Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Tell Us Tuesday #5

Happy Halloween!

Tell us, either here in the Comments or on your own blog, if you're wearing a costume this year, and what it is.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

More Moleskine Bliss

Moleskine has come out with a City Edition!

I simply must have the London one. Not that I would dare write in it; I just have to possess it.

There's a detailed discussion of the City Edition's sensuous pleasures at this guy's blog under the heading "Stationery Porn." (This is my second favorite type of porn, btw, the first being handbags.)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Silly Saturday #5


Do you know why ducks are so funny? I don't either*, but as Petey Fisk of Greater Tuna would say, "Let's talk about ducks."

Probably my first memory of ducks involved the Secret Word Duck on Groucho Marx's TV show, You Bet Your Life. At the beginning of the show, before the contestants came out, this duck would descend holding a card with the secret "woid," as Groucho would say. The audience would know what the word was, but not the contestants. When they came out on stage, Groucho would chat with them, steering them to subjects that might get them to say the word. The closer the conversation got to someone saying that word, the more the studio audience (and we at home) would twitter. When someone did say the word, they won a hundred dollars.

No, I don't think it was Donald Duck or Daffy Duck that first grabbed my childhood attention; I believe it was the Secret Word Duck. I was in love with words (and free money) even then.

Here's a website devoted to "Marxism," called Why A Duck?

And then there's the immortal Duck Soup, a look at wars and the people who make them, still relevant today.

*I suspect it has something to do with the waddle.

Friday, October 27, 2006

It's Here!

The new Chapterhouse!
Welcome to my space oddity.
How do you like it?
Awesome, huh?
Designed by Lavender Dawn at Dreamscape.
She's awesome, too.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

It's Almost Here

Last transmission from Dave Bowman, 2001: "My God, it's full of stars!"

Next transmission, 2010:

Dave Bowman: You see, something's going to happen....

Heywood Floyd: What? What's going to happen?

Dave Bowman: Something wonderful.

Heywood Floyd: What?

Dave Bowman: I understand how you feel. You see, it's all very clear to me now. The whole thing. It's wonderful.

But enough about Iraq; let's talk about the economy!

(I heart Molly Ivins)

Bush economy 'doing remarkably well'
Molly Ivins - Creators Syndicate

10.24.06 - AUSTIN, Texas -- Oh, goody. According to the White House press office, President Bush will spend much of the next two weeks discussing what a swell economy we have. Did you know that the Dow Jones Industrial Average is at its highest point EVER? And the NASDAQ, ditto. Wow, breathtaking, huh? But the Dow is not a good indicator of how things are really going for the majority of Americans.
I just love listening to the Bushies play with numbers. When Bush took over in 2001, he had predicted a surplus of $516 billion for fiscal year 2006. Last week, the administration announced a 2006 deficit of $248 billion, missing its projection for this year by $764 billion. Bush said the numbers are "proof that pro-growth economic policies work" and are "an example of sound fiscal policies here in Washington."
This is highly reminiscent of Dick Cheney's recent observation about the Iraqi government, "If you look at the general, overall situation, they're doing remarkably well."
Bush's main talking point on the budget is that he "cut the deficit in half" -- that would be from 2004, the year the White House inflated the projected deficit for political reasons. Even conservatives disagree. Brian Riedl of the Heritage Foundation said, "The White House has a track record of projecting budget numbers to be a lot worse than they end up, which therefore helps them defeat the gloomy expectations and declare victory." If Bush does manage to make the tax cuts permanent, it will add more than $3 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years. The federal budget would be virtually in balance if there had been no tax cuts.
Bush's version of "doing remarkably well" includes a trade gap -- now a record $69.9 billion -- up 2.7 percent since July. "Short of a big correction in consumer spending, the best we can hope for is that the trade deficit stabilizes," Stephen Stanley, chief economist at RBS Greenwich Capital, told Bloomberg.com.
Meanwhile, what we see in the economy as a whole is an immense shift of wealth from the poor and middle class to the very rich. It seems a little painful to have to point this out yet again after six solid years of it, but these are lies, damn lies and statistics.
Just to give you an idea of how dependable the Bush numbers are, the Department of Health and Human Services put out a press release a few weeks ago telling senior citizens they will have "new options with low costs" and that monthly premiums in '07 will be the same as in '06.
"The Medicare prescription drug benefit... just keeps getting better," burbled HHS. They seem to have been taking too much in the way of prescription drugs. Rep. Henry Waxman, one of the most singularly useful members of Congress, found that average premiums will actually increase by over 10 percent next year. And for the lowest-priced plans, average premiums will be up over 44 percent. "It is not merely confusing arithmetic, it is deceptive advertising," said Waxman.
While lightening the tax burden for the rich, other parts of the Bush economic program continue to undermine the middle class in this country. As you may recall, in 2005 the credit industry successfully rammed a disgraceful bankruptcy reform bill through Congress. It's working out just the way we expected it to: Middle class families are borrowing more than ever to make ends meet. Most families go under if: (a) they lose a job or (b) they have a health emergency crisis.
One attorney sums up the legislation's impact: "It's designed to make life miserable for anybody who owes money. It's a help-the-banks, squish-the-little-guy law."
Bush's remarkably good economy is only good for the richest -- for the rest of us, incomes are stagnant and education and health care costs are skyrocketing. The Republican Congress blindly rubber-stamps policies designed to help only a few. Are you better off than you were six years ago?
(c) 2006 Creators Syndicate

It's Getting Closer

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Coming Soon

Watch this space.

Oh Well

It finally happened. I lost my virginity. Yes, for the first time I was pulled over by a cop in traffic.

He sauntered up to my car and tapped the registration sticker on my windshield. "The reason I pulled you over, ma'am," he said, "is because your vehicle registration has expired."

I looked at the sticker and read the expiration date aloud. "September, 2007?"

"Oh. You've already got it on there. Sorry. I called in your license number and I guess the registration didn't make it into the computer yet."

He didn't even ask to see my driver's license. Just said to have a nice day.

Well, I didn't. I spent the rest of the day wondering why he had called in my license number. Maybe it was racial profiling; I don't know.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Tell Us Tuesday #4

Tell us, either here in Comments or leave a link to your own blog:

You've been given a once-in-a-lifetime roundtrip ticket to the past on a time machine. To what destination and time period would you go, and why? Sorry, you can't go forward in time, nor can you go back to any point in your own (current) lifetime.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Clutter Clearing

Pandora has a great post about clearing out the clutter in your life. She writes:

Let me define clutter - it's anything that makes you unhealthy, unhappy,
uncomfortable or just plain cranky. It usually comes into your life by
invitation, but sometimes it just seeps under the door like that pesky tree dust
and you don't know it's there until you are sweeping out the debris.

This is a great concept and one that we can personally apply to our physical environment, our minds, and our relationships.

Clutter in our physical environment: This is what we normally think of when we talk about clutter. It's when the whole house starts looking like the junk drawer. Think how energy-draining it is to spend hours looking for some important document. Talk about making you cranky!

Cluttered mind: If you apply Pandora's definition here, this kind of clutter includes unhealthy religious beliefs. We can all immediately think of the unhealthy belief that has people blowing themselves and others up to somehow glorify their god.

Radical Islamists are not alone in the unhealthy-belief department, however. A common Christian one goes something like this: suffering in silence earns you a crown in heaven. This prevents you from standing up for yourself, making you take on every project you're asked to do because you're too unhealthy to say "no," and generally being an over-burdened, martyred pain in the ass to everyone around you.

It also applies to harmful thought patterns - no one likes me, I never win, life's unfair, etc.

Relationship clutter: This could include anything from the truly harmful, like abusive spouses and toxic family members, to the merely annoying, like whiners and high-maintenance drama queens.

Clearing the clutter from one's personal life is healthy, but Pandora's post also got me to thinking about how her definition could be applied nationally (or better yet, globally.) Saaaay, we have just such an opportunity coming up in a couple of weeks, don't we?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Silly Saturday

Hey, remember burp guns? I don't either, but they're baaaack.

This mommy doesn't just burp her baby, she burps AT the baby.

Ever see what a burp looks like?

And now, thanks to the wonders of technology, you can CREATE YOUR OWN BURP and then ... email it to a friend! (I am not your friend.)

Friday, October 20, 2006

Take That, Klingon Bastards!

Remember how the Klingons could cloak their Birds of Prey and sneak up on our Federation Starships?

Well check this out:

Scientists create cloak of invisibility

It looks like we've caught up with Klingon technology for real! Either that, or we captured one of their ships and reverse engineered it...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Texas State Fair

Is it just me, or did the Fair this year have to do with cars, cars, and more cars?

We took the folks to the Fair last weekend - had a great time and the weather was fantastic - but ... good grief, unless you're a car fanatic, there wasn't much else to see.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Today and Who's Going Home Tonight and Stuff

It's just about time for Dancing With the Stars to come on - and I'm thinking that Jerry Springer will surely be the one to go home tonight. I think he wants to, and maybe his fans will let him now that we're getting down to the finals.

I have the front doors open and a cool breeze is coming in - I can hardly believe it. After the brutal summer we've had, this is a slice of heaven.

Speaking of which, Tomcat's mom makes the best rum cake I ever drank ate! Damn, girl - that was awesome! They left yesterday morning after a visit that was too damn short.

Writers' group today ended badly when one of the members got her feelers hurt and left. You know, we are a sensitive bunch. If we weren't, we'd be accountants or something. Maybe she'll cool down and come back to us. But when I got home, my stomach was in knots and I headed straight for the wine. I hate shit like this. Why can't we all just get along? Who said that, anyway? Oh wait.

I don't have to cook tonight - yay - because Tomcat's at a DeMolay meeting. He's a Chapter Dad. DeMolay meant so much to him when he was growing up. Now that he's reached a Significant Age, he finds himself with the title of "Dad." It creeped him out at first, I think.

Now, for John who was creeped out by the nose hair picture further down, here's something sweet:

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Tell Us Tuesday #3

We just had a GREAT visit from Tom's parents over the weekend.

I'm going to borrow something my m-i-l suggested for TUT#3. She read somewhere that it would be a great idea for a person just starting adulthood to begin studying a subject they're interested in so that by the time they retire, they'd be an expert in that subject. She said she wished she had done that, but has no idea what subject she might have chosen.

This reminded me of the late Tony Randall, who became an expert on hummingbirds.

Tell us what subject you would choose to be an expert in.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Silly Saturday

I don't understand all the fuss about bad hair days. If one morning you wake up with a bad hair, just pluck it out and go on about your business. That's what I do. Duh.

Here are some real hairy facts.

Oh, and watch out for those wild hares.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A Book Meme

The Duke of Earle at Romantic Ramblings tagged me for a book meme. Great - I love memes, especially about books.

1) One book that changed your life:

Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnacht. A book of daily readings that helped me appreciate and live life in the moment.

2) One book that you’d read more than once:

The six original Dune books by Frank Herbert.

3) One book you’d want on a deserted island:

My current manuscript. Oh, and some blank Moleskines and a pen.

4) One book that made you laugh:

Skinny Legs And All by Tom Robbins. Deep and profoundly funny.

5) One book that made you cry:

The Sparrow (and The Children of God, its sequel) by Mary Doria Russell. Emilio Sandoz is a character that will be in my heart forever. It's outrageous that they've picked Brad Pitt to play him in the movie, and plan to change Sandoz' ethnicity to Australian so he can play the part. This is so wrong. Johnny Depp would be a magnificent Emilio (so would a younger Al Pacino.) The Sparrow is about mankind's first contact with an alien civilization. While the United Nations tries to figure out the best way to approach them, the Jesuits quietly fund an expedition. Listen to this from the book: "The Jesuit scientists went to learn, not to proselytize. They went so that they might come to know and love God's other children. They went for the reason Jesuits have always gone to the furthest frontiers of human exploration. They went ad majorem Dei gloriam: for the greater glory of God. They meant no harm." Russell grabs you with that intriguing statement, doesn't she? "They meant no harm."

6) One book you wish you’d written:

Watership Down, by Richard Adams. A stunning masterpiece. Besides, I adore rabbits.

7) One book you wish had never been written:

I was tempted to say the Koran because of the fanaticism it seems to have inspired, but then, one could say the same about the Bible. Of course, books don't cause evil, people do. I can't seriously say that I wish certain books had never been written. Okay, maybe I could say anything by Ann Coulter, mostly because of the pitiful waste of trees.

8) One book you're currently reading:

This is terrible because I'm not reading anything at the moment! Usually I have two or three books going. The last two fiction books I've read were A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon (the fifth or sixth in her Outlander series) and Hunters of Dune, the latest in the Dune series written by Frank Herbert's son.

9) One book you've been meaning to read:

Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America--and What We Can Do About It, by Juan Williams.

10) Tag five people:

Pooks, Pandora, Lavender Dawn, Garnie, Cynthia.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Tell Us Tuesday #2

(Answer here in Comments, or leave a comment telling us where to find your answer.)

Everyone fantasizes about what they'd do if they won a million dollars, but here's something a little different:

Tell us what you would do if you won a thousand dollars. The rules are, you have to spend it, but you can't pay bills with it, save, invest, give it away, or spend it on someone else.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Clueless in Baghdad Washington

Rice's Baffling Mideast Trip [click for full article]

Dodging bullets while hyping progress is not a convincing performance by
the secretary of state.

AFTER CIRCLING THE BAGHDAD airport for 40 minutes because of mortar and rocket fire, traveling by helicopter to the Green Zone to avoid the deadly bomb-strewn highway into the city and holding a meeting with President Jalal Talabani in darkness because the power was suddenly cut off, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice held a news conference Thursday to talk about all the progress being made in Iraq.

This kind of clueless happy talk in the face of overwhelming evidence to
the contrary might produce great material for political satirists, but it's not
very encouraging for those looking for signs of hope in the Middle East.

This is progress? It's a civil war, people. Wake up.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Silly Saturday

Ahem. Bok-bok Bok-BOK!

Submitted (heh, get it?) for your amusement today is an oldie but goodie:

Subservient Chicken is at your command.

Then, if you get tired of that, there's THIS.

For the cultural-minded, read about the historic Chicken Ranch HERE (The silly part is that it was closed down.)

And finally, visit a whole website devoted to CHICKEN JOKES!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Pier One Rocks!

The morning started out with one of my least favorite things, the annual mammogram. Ladies, you know what I'm talkin' about: (^)(<) ouch ouch then (>)(~) and (<)(^) and so forth.

I needed a bit of retail therapy after that. We don't quite have enough living room seating yet, so I stopped by Pier One to see what they had in wicker furniture. I fell in love with a quaint little settee. Only it wouldn't fit into my hatchback (too big by about just a smidge.) Called Tomcat, but the company truck isn't available today, or even over the weekend. The delivery fee is outrageous (they use an outside source.)

Just when I'm contemplating whether it's worth renting a truck from Home Despot, or asking a friend of a friend who has a pickup truck if he's available this weekend, the Manager asks where I live, and then he offers to deliver it to me in his SUV when his assistant comes in this afternoon!

I couldn't believe it. You know, just when you think there aren't any nice people anymore, something like this happens and makes your day! Since he's the manager, I won't insult him by offering cash, but I will give him a bottle of wine.

Just goes to show, even if your day starts with getting your boobies squashed, it can end up with a nice place to park your buns!

Pier One is having a sale this weekend, so please keep that in mind when you're out shopping. If you live in Dallas, email me and I'll tell you which store to go to.

Happy weekend, everybody - and don't forget, tomorrow is Silly Saturday here at Chapterhouse.

(One tiny hint: bok bok.)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Plumbing the Depths

I learn something every time the plumbers come out to the house, which is more often than I'd like - not the learning something, the plumbing problems.

Did you know that crawling around underneath houses can get you electrocuted? That's why one guy stays outside while the other guy goes under there, in case they need to turn off the electricity in a hurry.

There are wires under the house along with all those pipes down there. With the humidity, plus possible leaks, it's a dangerous situation if someone comes in contact with a wire. They explained that if a 220 wire zaps you, it'll knock you away from it. It might take half your finger off in the process, but at least you just get a quick zap. If it's a 110, however, the current will hold you forever unless the electricity is turned off. Not a good way to go.

And another thing: it's not a good idea to take an extension cord down there with you. Use a flashlight instead of taking a task light under there. Don't use power tools, either.

Tomcat's been under the house before, and is planning to go back again to do something about the loose boards on the porch that keep coming up. Now that we know about the electrical situation, we can use the buddy system that the plumbers use.

Just thought I'd pass this on!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

"Tell Us Tuesday" #1

I started "Silly Saturday" last weekend, which was just an excuse to find something silly to blog about and start the weekend off with a laugh.

Then, I wanted to come up with something more interactive, and thought of this: Tell Us Tuesday. You'll-like-it-it'll-be-fun-I-promise! Maybe it'll even get me you to keep writing about whatever the subject is and inspire you for the rest of the week!

So, every Tuesday I'll have a subject for you to tell us about. You can tell us here in the comments section, or leave a comment telling us where to look - like on your own blog.

The subject might be something from your past, or what you think or feel about certain things, your future plans, people you admire, places you've been, experiences you've had, and anything else I can think of.

Okay? Okay, here goes:

Tell Us Tuesday #1

Tell us about your favorite teacher.

I'll start:

My favorite teacher was Mr. Best. Yes, that was his real name. He taught Social Studies (do they still call it that, I wonder?)

He was unusual in three respects. First, he was a man. Most teachers were, and still are, I guess, females.

Second, he was a bachelor, which may have been a euphemism for gay back then. Funny, he didn't look gay :) but whatever, he was referred to as a bachelor by the other teachers.

Third, he was environmentally conscious waaaay back before that term was even invented. He rode to school on a motor scooter to save gas. He told us to conserve water by not letting the tap run while we brushed our teeth. He admonished us not to be wasteful.

I liked Mr. Best because he seemed to like me. I don't know why, exactly, but he seemed to like me. Once, I had almost forgotten that an assignment was due the next day, so the night before I threw together a notebook about the Vietnam war. All I did, basically, was cut out pictures and text from Life magazine. I felt guilty about not doing anything original, but Mr. Best gave me an A+!

In our Home Economics class (whatever do they call that now?), we had to make a skirt. The teacher invited Mr. Best to the classroom to watch the "fashion show." I remember his smile when I walked down the aisle wearing my ensemble. That smile meant so much to me because it was the approval that I craved. All of this was so innocent back then - there was not the slightest hint of anything improper. Can male teachers watch 12 and 13-yr-old girls model these days?

I remember another assignment he gave us, which was to write a newspaper headline to be dated 20 years in the future. Mine was, "Vietnam War Rages On."

Yes, I was a budding protestor even back then.

Now, it's your turn!
Tell us about your favorite teacher.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Finally ...

... I was able to unpack my Christmas gift from Pooks last year - a Jane Austen action figure!

It was in a box in the "laundry room," still in its original package. I hadn't unpacked it to put on my desk because I thought I would be moving to North Carolina any minute.

Well, I did move, but only across town. Finding this gift was like Christmas all over again - thanks, Pooks!