For Christmas this year, will you have
a real tree,
an artificial one, or
no tree at all?
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Monday, November 20, 2006
Friendship has been on my mind lately.
Wikipedia defines "Friendship" this way:
"Friendship is a term used to denote co-operative and supportive behaviour between two or more social entities. This article focuses on the notion specific to interpersonal relationships. In this sense, the term connotes a relationship which involves mutual knowledge, esteem, and affection. Friends will welcome each other's company and exhibit loyalty towards each other, often to the point of altruism. Their tastes will usually be similar and may converge, and they will share enjoyable activities. They will also engage in mutually helping behavior, such as exchange of advice and the sharing of hardship. A friend is someone who may often demonstrate reciprocating and reflective behaviors. Yet for many, friendship is nothing more than the trust that someone or something will not harm them. Value that is found in friendships is often the result of a friend demonstrating on a consistent basis:
the tendency to desire what is best for each other.
sympathy and empathy.
honesty, perhaps in situations where it may be difficult for others to speak the truth.
At the first Thanksgiving, white settlers gathered together to share a meal with Native Americans. They were thankful for the bountiful food they shared, and they were thankful for peace. The Indians, unknowingly of course, kept the peace for too high a price. What they thought they gained in friendship with the settlers cost them something far more valuable in the long run, their freedom. Yet another example that "peace at any price" is never a good thing.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
I've given this a lot of thought, and I've decided to convert to Pastafarianism, or as some prefer to call it, FSMism. Yes, I have decided to become a member of The Church of The Flying Spaghetti Monster. I have written to the Prophet, Bobby Henderson, to find out if I have to be dipped in some sort of Sacred Sauce first (mainly because if so, Tomcat said he would want to watch.) I want to do this right.
I was touched by His Noodly Appendage (the FSM's, that is,) some time ago when The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster was revealed.
It is important to me to become a Pastafarian, and here is why: if a local school board confuses religion with science, insisting that Intelligent Design (formerly known as "Creationism,") should be taught to our children in science class as an alternative to evolution, I can be there to demand that our equally valid theory of creation, namely, that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster, will be taught as an alternative. As the Prophet said, we have no problem with religion, except when religion poses as science. This has actually happened in Kansas City. Oh look, here is a nice poster about their Science Museum. It is my solemn, nay, sacred duty as a Pastafarian to ensure that our nation's future scientists will get equal exposure to our theory of creation wherever intelligent design is taught.
May you, too, be touched by His Noodly Appendage.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Nancy Pelosi wanted Sen. Murtha as Majority Leader. Wha - ??? This, after putting such emphasis on ethics reform, which Murtha opposes, and knowing that there were clouds in his past. I'm impressed that the Dems refused to elect him. This is healthy, and should send her the right message. I'm just disappointed that she started out this badly.
Emmitt Won! Mario Lopez is a fantastic dancer, and will probably have a stunning career on Broadway if he wants it. But Emmitt is has a special place in my heart, and not just because he's a former Dallas Cowboy and the greatest running back of all time. He's a fine human being, a wonderful father, and as we can now see, a phenomenal dancer. To top it all off, he has sex appeal. As one fan of the show recently put it, he has a smile that makes your panties fall off. :)
We had a very fine writers' group meeting yesterday. We now have two new members, and are expecting a third by the end of the year. That will bring us to six total, which should be about right for us. It feels like a good group. These people are grownups who are focused on the writing and how to make it better.
I got all my Thanksgiving recipes together today so I can make out my grocery list. Since moving to Maxwell House this summer, I now have three full kitchens, two downstairs and one upstairs. Well, I shouldn't say "full kitchens," exactly, because I don't have garbage disposals or dishwashers, and won't until we upgrade the electrical system. I'm looking forward to cooking this year and finally having room for a big ole dining table.
It sucks that we won't get to see Lost again until January. Tomcat and I decided to eschew the new series they've put into the time slot. That'll teach them. Seriously, have you ever seen so much hype over a new show? I got so sick of seeing the trailers for it; they ran it into the ground before the first episode aired.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Tuesday, November 14th, 2006
A Liberal's Pledge to Disheartened Conservatives ...by Michael Moore
To My Conservative Brothers and Sisters,
I know you are dismayed and disheartened at the results of last week's election. You're worried that the country is heading toward a very bad place you don't want it to go. Your 12-year Republican Revolution has ended with so much yet to do, so many promises left unfulfilled. You are in a funk, and I understand.
Well, cheer up, my friends! Do not despair. I have good news for you. I, and the millions of others who are now in charge with our Democratic Congress, have a pledge we would like to make to you, a list of promises that we offer you because we value you as our fellow Americans. You deserve to know what we plan to do with our newfound power -- and, to be specific, what we will do to you and for you.
Thus, here is our Liberal's Pledge to Disheartened Conservatives:
Dear Conservatives and Republicans,
I, and my fellow signatories, hereby make these promises to you:
1. We will always respect you for your conservative beliefs. We will never, ever, call you "unpatriotic" simply because you disagree with us. In fact, we encourage you to dissent and disagree with us.
2. We will let you marry whomever you want, even when some of us consider your behavior to be "different" or "immoral." Who you marry is none of our business. Love and be in love -- it's a wonderful gift.
3. We will not spend your grandchildren's money on our personal whims or to enrich our friends. It's your checkbook, too, and we will balance it for you.
4. When we soon bring our sons and daughters home from Iraq, we will bring your sons and daughters home, too. They deserve to live. We promise never to send your kids off to war based on either a mistake or a lie.
5. When we make America the last Western democracy to have universal health coverage, and all Americans are able to get help when they fall ill, we promise that you, too, will be able to see a doctor, regardless of your ability to pay. And when stem cell research delivers treatments and cures for diseases that affect you and your loved ones, we'll make sure those advances are available to you and your family, too.
6. Even though you have opposed environmental regulation, when we clean up our air and water, we, the Democratic majority, will let you, too, breathe the cleaner air and drink the purer water.
7. Should a mass murderer ever kill 3,000 people on our soil, we will devote every single resource to tracking him down and bringing him to justice. Immediately. We will protect you.
8. We will never stick our nose in your bedroom or your womb. What you do there as consenting adults is your business. We will continue to count your age from the moment you were born, not the moment you were conceived.
9. We will not take away your hunting guns. If you need an automatic weapon or a handgun to kill a bird or a deer, then you really aren't much of a hunter and you should, perhaps, pick up another sport. We will make our streets and schools as free as we can from these weapons and we will protect your children just as we would protect ours.
10. When we raise the minimum wage, we will pay you -- and your employees -- that new wage, too. When women are finally paid what men make, we will pay conservative women that wage, too.
11. We will respect your religious beliefs, even when you don't put those beliefs into practice. In fact, we will actively seek to promote your most radical religious beliefs ("Blessed are the poor," "Blessed are the peacemakers," "Love your enemies," "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God," and "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."). We will let people in other countries know that God doesn't just bless America, he blesses everyone. We will discourage religious intolerance and fanaticism -- starting with the fanaticism here at home, thus setting a good example for the rest of the world.
12. We will not tolerate politicians who are corrupt and who are bought and paid for by the rich. We will go after any elected leader who puts him or herself ahead of the people. And we promise you we will go after the corrupt politicians on our side FIRST. If we fail to do this, we need you to call us on it. Simply because we are in power does not give us the right to turn our heads the other way when our party goes astray. Please perform this important duty as the loyal opposition.
I promise all of the above to you because this is your country, too. You are every bit as American as we are. We are all in this together. We sink or swim as one. Thank you for your years of service to this country and for giving us the opportunity to see if we can make things a bit better for our 300 million fellow Americans -- and for the rest of the world.
email@example.com(Click here to sign the pledge)
P.S. Please feel free to pass this on.
Monday, November 13, 2006
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Yesterday we did something that was painful, but I hope it works out all the way around. We took one of our dogs, Sandy (a/k/a "Poo-Poo Head" on Scruffybutt's blog) to Operation Kindness so they can find her a good home. We couldn't find one for her. It's just sad to know that she is going to be caged for a while until the right people come along.
Since we moved in July, we haven't had a fenced yard for her to run around in, and I can't take her on a run with me or bicycling (circulatory problems), so she wasn't getting near enough exercise. That was one problem.
The big problem was that I could never teach her to stop barking when I told her to. We've had several dogs over the years - all SPCA finds - and I thought I knew how to work with dogs. But I just couldn't teach Sandy a thing. When I tried to put her in training class, even the instructor couldn't teach her to sit. But you know, I do realize that the fault is never with the dog; it's always with the owner. This particular dog just needed a lot of one-on-one time and much more time and patience than I've got. She isn't stupid, just ... stubborn. We tried different kinds of anti-bark collars. We had a "dog whisperer" come over and work with her (me), and that was when I realized that I just don't have the time and patience that it would take to MAYBE teach her to stop barking when she's told to. Plus, we'd have to build a fence, which is an expense that just isn't worth it right now.
She needs a home where she'll get lots of exercise and won't have someone screaming "No!" at her in exasperation, like I did.
Operation Kindness screens people very carefully, so I know Sandy will have a better home.
And I won't get in a bad mood every time someone comes to visit and we have to shout over the barking. And I know the neighbors will appreciate it because you could hear Sandy from across the street when she was inside our living room! Plus, I might be able to visit with people in the 'hood now when I take our other dog walkies.
And in the long run, I know she'll be happier.
But it wasn't easy to do this at all. We'd agonized over it for at least a year.
One immediate change we've seen around here is that Katy, our cat (a/k/a "Fuzz-Face" on Scruffybutt's blog) isn't afraid to come out now (she sort of lived in Tom's study/library.) I couldn't teach Sandy to stop barking at her, and of course that scared her to death so she'd hide. Now, she looks at Scruffybutt, Scruffybutt looks at her, and that's it. So far, so good. I think they might end up being friends.
Yesterday on my walk with Scruffybutt, I saw a loose dog three times her size come trotting toward us. When Scruffybutt saw her, she nearly yanked my arm off because she was trying to charge this big ole dog! He turned tail and ran off. She still kept growling and pulling on the leash. He stopped several yards away and turned to look back at us. She's still carrying on like she wants to kill him, and I'm saying, "Okay, let's go, let's get outta here!" Thank goodness I had her with me. :) She is SO terrier. She has no concept of her size at all. It was pretty funny. I've seen her stare down a Rotwieiller at the vet's office before.
I hope Sandy gets in a home where she can be the only dog and get lots of one-on-one attention.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Silly Rumsfeld Quotes
Reports say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don't know we don't know.
We do know, of certain knowledge, that (Bin Laden) is either in Afghanistan or in some other country or dead.
You're thinking of Europe as Germany and France. I don't. I think that's old Europe.
For a very fine article, Rumsfeld finally undone by his inability to adapt, check out Australia's Sydney Morning Herald.
Oh, and Rummy? Buh-bye.
Friday, November 10, 2006
You know that invisible thing that cats chase that we can't see? Tom calls it a "bleen." That's a word that George Carlin made up years ago because there's no word for the day after the day after tomorrow. He said let's call it "bleenday." Never caught on.
So, we use it for the invisible thingy only cats can see. Our cat, Katy (see Scruffybutt's blog for a pic) chases these things whenever they, um, appear?
So this morning as Tom left for work, he said, "Careful; there's a bleen loose in the library."
The election results were fan-tab-u-lous.
Kinky Friedman, however, only got 13% of the Texas vote for governor. Oh well. The good news is that the incumbent, Republican Rick Perry, although keeping his seat, now knows that more people in Texas voted against him than for him.
The real shocker here locally is that Dallas County went Democratic. No one predicted that, and there were some very surprised Republican judges and district attorney.
I think Nancy Pelosi has been a class act these past few days, and I'm going to hold her to the promise of representing the Center, not the far-left fringe. This is something we all must do - hold Congress' feet to the fire for a change!
Hope y'all have a good weekend. I'll try to come up with some silly for tomorrow's post.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Monday, November 06, 2006
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Here's what Tomcat wrote last night:
His Grandmother had been right. There was a perfect word for everything. If not, one should be made up. But schmuck was the perfect description of this person.
He wasn't an asshole; he wasn't a dickhead; he wasn't even a shithead. All of that would have indicated maliciousness. This one was a schmuck.
Grandpa had a different piece of wisdom to impart. "Put that down, idiot child, I told you not to touch it!" But he was a carpenter and Gran was a teacher.
The melting ice had diluted the Scotch more than he would have preferred. But sitting on the edge of the sink for half an hour had caused the inevitable. Foster had simple leaned against the wall of the stall.
A tap at the door followed by the timid but earnest voice of Mike Wagner brought him near to reality. "Mr. Foster, are you OK in there?"
"Just dandy, Mike". Jon Foster raised himself back squarely on the commode. "Is Cornwall still in my office?"
"Uh, yeah. He asked me to see if your were OK".
Jon Foster, age 49, MBA from the University of Hard Knocks, sole stockholder in a company that recycled computer monitors, stood and pulled up his shorts. After some thought and balancing, he pulled up his trousers and fastened his belt. Then he washed his hands and left the men's room for the long walk down the hall to his office.
He sat down in his worn chair, entwined his fingers on the top of his head, leaned back and closed his eyes.
"David, I understand what you've done. Can you tell me what you were thinking when you did it?"
"You mean the pension fund, Jon?"
"You stupid fuck, of course I mean the pension fund! What the hell else were we talking about when I turned pale and started drinking? What the fuck were you thinking?"
The sound of the glass hitting the wall over his shoulder was still echoing in his ears, but Cornwall was able to make out what his boss was yelling.
Wagner came running in. "Everyone OK?"
"Fine, Mike. David and I are just having a private conversation about the oil industry." Foster forced a weak smile. David Wagner closed the door without a word.
"OK. So you cut class and got laid the day they talked about diversification. Or you were hungover or something. Now fast forward for me and tell me why you placed thirty percent of the pension fund in Enron?"
"Well, it seemed that the market price of Exxon and Haliburtin was overpriced, so I figured we should take our gains and reduce our holdings in those companies. Oh, and Becthtel too."
Foster dropped his head to his chest.
"You know, David, I would have diversified away from those companies as well, at least over time. Moved some of the fund into socially conscious investments. I mean we're in the recycling business. But thirty percent of the fund in a single company? And it had to be Enron."
Cornwall was silent.
"No more than ten percent of the fund in any single segment; no more than five percent in any single company. That's how we've done it since the beginning. Take our gains at 15% and reinvest. That's what we have done since the beginning." Foster turned his head to the security monitor, which watched over the production line.
"You know," Foster pronounced, "I don't even want to pollute my consciousness with what you were thinking. Your office has a window onto the production floor doesn't it?"
"I want you to go back to your office and touch nothing. Do not touch the phone. Do not open e-mail. Do not shuffle a single piece of paper. Don't even think about reading the Wall Street Journal. Turn off the radio or CD or whatever you listen too. I want you to stare out the window at the production workers out there and just watch them for the rest of the day."
Foster leaned back. "You are to take no more than your usual hour for lunch, during which time you are forbidden to shoot yourself. If your life ends prematurely it will be my doing, not yours. When you come back, you are to park yourself at that same window and watch our people work. Imagine especially the older ones, and consider how many balls you've managed to cut off."
After an eternal silence, Wagner offered "The market price was climbing every week.
" I said I didn't want to hear it!"
Cornwall left without another word and did as he was told.
Jon Foster leaned back again and closed his eyes. Precious eyes. When he had been eight years old, he and a friend found an abandoned television set. It was a decrepit blank and white left along side the Dumpster in their apartment complex. Young Jon had missed the screen with his rock, but Kevin stood closer. When the screen exploded a shard of glass hit Kevin in the left eye. A smaller piece had lodge itself into Jon's cheek and sent him into a momentary panic.
Jon's scar was almost imperceptible, but Kevin was blind in one eye. Smashing the TV had been Jon's idea.
Now, the cathode ray tubes were removed from the casings by workers who had learned every inch of every model of monitor that had ever been manufactured. They knew what to touch and what could electrocute them with stored electricity. Each piece deconstructed on a bench in a deliberate perversion of an assembly line. The components were sorted and dropped into bins; the tubes themselves handled more carefully. The younger cavalier bench techs were convinced that Foster was being over cautious, but understood that rules were rules.
Each dissected piece was sorted into tubs and moved along a slow conveyer. The CRT's were slowly dropped into a sealed crusher. The materials were contained and the vapors were filtered. Nobody had ever been injured by a CRT that had been crushed.
The electronics were melted and distilled by chemicals safely sealed in closed vats. Plastic was melted and molded into bean-sized pellets. The Great Mother was spared a tiny bit of gouging in a search for new strategic minerals.
The margin in this business was small but adequate. It was also very volatile. The market for the recovered minerals changed daily. The value of recycled plastic only slightly outweighed the cost of making more, at least for some of his customers.
Ingots of recovered gold, silver and copper were molded and stored as the market fluctuated. The vile chemicals used to recover them from the guts of the deceased machines were filtered and themselves recycled.
The business stayed, usually, on the north side of the balance sheets. Timing was crucial and Jon Foster's sense of timing was better than most. The Air Force Academy had seen to that. When his Reserve Unit was called to Desert Storm, he demonstrated that it had not been lost.
"He was trying to maximize the pension fund. That’s all that schmuck was trying to do", he told himself. Then he prepared his coffee maker for the first of many hours of labor. Returning phone calls and e-mails had better wait for a bit.
His company's pension fund had been cut off at the knees. Elmer? No, don't call the lawyers yet. Steve? Why the hell wasn't his CPA calling him? What would General Billy Mitchell do? Screw that; they court-martialed Billy Mitchell. He knew what his father would have done, and he had already done that. Balls! Drunk and under fire, what the hell was I thinking? Not even noon. Damnation!
All he'd every wanted to do is save the world, was that so much to ask? Perhaps he should have become an architect like his older brother. Richard had been so revolted by their father's irresponsibility that he had changed his name back to the family's ancient German version: Faustus.
All that was water under the bridge. Now Jon was going to have to find a way to protect his people.
Wow! Tomcat did GOOD. Drink: Black Russians.
Here's what I came up with, which was a continuation of my WIP:
He knew solace wouldn't be found in the bottle this time. Anger sustained him for a while, until the shame set in. She'd only meant to help, and she'd offered him more than he'd had a right to expect. It's just that he had expected more. He'd expected love and romance and hot sex, and understanding and companionship and everything he'd kept out of his life since the divorce. He'd wanted it all, needed it all to come back, all at once, and he blamed Brandye when it didn't happen.
The shaking was under control by the time he'd showered and dressed. He walked across the landing to knock on her door and apologize, but she had gone. He thought of leaving a note, but what if that guy, Sean, came back with her and saw it? Nah, too humiliating.
He bought groceries, sorted the mail, put fresh sheets on the bed, tried to get back to normalcy after jail and being on the run. He couldn't think about the future just now, or he'd need another drink for sure.
At Howard's in the morning, Mimosas were served all around by a bickering Arthur and Maria, but Gino declined.
Arthur was surprised. "God, what did they do to you?"
"I'll just have some water, please," Gino said.
Maria said, "I will get," and hurried off, returning with a cold Perrier.
Brandye was absent from the meeting, and since they hadn't asked about her, he assumed everyone knew what had happened between them.
"I propose a toast," said Howard, raising his glass. Danny, Maud-Ann, and Heather did the same. "To Gino, whom I was chasing long before it became fashionable."
Gino clinked their glasses with his Perrier and laughed. He had forced the laugh, and he thought it must have shown because there was an awkward silence afterward. Damn it. He wanted to make things right with Brandye, to gratefully accept her friendship like he should have done to begin with. And he sure as hell didn't want to be reminded of his criminal status.
"To Maud-Ann," Gino said, "without whom my sorry ass would still –" Without warning, Gino's voice faltered and he could not speak.
"Hear, hear," said Howard, and it was echoed around the room.
Maud-Ann said, "I'm dying to know what Danny's found out about all this. Let's get to it." She squeezed Gino's hand.
Howard gestured for everyone to be seated in his spacious Mission-style living room. "Danny?" he said.
Danny stood and pulled his Moleskine reporter's notebook from his inside jacket pocket. "Okay," he said, flipping pages, "I'll start with the victim's wife, Tammy Simms.
Drink: White Zinfandel
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Friday, November 03, 2006
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Concertgoer throws drink at Barbra Streisand during skit critical of the president
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — The funny girl wasn't laughing. Barbra Streisand had a
drink lobbed at her Monday after a mid-concert skit poking fun at President
Erlichman said Streisand, 64, believed the skit was in good fun and
noted impersonator Steve Bridges, who wrote it, is a Republican.
"This skit has been so massively covered by media, it's impossible
that it still could come as a surprise to any of the Bush admirers who bought
tickets," Erlichman said.
Hello, Bush admirers? Ms. Streisand is a well known liberal. You knew that when you bought tickets to her concerts. How did it help your cause to throw things at a 64-year-old woman?
I'm sure she appreciates the free publicity, however.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Anyone starting NaNoWriMo today? (That's National Novel Writing Month, where insane people choose the second-most insane month in which to write a novel. A whole novel. In one month. So, okay, they're off more than just a little, IMO.)
Two in our writers' group are doing this. I admire their effort, I really do. However, I must point out that it's the two males in the group, and THEY don't have to worry about putting Thanksgiving dinner together and stuff like that (at least I don't think they do.) THEY have wives.
One of them is semi-retired, but the other one has a real day job. The semi-retired one has opted out of the writers' group for this month, but the one with the full-time job is going to hang in with us, somehow.
Which brings me to the question of time management. I know that we are each given the exact amount of time, no more, no less, than anyone else. I used to work full time, and I wrote my first novel then (but not in a month!) Now that I'm retired, it seems like I'm busier than ever. At the start of every week I think I'll make a major dent in my WIP (Work in Progress), but then the end of the week arrives and I've done diddly squat about it.
I think it's more a question of energy than time. I was born tired. I've never been a high-energy type. By the time I've done everything that needs to be done, run all the errands, walked the dogs, and cleaned the cat litter box, I'm pooped. I'm ready for Dr. Phil and a nap. That's just pathetic.
When Tomcat's parents were here for a visit, we marvelled at how much energy they have and how much they seem to get done. What's up with that? Isn't it supposed to be the other way around?
I can't say that I don't have the time to do NaNoWriMo, but I sure don't have the energy to devote to it.
I wish the guys in our group THE BEST OF LUCK with this, and the rest of the group is looking forward to reading what they come up with.
By the way, Pooks says there's also going to be a National Screenwriting Month, which will be in June (a much more sensible month than November.)