragraph, I have done exactly what I was trying to avoid.  All the negativity.  We battle this at work, and my boss has put a shortcut to this movie clip on his desktop.  When the negativity starts, he clicks on the shortcut, and plays this not-so-subtle reminder for everyone in the office:

February 27, 2015

Put a sweater on!

I am not much of a fashionista.  Never have been, and don't really care.  I prefer comfort over anything else.  Granted, I don't want to look like a slob, but I don't subscribe to fashion magazines, I don't need any specific labels, and I don't care if I am wearing last year's shoes.  In fact, I have many a shoe, sweater, and t-shirt that are older than my children.

Despite my general nonchalance regarding fashion, I do believe in some general rules.  While Labor Day might not be a hard deadline for packing away the white items, there is attire that is clearly meant for summer and warm weather.  And wearing it in winter drives me nuts.  
Now, I live in Texas, and there are some fashion norms here that I accept despite their cross-seasonal wackiness.  For instance, shorts on the bottom with long-sleeves, sweatshirts, and/or sweaters on top.  It just works.  
The trend of females on television news broadcasts wearing sleeveless outfits makes me crazy.
Is it a humble-brag thing, to show off toned arms despite the outdoor temperature?  This morning a local meteorologist stood in front of the green screen that was showing the blowing snow outside, warning everyone to bundle up due to the wind chill, and all the while, she was wearing a sleeveless dress.  The visual message does not compute.
I noticed the same thing the other day on Fox News.  The New York City studio windows showed the winter weather outside, while every single female in the studio was in a sleeveless ensemble.  I think it just makes you look stupid to present yourself as a well-informed news person, yet be inappropriately dressed for the weather that you are reporting on.
In other news, for reasons beyond explanation, a local weather man has become meme-tastic, after his spot-on predictions for school closures.  This was my favorite, the man himself posted the picture and caption on social media:

I told you kiddies school was going to be cancelled tomorrow! OK...tell me...who's your daddy!!!

February 24, 2015

Just shoot me...

The kids are on day two of school weather closures.  And now, this...



The temperature is supposed to get above freezing at noon today, but will drop again around 10 pm.  Not enough time for the roads to dry, so there will be a nice sheet of ice under any of the forecasted snow.  Praying that the track shifts north or south - north we just get rain, south it stays completely dry.  Otherwise, 2-4 inches of thick wet snow. Ugh.

Yesterday I let the kids take it easy, they played on the ice for a bit, watched TV, played video games, etc.  This morning I am lecturing them about taking advantage of these forced days off to get ahead, study, practice, prepare.  They glower at me and point out that they will be lucky to make it to school at all this week.

For as long as I can remember, our north Texas school calendars have had two bad weather make up days on them.  For as long as my kids have been in Texas schools (15+ years), they have had to make up extra days, get waivers for extra days missed, etc.  Maybe they need to plan better, so the kids aren't going to school for two weeks in June.

February 23, 2015

FOD

Last night I watched the Oscars.  Well, I read a book in the same room, while the show played on the television.  I like the music numbers, the pretty dresses, and the annual death montage which spurred me to say, "Lauren Bacall died?".  And, no, I didn't notice that they skipped Joan Rivers, Jan Hooks, and Elaine Stritch, among others.  As the names and faces of directors, writers, and marketing people scroll by, I understand that there are people unknown to me, that are important to the movie business.

I looked up from my book on occasion, as winners were announced, and listened to the self-serving crap that came out of the winners' mouths.

I find it distasteful for anyone to use an award podium as a political platform.  For actors to do so at the Oscars is all the more disrespectful and crude.  They are shitting in their own bed, so to speak.  Of course, their media darling of a president has set the example. Never before has a president acted so utterly un-presidential; be it late night talk show appearances, taking selfies at funerals, chomping on his Nicorette, and using the presidential podium as his bully pulpit.

How embarrassing that we Americans are represented to the world by Hollywood and Obama.  Part of me wishes that the outbound internet and television broadcasts stopped at our borders, so the rest of the world couldn't judge us by those who dominate the airwaves.

February 22, 2015

Here it comes...

Thundersleet.  Icemageddon Redux.  Thanks, Mother Nature.


If you are reading this from a normal winter weather location, you likely can't appreciate the two things that make this such an event.  One, we are woefully unprepared for winter weather.  Our cities do not own the equipment needed to deal with winter precipitation, and there probably isn't much to be done for multi-story overpasses anyway.  Our citizenry does not own cars with snow tires, heavy coats, ice scrapers, etc.  Two, this is an ice storm.  No fluffy snow to plow off of roads, and for kids to play in.  Nope, this is sleet and freezing rain.  It will fall, it will coat everything.  There will be widespread power outages as tree branches fall onto power lines.  Idiots will try to drive on it, forcing emergency responders to take unnecessary risks to rescue them.  And, this weather event will dominate the local television stations for days.  Heck, it is already all they can talk about, which is what feeds the mass stampede to the grocery store.  Luckily, I did that yesterday.

It is all but a certainty that my kids will be out of school for the next two days.  I have a few hours today before the front arrives and the temperature drops, to grab some work from my office, and round up a few things to keep the kiddos occupied for their extended weekend.  I am trying mightily to make this a 'make lemonade' sort of event.  This is a gift of time, homebound, to catch up on chores, do some projects, get organized.  Optimism and enthusiasm are going to prevail!

Check back Tuesday, this will likely be me: