Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you the merriest of Christmases, full of warmth, good food, and congenial company!

Our Christmas Tree

50/365 - Christmas Lights

Christmas Light Time Warp

58/365 - Curlicues

Gloria in Excelsis Deo

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Closest Thing. . .

Here's the closest thing we'll get to seeing snow this Christmas. . . ;o) 

Ingela posted some photos of beautiful snowy landscapes around Säffle-- and yummy homemade Swedish Christmas treats, as well! 

At least we can enjoy the snow vicariously (and not even have to deal with messy roads)!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Has the world gone mad? (Don't answer that...)

I hope you're in the mood for a heapin' helpin' of "climate change"-related nonsense, 'cause that's all that's on the menu today.  But don't worry!  It comes in three delicious flavors!

First up, there's a story from the Wonderfully Weird World of Wikipedia-- an uplifting tale in which a single man, one William Connolley, rewrites (literally) the history of climate change.  After that, we have a scrumptious pet-owner's guilt-fest.  (People who have pet rabbits are sure to love it.)  And finally-- as a special treat-- some videos from Build-a-Bear wherein the little children are simultaneously brainwashed and terrified by a charming story of how the North Pole is on the verge of melting, which could lead to the *gasp!* cancellation of Christmas!  (Trust me, you don't want to miss it.)

- - - - - - -

Earlier this week, Donald brought a news story to my attention. He thought I might like to blog about it, particularly after my delicate slamming of Wikipedia in a recent blog entry. (You know, the one where I said we shouldn't take everything we read there as Gospel? Yeah, that's the one.)

The short(ish) version of the story is this:

So there's this Green Party (read far, FAR Left) activist named William Connolley. Somehow or other, he wound up with Special Wikipedia Powers and effectively rewrote the history of global warming-- er, I mean climate change. He erased the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period-- both of which, as you may already know, cast doubt upon the effect of industrialization upon the planet's climate. (You know, seeing as both of these happened long before industrialization. Almost as though-- historically speaking-- climate change may have little or nothing to do with the actions of us mere mortals.) He rewrote other articles relating to global warming/climate change-- and we're not talking a handful of articles here. No, apparently he rewrote "5,428 unique Wikipedia articles".

According to the National Post, "when Connolley didn’t like the subject of a certain article, he removed it — more than 500 articles of various descriptions disappeared at his hand. When he disapproved of the arguments that others were making, he often had them barred — over 2,000 Wikipedia contributors who ran afoul of him found themselves blocked from making further contributions. Acolytes whose writing conformed to Connolley’s global warming views, in contrast, were rewarded with Wikipedia’s blessings. In these ways, Connolley turned Wikipedia into the missionary wing of the global warming movement."

Yes, that sounds about right.

Now, Wikipedia says Connolley's Special Wikipedia Powers-- um, I mean "administrator status" has been revoked after the discovery "that he misused his administrative privileges while involved in a dispute unrelated to climate warming."  However (as I learned from this article in the Telegraph), as little as three days ago, Connolley was spotted messing around with climate-related Wikipedia articles.  (He's also been deleting criticism of himself.  Very noble behavior!) Oh, and he just happens to be a friend and peer of the lovely scientists involved in the Climategate scandal.  (You aren't really surprised by that, though, are you?)

(Here's another article on the story, if you want to read about how Connolley averaged 27 Wikipedia contributions a day during June 2009, and so on.)

- - - - - - -

Want to read more about inaccuracies and other problems with Wikipedia?

- - - - - - -

Then this morning on Twitter, I saw a link to an article about a book titled Time to Eat the Dog: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living.  Apparently "the carbon footprint of a pet dog is more than double that of a gas-guzzling sports utility vehicle".  Unless I'm misunderstanding something here, it sounds like they base their calculations on a much more luxurious-- and expensive-- meat-heavy diet than most dogs enjoy-- but let's just put that aside.  (Because, really, who cares?)

What's your point, Robert and Brenda Vale (the authors of the book)?  If you're trying to say that we shouldn't feel guilty about having an SUV if we want one, I don't have a problem-- but if, on the other hand, you're insinuating that people with pets (because it seems that cats are also an eco no-no) should give up the dirty habit of keeping animals. . . Trust me, you really don't want to go there.  I love my two little dogs, and I don't take kindly to someone threatening my right to own a pet. 

It really does feel like these people have completely lost it.  For instance: "Other animals aren't much better for the environment, the Vales say."  Yeah, I've always kind of thought that animals mucked things up-- killing plants and other animals just so they can live-- pooping everywhere (disgusting!)-- procreating like rabbits (especially the, you know, rabbits).  I mean, seriously, what was God thinking when he made all these little consumers of Nature's Bounty?  (Ok, ok, so they didn't mean all animals-- but doesn't that sound like lunacy?)

Then there's this: 
And pets' environmental impact is not limited to their carbon footprint, as cats and dogs devastate wildlife, spread disease and pollute waterways, the Vales say.

With a total 7.7 million cats in Britain, more than 188 million wild animals are hunted, killed and eaten by feline predators per year, or an average 25 birds, mammals and frogs per cat, according to figures in the New Scientist.

Likewise, dogs decrease biodiversity in areas they are walked, while their faeces cause high bacterial levels in rivers and streams, making the water unsafe to drink, starving waterways of oxygen and killing aquatic life.
And cat poo can be even more toxic than doggy doo -- owners who flush their litter down the toilet ultimately infect sea otters and other animals with toxoplasma gondii, which causes a killer brain disease.
 We should all be ashamed of ourselves for sheltering these destructive little monsters in our homes. 

However, the article offers a ray of hope.  We may be allowed to keep our pets-- if we feed them less "impactful" foods (less meat for dogs or fish heads for cats), keep them away from "wildlife-rich areas", and so on.

Better yet, "get a hen, which offsets its impact by laying edible eggs"-- or (and lovers of rabbitkind may wish to skip this bit) get rabbits, which evidently are "prepared to make the ultimate environmental sacrifice by ending up on the dinner table". 

The story boils down to this:  "As with buying a car, humans are . . . encouraged to take the environmental impact of their future possession/companion into account."

I'm generally not one of those people whose first reaction to every global warming / enviro-impact story is to say, "Oh yeah?  Well, now I'm gonna buy extra seats on the airplane every time I fly-- and I'm gonna buy the biggest SUV I can find-- no, two of 'em-- and I'm gonna make it my goal to have the biggest carbon footprint on the block!"  Usually, my reaction is "Grr."  (Or something along those lines.)  However, we each have our breaking point, and I may be reaching mine.  No, world.  I don't have to take my so-called "environmental impact" into account.  I can have an SUV, if I want one, and I don't even have to feel guilty about it.  I can adopt ten or twenty more dogs, if I want them.  I can keep rabbits with no intention of ever eating them.  I can even keep cows as pets-- not for dairy, not for meat, but because I like them.  I can raise chickens, then take the eggs they lay and throw them at hybrids as they drive past.  . . .I would likely be fined or arrested, but there'd be nothing stopping me from doing it, that first time.  Obviously I'm not planning to do that-- or any of the other things I've listed-- but that's not the point.  The point is this:  Basically, I can do any darn thing I want to do, so long as it's legal.  It's none of your business, world-at-large. 

But I do wonder how long before we have to pay an enviro-tax based on the number and size of our pets.

(And apparently I'm still not done venting my frustration. . .) Sheesh.  No more Fido or Kitty?  Some of these wackos won't be satisfied until we're living in individual bubbles (Matrix-style, perhaps), with no contact with the outer world, because apparently we ruin everything we touch.  *inside joke* "Don't hurt it!  It's just Nature!" *end inside joke*  Until Mother Nature herself materializes from thin air,  bends down (because obviously she's about twenty feet tall, minimum), wags a finger at me and scolds, "Bad human! Bad! You'vee been vewy, vewy naughty!", I'm going to keep on doing just as I see fit.  (Environmental crazies, I'm sticking my tongue out at you.  Right now.) 

- - - - - - -

One last story, also found today on Twitter:  "Build-a-Climate-Scare:  Why You Should Boycott Build-a-Bear" by Maura Flynn. 

Attention Santas:
This missive is directed at the guardians of, and donors to, tiny humans. If you fall into that category you likely are already familiar with Build-A-Bear, a world-wide corporation that provides the most innocent of services. They sell customizable stuffed animals. Make your own bear, dog…penguin. Cute concept.

So cute, in fact, that the Build-A-Bear empire sweeps across nearly every state and into 17 other countries. You’ll find their outlets in shopping malls everywhere and even some ballparks. The company also has a website called where children can play an interactive video game that, on it’s surface, is unlikely to raise suspicion or sound alarms.

But when your unsuspecting tot logs on and hops a virtual train to the North Pole…you should know that he or she will be informed — by Santa Claus — that Christmas may be canceled this year due to Global Warming.

. . .

Girl Elf: Santa, it’s gone!
Papa Elf: It’s gone, It’s gone!
Santa: What’s gone?
Girl Elf: Tell ‘em, Dad!
Papa Elf: The North Peak.
Santa: A mountain? A mountain’s gone? How is that possible?
Ella the polar bear: Santa, sir, that’s why I’m here. That’s why we’re here. The ice is melting!
Santa: Yes, my dear, we know, the climate is changing. There’s bound to be a little melting.
Ella: It’s worse than that, Santa, a lot worse! At the rate it’s melting, the North Pole will be gone by Christmas!”
Santa: My, my…all of this gone by next Christmas? I don’t think so.

Ella: No sir, not next Christmas, this Christmas! The day after tomorrow!
And this is merely the tip of the dialogue iceberg, if you’ll forgive me for putting it that way.  . . . Children of the world can look forward to priceless exchanges such as, “Oh my! Where will the polar bears live?” and my personal fave: “Where will the elves live?”

I suspect you’d like to think it can’t get any worse than that. Thus, it pains me to tell you that animated characters actually break into a discussion of satellite photos and that Mrs. Claus conducts a rather unscientific experiment involving ice cubes.

Needless-to-say, this constitutes brainwashing on the sleaziest and most sinister level. The good news is that this nonsense isn’t coming from our government this time and the rocky economy is our friend here. People, we have the means, if we have the will, to topple these charlatans who shamelessly prey on little children. So boycott Build-A-Bear. And, more importantly, tell the world why.

Go tell it on the mountain, and hurry, before it melts.

Click the link above, if you want to watch the videos.
Those who have a weak stomach may prefer to skip it. 

- - - - - - -

Well, that's it.  I hope you enjoyed yourself as much as I did.  ;o) Nothing like this sort of garbage to put you in a right jolly Christmas-spirit mood, eh?   (And I didn't even mention the health care reform mess!  Just imagine what I could've accomplished if I had. . .)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Impatient Trixie

Here's a sampling of (some of) the weird noises Trixie makes when she feels she's been in her crate long enough:

Argh! (More Ads)

What is it with these ad designers and Obama?

. . . Actually, what's with this particular ad designer in general? 

How did he choose these photos, and why are they such poor quality?  Why is the "mom" in the top photo making a silly face?  (Shocked at the thought of a Pell grant, perhaps.)  I finally recognize the second photo as a brown dog with his head hanging out a car window-- but it took some looking to figure it out.  And the third one. . . If you're advertising insurance relief for homeowners, why oh why would you ever paste in a photo of a jogging woman's back?  Am I missing something here? 

P.S.  I love how these sites put "ADVERTISEMENT" in (small-scale) all-caps on top of their ads.  Thank goodness for that clear labeling!  Otherwise, I'd never have guessed!  ;o)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

*Insert Wolf Whistle Here*

(If there are any children present, they should be shooed from the room.  There is adult content near the bottom of this post. ;o) YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.)

In case you missed it, Obama visted a Home Depot today to speak about the very important issue of home insulation and retro-fitting.

According to the Prez, "The simple act of retro-fitting is one of the fastest, easiest and cheapest things we can do to put Americans back to work while saving money and reducing harmful emissions."

Really?  Ok, if you say so.  (I'll let it pass.  There are more important things to get to, today. . .)

He went on to say, "I know the idea may not be very glamorous, although I get pretty excited about it."

(My response:) "Um, alright. . . To each his own way and all that, but maybe you should just keep those kinds of things to yourself. . ."

But he wasn't finished:  "Insulation is sexy stuff."
(I regret to report that he added, "Here's what's sexy about it: saving money."  I regret reporting it because it ruins the flow, but I'm too honest to leave it out. ;o))

First, ugh.  Can people please stop saying things are "sexy"?  It's an incredibly un"sexy" way of expressing yourself.  Was Obama "off-prompter" on this speech, or did someone actually think this was the best way to say things?  Anyway, putting aside my pet peeves. . .

Maybe this new way of looking at insulation will inspire some daring fashion designer. . .
I can almost see it now. . .

Monday, December 14, 2009

Internet Tidbits

Belly up to the bar, boys!  Tidbits all 'round!  They're on the house!  ;o)

Very few things could make an article (?) titled "Child Stars: Then and Now" and featuring What's-Her-Name (oh, right, Lindsay Lohan) look interesting, but congratulations, NBC Connecticut!  By putting it alongside "Michelle Obama Style Guide: Nobel Wardrobe", you just may have found a way!

Yes, NBC Connecticut, where "Locals are intrigued by icy roads".

That's right, they said "intrigued".  By icy roads. 
Hey, don't ask me.  I live in southern Alabama, where we know that icy roads only exist in fairy tales.  Maybe some kindly Northerner will explain what's so "intriguing" about icy roads.  "Stressed", I could see-- or "concerned".  "Locals are intrigued" makes the icy roads sound like a tall, dark, and handsome stranger from an old film.  What's next?  "Locals are dazzled by wild fires"?

Those were all very well and good, but my favoritest tidbit of them all (today) is this one we found over the weekend on good ol' Wikipedia, where the facts are only as reliable as the latest random person to log in and type them up. 


Wikipedia wants us to dig into out pockets and pay to keep the site running, so they've put up ad banners soliciting donations.  This one (in case the photo above ceases to display) reads as follows: 

"As a professional scientist, Wikipedia is my go-to source for ideas and concepts new to me.  Donate for this?  You bet!"

Ok, ok, I admit it!  I look at Wikipedia fairly often, myself.  (It's hard not to, considering how highly it's rated in Google, which is another story altogether...)  However, I've learned not to take everything I read there as The One and Only Truth.  You know how they say you should check out any information you read on the Internet-- not just assume it's all accurate?  Well, that goes double for some of the stuff I've seen on Wikipedia.  But now I'm rambling. . .

What I find funny is that this person felt it necessary to identify himself as a "professional scientist"-- presumably to impress upon us that if he-- a professional scientist-- considers Wikipedia as his "go-to source", then surely the rest of us ought to see its incredible value and donate to keep it going.  It smacks of a sad lack of modesty (and leads me to wring my hands over the implied research abilities of modern Professional Scientists).  But then again, maybe I'm just reading too much into it. . .

ETA:  Last night, Donald pointed out that the Wikipedia testimonial isn't even grammatically correct.  (Good job! (g))  As the ad (or whatever it is) is written, Wikipedia itself is the Professional Scientist!  (I guess grammar isn't important in a Professional Scientist's line of work.) 

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Water Snake

Yesterday evening, during a walk around the pond, Donald saw a small snake right in his path.  We think it was a brown water snake.  Whatever it was, it had round pupils, so it shouldn't be poisonous.  Still enough to give you a shock when you first notice it, though. 

Water Snake, Side View

Water Snake from Above

Twitter: My Source for Politics ;o)

(For the day that's surely coming when Twitter is but a distant memory. . .)

Jamie Dupree tweets the following:

  • Some say public option is basically dead in the Senate bill, but Sen. Reid cautions that may not be true
  • Sen Reid: "We can't disclose the details of what we've done, but believe me, we've got something that's good"
  •  Sen. Reid on news reports that the public option is dead: "It's not true, okay? Everyone understand that."
 Yeah, that's pretty much what I thought when I heard the news.  

Haven't we learned by now that you can't trust a word our of their mouths?  If anything, work under the cautious assumption that the opposite is true!  

(Hm.  Didn't I say something about not dwelling on politics too much?  Oh well, I'm still trying, but it doesn't do to go to sleep at the wheel either.   [Ha.  Like I have any real control over any of this nonsense.])

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Watch Your Mouth!

How did I miss this?

Joy Behar (of The View) thinks "Black Friday" is racist terminology.  (I'm sure she's not the first, but never mind.)

Yes, just like "Black Death" (aka the Plague), "niggardly", etc.  Mustn't forget "black hole", "black sheep", and "devil's food cake"!  Let's just re-write every word or phrase that could possibly be construed as racist, while we're at it.  Why not remove the words "white" and "black" from the language completely?  Henceforth, they shall be known as "Color A" and "Color B".  Oops.  No, that won't work either, because obviously A will be considered better than B, since it comes first in the alphabet and indicates a higher score in our system of grading. . . Oh well.  I give up.  Any suggestions from the rest of you?

When will people learn to consult a dictionary or encyclopedia before performing the Foot-in-Mouth maneuver? In this "always connected" day and age-- with all the information on the Internet only a click away-- it's hardly excusable.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Al Gore: God's Gift to Mankind (?)

From Vanity Fair, this gem:

Al Gore: The Poet Laureate of Climate Change (by Mark Hertsgaard)

You can read the entire article, of course, but the gist of it is that in his new book, Our Choice, Al Gore includes a poem of his own writing-- "21 lines of verse that are equal parts beautiful, evocative, and disturbing".

Apparently, Gore wanted his book to contain one more chapter-- one detailing "the impacts of climate change"-- but his editor refused, intent on keeping the focus on "solutions, not gloom and doom".

(*gasp*  No!  Say it ain't so!)

If you're anything like me, you'll be thrilled to read that, "undeterred by his editor’s ruling, Gore re-imagined his impacts chapter in poetic form."

(*whistling, cheering, clapping*)

More snippets from the article:
The result is a surprisingly accomplished, nuanced piece of writing. The images Gore conjures in his (untitled) poem turn a neat trick: they are visually specific and emotionally arresting even as they are scientifically accurate.

. . .

It’s usually a mistake to read too much literal meaning into poetry. But the final lines of Gore’s poem certainly apply to the governments that will gather in Copenhagen from December 7 to 18 for what is regarded as humanity’s last chance to avert absolutely catastrophic climate change.

. . .

. . .the hour of choosing has indeed arrived and, as documented in Our Choice, we do have the tools to survive—if we choose to employ them.
Well, after such high praise, surely you must be eager to read the magnificent poem.

Unfortunately (?), the article only shares fourteen of the twenty-one lines of sheer brilliance:

One thin September soon
A floating continent disappears
In midnight sun

Vapors rise as
Fever settles on an acid sea

. . .

Snow glides from the mountain
Ice fathers floods for a season
A hard rain comes quickly

Then dirt is parched
Kindling is placed in the forest
For the lightning’s celebration

. . .

The shepherd cries
The hour of choosing has arrived
Here are your tools

Ugh.  What a total gag-fest.

And if Al Gore's a poet, I must be a brilliant nuclear physicist.  (Which I'm most decidedly not, I assure you.)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Trixie Does Some Tricks

We could still refine things, but so long as she gets the treats, I don't think she cares much one way or the other. ;o)

(I filmed this with our new point-and-shoot. We think the quality's pretty good for a such a conveniently small camera!)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Illegal Drugs, "Obama's Will", Etc.

(Lately, this type of thing is all I post here.  Oh well.  Better than nothing, I guess.)

- - - - - - 

Someone on Twitter linked to this story:

"Obama Ecstasy pills hit the streets".

A traffic stop in south Texas led to the discovery of some unusual drugs-- Ecstasy pills made in the likeness of Obama, of all things. 

Ecstasy is known for a sense of elation, diminished feelings of fear and anxiety, and ability to induce a sense of intimacy with others.

Perhaps a good Election Day strategy to get out the vote?

. . .

Police in Palmview detained a driver after finding black tar heroin, cocaine, marijuana and several Ecstasy pills in the back of his car.
 My first thought when I saw the drugs. . .

. . .was, "Those look like the old Flintstones vitamins I took as a kid!"

And sure enough, the article mentions that the police spokesman also noted a certain resemblance to children's vitamins.  (Always good to have your hunches backed up like that, right?) 

The police also found Ecstasy pills made to look like Homer Simpson and the Smurfs.

. . . So, where to begin?

Point #1:
Why are this type of drugs so often made in the shape of cartoon characters?  To make them appealing to kids?  I've never been completely clear on whether or not there is truth in the stories of drug dealers giving drugs to kids to get them hooked at an early age.  I guess it makes sense (from a business point of view) if they're slightly older kids, but you'd think only really young kids would be drawn in by cartoon characters, and a really young child won't have money to buy more drugs.  It just doesn't make sense to me (again, from a purely practical point of view-- obviously it could never make sense morally).

Maybe the cartoon characters make the pills look harmless-- a way to soothe the jitters of potential new users.  "Look, they've got the Smurfs on them.  How dangerous can they be?"

Could the "kid's-vitamins-look" be camouflage, in case someone sees them who shouldn't?  (It's a pretty weak defense, but these are druggies we're talking about here.) 

Or are they merely trying to appeal to their market?  Maybe drug users are inexplicably drawn to random cartoon characters (oh, and rock-star politicians).

 Incidentally, when was the last time the Smurfs were really popular?  I had tennis shoes with Smurfs on them in Kindergarten, I think, and my best friend in elementary school had eyeglasses with tiny portraits of Smurfette on the arms.  Of course, I also turned thirty this year.  It could be that the drug users of my generation are enjoying a little trip (ha ha) down memory lane. 

 Point #2:
Am I wrong in assuming that this is the first time a U.S. president's face has been used as a tool for selling illegal drugs?  Certainly I can't see Reagan or either of the Bushes on Ecstasy pills.

It must be so flattering for the President to know that these drug makers/dealers think he's cool.

Point #3:
I wonder who made the mold for these things.  His mouth (and those smile lines around the mouth) are a bit much. 

- - - - - -

This ad was on the same page as the I story linked to above:

It's not the first time I've seen it, and I imagine you've seen it, too.  It's been everywhere-- almost as much as those irritating "Lose Belly Fat!!" and "Whiten Your Teeth!!" ads.  "Obama wants Moms to go back to school!"  Really?  I don't remember hearing anything about that. . . Why, exactly?  To take some of the pressure off the job market?  Certainly there doesn't seem to be a huge demand for more highly educated mothers, at the moment.  There are more workers than places to put them!

(I looked it up.  Apparently there's some sort of scholarship program for single mothers.  Ok, ok, so maybe it's not a ridiculous idea to go to college-- even if the economy's bad right now-- not that I necessarily jump for joy at the thought that the rest of us are financing this at such a time.  {Note to the world:  Pay your own way.}  The real reason for my annoyance?  Read on!) 

The thing I dislike about this ad is the use of "Obama's Will" as a selling point.  When I see this type of ad, I wonder if moms are supposed to be inspired to go back to school based solely on the (supposed) fact that Obama wants or asks them to do so.  I'm not a mom, so maybe I'm simply not capable of seeing the appeal ;o), but I don't feel a warm glow of "Oh, Mr. President wants me to go back to school?  His wish is my command!"  Instead, tell me Pres. Obama wants me to do something and I want to know why, in detail.  I'll look at the reasoning with fierce skepticism (purely the result of experience, dear reader) and make my decision deliberately.  (I admit it-- a "yes" will probably only be given grudgingly.)  But until then, by golly, my gut reaction is as follows: "NO, and mind your own darn business, won't you?"  I won't feel obliged to do something just because this president-- or any president asks it.

(I probably come across as such an awful, willful person, sometimes-- on this blog particularly.  Oh well.  I'm certainly not in a docile, lamblike mood when it comes to those ads.)

- - - - - -

After illegal drugs and politicians, I come to a final bit of happier news--  a snake in the grass!  ;o)

On a walk last week, I suddenly paused, thought "Did I just see what I thought I saw?" and backtracked a step or two.  Yes, I had just stepped over a (very small) snake.  It was a young kingsnake, so it was a pleasure to see him.  (We found him in the first trail back from your yard, Granny and Grandpa.) 

We've also been seeing some type of large bird of prey on our walks-- maybe a red-tailed hawk.  One time after we startled it, it made that raspy call you always hear in TV shows and movies.  It's always exciting to see a large bird that isn't vulture (which are pretty common).  (g)

Otherwise, lots of deer tracks on the trails-- and we've seen the deer themselves a time or two, recently.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

They do look like a dangerous group. . .

It's always interesting when a local story makes the national news:

Thanks to Donald for bringing this to my attention. ;o)

Monday, November 30, 2009

I Wish I Could See into the Future. . .

But then again, maybe not. . .  (I'm not always sure I'd like what I'd see.)

Still, it would be interesting to glimpse what future generations will say about these times and those of us who are living them. 

Here's another one for the "I think this might make good reading in thirty years" file:

Climate-cult con is hard to 'bear'
by Andrea Peyser

When did global warming turn into a forced religion?
My daughter came home from school recently with a spring in her step and a song on her lips. With no foreshadowing -- or time to call an exorcist -- out came this chilling refrain:

" . . . You can hear the warning -- GLOBAL WARMING . . . "

By the time her father and I removed our jaws from the floor, we had learned that:

A) All the kids had been coerced into singing this catchy ditty, which we called "The Warming Song," at a concert for parents.

B) Further song lyrics scolded selfish adults (that would be us) for polluting our planet and causing a warming scourge that would, in no short order, kill all the polar bears and threaten the birds and bees.

C) There was no deprogramming session on the menu. And no arguing allowed.

The international "Climategate" scandal is now moving into its third week. And reaction from folks on the scientific and political left -- or is that redundant? -- who treat global warming as a cult in which naysayers must be crushed has been depressing:

Total denial.

The scandal began when someone hacked into the server at the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, England, and uncovered a cache of messages between leading warming gurus. These e-mails revealed guys deeply frustrated by planetary temperatures that, stubbornly, had refused to rise in some time. Were they afraid of losing their scientific juice? Or their funding?

So, as the e-mails prove, the scientists did something about it. They cooked the books to exaggerate global warming.

Of course! How can you scare the bejeezus out of little kids and small animals if you can't make the mercury move a millimeter? Simple. You lie.

But while one rival scientist predicted the shocking revelations would blast a "mushroom cloud" over theories of climate change, that has not come to pass.

The Obama administration's "climate adviser," Carol Browner, totally ignored the smoking e-mails, and attributed the scandal to "a very small group of people who continue to say this isn't a real problem, that we don't need to do anything."

"What am I going to do?" asked Browner. "Side with the couple of naysayers out there, or the 2,500 scientists?" -- who've drunk the Kool-Aid. "I'm sticking with the 2,500 scientists."

No less an authority than The New York Times sought to explain away the most damning e-mail, sent by scientist Phil Jones, who said he employed a "trick" to make temps appear higher than they were.

The paper quoted Dr. Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University as saying he often used the word "trick" to refer to a good way to solve a problem. "And not something secret."

Is anyone home?

Our children are on the front lines of the warming hysteria, a place where "experts" from Al Gore to the president leave no room for dissent or even the slightest skepticism, despite claims that are no more provable than the Earth is flat.

Children were the targets of a book co-written by the producer of Al Gore's star-making vehicle, "An Inconvenient Truth" -- a fantastical view of global warming that should have been called a fiction, not a documentary.

Producer Laurie David told Publisher's Weekly that she wrote the kids' book, "Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming," because "kids also are the Number 1 influence on their parents, so if you want to reach the parents, go to the kids." She knows of which she speaks.

It may come to pass that global warming is real. Or not.

But your children won't get the truth from Al Gore, the president or the scientific community. Or sadly, from school.

Neither will you.

A comment someone left after the story grabbed my attention.  Here's part of it:
My children came home from school with a carbon footprint survey. The intent is that we as a school attempt to reduce our carbon footprint over the course of the year. The survey asks you questions about how often you flush the toilet, or if you wear clothing made from hemp. Your carbon foot print is decreased if you answer the questions "appropriately". My personal favorite is they ask if you have non-family members living in your house. Your carbon foot print decreases if you invite strangers to stay in your home.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Those Evil Ad Execs ;o)

I went to the TV Guide website this morning, just curious about what might be coming on tonight. (Wasting time, of course. Isn't that why the Internet was invented?) An ad caught my eye:

First, I thought, "Ah, trying to cash in on all the overeating people do this time of year." 

But for whatever reason, I couldn't look away, even though I actually haven't been overeating (or at least no more than usual) and didn't happen to be in dire need of the bubblegum-pink elixir.  No, I was transfixed for another reason-- namely, that the longer I looked at the ad, the more I felt that I could be queasy, if I just stared long enough. 

Is it just me, or does that Pepto-Bismol ad possess a mysterious nausea-inducing power?

I don't know if it's the shape of the. .  Pepto ooze, or its color. . . The sheen, perhaps.  The ease with which the mind likens it to the tumultuously quivering contents of an uneasy stomach. . .


Or maybe it's just that I've taken Pepto often enough that the mere thought of it is enough to make me feel sick. 

Anyway, I wonder if the Pepto ad designer purposely tried to make anyone who sees it feel ill.  Anything to boost sales, right?  ;o)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Modesty Personified

I don't know if you've noticed, but I've been trying to curb (most of) my political posts.  Though I could pretend that I do this in an attempt to not run off my few remaining readers ;o) the real reason is that thinking about it so much was probably not good for my blood pressure and general feeling of well-being.  So while I still try to keep up with the news-- and may occasionally blog about it (as I'm doing now)-- I'm also trying to not obsess over it or let it occupy too much of my conscious thought.  (Especially since it seems there's not much I can do about it, at the moment.)

That said, I still "follow" Drudge Report on Twitter, and one tweet this afternoon ran as follows:

"Obama leaves WH clutching GQ mag -- featuring himself..."

I clicked the link that was provided and saw this:

Yep, there he is, and he's holding a copy of the magazine with himself on the cover, just as advertised. 

Well, I'm sure there's a perfectly good reason for him to be toting around a copy of a magazine with himself on the cover-- I mean, other than the fact that it's such a totally awesome ego-boost to read articles about yourself.  Especially those in which you are touted as the Leader of the Year (woo hoo!) and one of your former (?) political opponents-- in this case Sarah Palin-- is denigrated as (and I quote) "dangerous" and "poisonous".

Yes, I'm sure he has a perfectly good reason for his choice of reading material-- just as I'm certain he has a logical explanation for why he's wearing something alarmingly similar to those hideous sandals* that come with Sugar Daddy Ken.

*To any men who might wear sandals like these-- and to the women who love them-- I don't intend to be mean here.  By all means, if you like those ugly sandals, wear them with pride.  For all I know, they could be the most comfortable shoes ever.  In any case, Heaven knows I'm not the one to give fashion advice.  I tend to wear what feels good to me, whether it's fashionable or not.  I just think they're kind of ugly shoes. . . But again, I own a pair of the ugliest slip-ons known to mankind, and I still wear them around the house and yard, because they're convenient and comfortable (and because they were dirt cheap).  I wouldn't wear them if the Prince invited me to the Royal Ball-- or on a quick shopping trip to Wal-Mart ;o)-- but the mail lady and UPS guy have seen them many times.  So far, neither have turned me in to the Fashion Police or stared at my feet in disbelief, for which fact I owe them a debt of gratitude.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Music, via YouTube :o)

I find myself in the mood to share a few songs I've been enjoying lately.
(I haven't done this for a while, have I?)

The featured artist today ;o) is Anna Ternheim, a Swedish singer/songwriter.  

First, here's her version of "Come Fly with Me":

Then here's "Quiet Night", which is the theme song for a series of Swedish crime/mystery films:

I'm not sure what motivated the choice for some of the photos in that video. Obviously a couple of them are of Anna Ternheim herself, and I thought maybe the rest were Swedish scenery-- but then there's that sci-fi/fantasy-looking one. Your guess is as good as mine. (g) Just something pretty to look at while you listen, I guess.

Next-- "Lovers Dream". (Or maybe "Lover's Dream"? I'm not sure...)

I think I prefer the version where she sings solo, but I can't find a video of it. . . It's very similar to this one in sound-- but she sings all the lyrics herself. (. . .Because that's what people do in solos. . . (g))

I love the musical saw in that last video. It's such a unique instrument.

This man manages to make it sound incredibly like a violin:

. . .But most of the time, I think it has a more unusual, distinctive sound with more vibrato (as in "Lovers Dream"). I'm having a hard time finding a good video of that, right now. . . plus I'm getting bored with the search. . . and this suddenly seems very familiar.  Might I have written about the musical saw before? Oh well. If I don't remember, maybe you won't, either. . .

Monday, November 16, 2009

I know what *I* want for Christmas. . . ;o)

Unfortunately, he won't be "out" (ahem-- take that as you will. . .) until April, so I'll just have to wait 'til then-- wait and save my pennies, because from the sound of it, he's going to be one expensive piece of plastic.

Here he is, in all his fabulosity-- It's the "Palm Beach Sugar Daddy" Ken doll!

Isn't he dreamy? ;o)

I don't know about you, but I just love a guy who can pull off this frou-frou girly-man look!
 Admit it, gals, you're drooling over your keyboards, right?

 . . . Have you finished staring in disbelief yet?  If not, I can wait another minute or two.

Done now?  Ok!  :o)

The expression on "Sugar Daddy's" face gives me the creeps, and those sandals are. . . Well, let's just say I don't like 'em.  As for the floral swimming trunks, the less said, the better.   And the rest of his wardrobe. . . Is it just me, or does it look like Maria from The Sound of Music whipped up his jacket from the remnants of her bedroom curtains, while she was making play clothes for the children?

. . .Only she saved the mismatched, ugly neon lime curtain for Sugar Daddy Ken.  (I can't blame her.  He certainly deserves no better than neon lime.)  

Apparently this is old news, but it was new to me.  The people behind the doll say he's called "Sugar Daddy" because he is "daddy" to a dog named "Sugar".

. . . Yeah.  Sure.  Whatever you say.

Oh, but they also mention that he's really intended for adult collectors (hence the outrageous price of $70-$82).

So which is it?  You can either play wide-eyed innocent and name the puppy "Sugar" or you can say he's designed for a strange bunch of adults who really, really need a metrosexual sugar daddy Ken to complete their collection.  You can't have it both ways. 

Well, this has been pointless, but just consider yourself lucky that it's not a political post.  ;o)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Tropical Storm Ida

Looks like we'll be getting a visit from Tropical Storm Ida. 

This shouldn't be too bad for us, since we're not right on the beach or in a flood zone, but we still might get some wind and rain out of it.  The main worry (to me, at least) is that this type of weather can produce isolated tornadoes.  It's not all that likely, but it's something to be aware of.  On the other hand, maybe Ida will have fizzled away to practically nothing by the time she gets here.  It's certainly possible.  We've had tropical weather before that was nowhere near as bad as some of our summertime afternoon thunderstorms.   

Some local schools are closed today, as is the county courthouse.  I'm glad I checked their juror information message again last night.  It would've been seriously annoying to drive all the way there, only to find the courthouse locked up and empty!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

New Glasses

If you read my Twitter tweets or my Project 365 blog or keep up with my Flickr photostream, you probably already know that our new glasses came on Saturday.  I thought I'd write a little about our experience with Zenni Optical for future reference and in case any of you might be interested in how it worked out. 

We were surprised to get them on Saturday, because the last update I'd read online placed them in California.  Even so, they were still a few days later than I'd expected.  I thought the website said they usually arrived within two weeks.  Now I think I may have misunderstood.  Maybe they usually ship in two weeks-- in which case they were almost exactly right on schedule.  They currently charge a flat rate of $4.95 for shipping & handling, which isn't bad-- especially when you're ordering more than one pair of glasses at a time. 

Our glasses came by USPS.  Each pair was individually packed in frosted translucent plastic cases-- nothing fancy, but good enough to get them here in one piece.  Each pair was also wrapped in a little grey cleaning cloth printed with the company name-- "Zenni". 

New Glasses - M's Pair #1

Now, we haven't taken them to be tested for accuracy, but so far as we can tell, they're perfectly good glasses.  They certainly seem to have gotten the prescriptions right, and they sent the exact frames we selected, too.  (g) 

These days, I've gotten more daring than I once was, when it comes to ordering trhings online-- mostly because you can get such good deals that way.  (Not to mention that sometimes it's the only way to get something that you can't find locally.)  However, choosing glasses frames online still seemed like a bit of a risk.  The website provides all the dimensions of the frames, so we were able to compare them against our old frames and try to visualize how the new ones might compare, but of course there's nothing like being able to try them on and see how they look on you.  It is a little risky, but considering the price of many of the glasses, it might be worth it.  Even if they turn out to look not quite like you'd hoped, you can use them as a back-up pair for emergencies, if nothing else. 

I think we're mostly satisfied with how our choices look "in real life".  It takes a little getting used to seeing myself in new frames, and I'm still adjusting to the fact that the lenses in these frames are smaller than the ones I had before (so the frames are more visible to me as I wear them), but I knew that would be an issue when I made my selections. 

One of my pair-- one of the molded plastic type-- needs a little adjusting.  They sit slightly crooked.  I think it's just a matter of warming them in water and very gently bending them (one of the arms, maybe).  (At least I think I've read online about that before...)  All things considered, though, that's a minor issue. 

The next time we need glasses, I'll definitely be looking online.  If they still have deals as good as the ones we got, I'll order online.

Note:  These were single vision glasses. (I imagine Zenni is just as good at producing bifocals, etc., but I don't have any personal experience ordering those online.  Bifocals and progressives do cost more than single vision glasses, of course, but I'm sure that's true no matter where you buy them.)  Though we got the anti-reflective coating, we decided not to spend more for the thinner (higher index) lenses.   Donald found a site that, based on your individual prescription, translates the difference into actual millimeters.  For both of us, the difference was miniscule-- certainly not worth an extra $17 or $37 per pair!

P.S.  If you want to see more photos of the glasses we ordered, check my Flickr photostream.

Jury Duty

An unforeseen side effect of the Project 365 blog seems to be that I don't post as often on this blog-- but maybe there have been some other contributing factors, as well.  I'll try to write more often so that I don't fall completely out of the habit.

- - - - - - -

I went Monday to my first day of jury duty.  It took longer than usual for them to get down to business, apparently because they're implementing some new system and learning its ins and outs.  For one thing, more jurors came than were needed, which seems strange, given that they are the ones sending out the summonses.  (That word just looks wrong...)  Maybe they usually expect a certain number of no-shows, and this group just happened to be more law-abiding than most.  In any case, they asked multiple times for anyone who'd rather defer their jury duty to a later date to come forward.  It seems that most people felt just as I did-- I'm already here now, so let's just get this over with.-- because it took several tries to finally get enough volunteers.  Now, if they'd offered to simply excuse some of us, there'd have been a stampede.  ;o) 

After we were finally divided into panels (and after a grand jury was selected-- just like last time), my panel and a few others were sent to sit outside a courtroom.  (It just happened to be the courtroom of the judge I remember from my last time as a juror.)  So, then we were left to wait some more, all the while looking forward to being asked questions about ourselves.  (Last time, at least two of the cases involved alcohol, so the questions seemed to revolve around whether or not we drank-- why or why not-- whether or not we had a problem with people who drink-- etc.  Honestly, that process of answering questions about myself in front of a room full of strangers was something I wasn't looking forward to.)  However, it turned out that we never even got inside the courtroom, as a plea deal was struck.

The clerk (or whatever the proper term is) explained that this situation was not unusual and that our being there was still important, because it helps get things moving by inducing people to plead, etc., etc.  It sounded very familiar, because I heard it once last time (only that time, I think it was after we'd gone through the striking process and I'd been selected as a juror), and I found myself wondering if that's just something they say to make us feel better about the fact that we've just wasted a half hour of our day by sitting silently in a hallway.  (g)  I guess it's true, but you wonder if those people were planning to plead all along and were just waiting until the last possible moment.  Procrastinating.  Darn lazy criminals!  ;o)

Anyway, we were released for the rest of the day after that, and for Tuesday and Wednesday, my panel has not been required to show up.  I'm sure it's only a matter of time, though, and we have to keep checking every evening for a period of two weeks (though of course they don't hold court on weekends or holidays).  At least now I've refamiliarized myself with the area around the courthouse, so it'll be less stressful getting there next time, and that first day is the worst, as far as waiting in lines goes. 

- - - - - - -

One more thing about jury duty-- something I remembered from last time and which still strikes me as odd. . .  Before swearing in the jurors, the judge asks if anyone feels that they can't serve on a jury for reasons of religious or personal conviction.  (I suppose these would be people who feel that they are incapable of judging another person or finding him/her guilty.  I can understand it, I guess, but I think it's a good thing for society that most of us don't feel that's a luxury we can afford.  Someone has to be willing to pass judgment or there'd be absolute chaos.)  Four people stepped forward and had to have semi-private discussions with the judge and a few other officials (away from the rest of us, but at the front of the room, in clear view).

Next, the judge lists a number of other reasons why we might be unable to serve.  Some of the reasons are as innocent as failing to meet a minimum age or the requirement of having lived in the county for the past six months.  Then there are things like felonies or having been convicted of crimes of moral turpitude.  You're instructed not to rise or raise your hand until after the judge has finished the list-- obviously in an effort to protect privacy-- but I can't help but look a little differently at those who go to the front of the courtroom after that. . . 

There's no real reason for mentioning this-- just that it feels so strange.  I couldn't help but feel that I should avert my eyes and not look at those people.  Partly out of sympathy, considering how embarrassed I would be to have to go up before all these people and have them stare and wonder about me.  Partly because if any of them are convicted felons, I don't want them mad at me.  ;o)

Also, I wonder why they decided to separate the religious/personal conviction people from the rest. . . Maybe to make it somehow easier for the first group. . .

Well, enough about jury duty.  Next post will probably be about our new glasses. 

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Oh, wow. . .

I think I've figured out my next crochet project!  I can hardly wait to begin!!  

Now, which lucky person on my Christmas gift list is going to get this little gem. . .?  ;o)

Isn't that just incredible?

What were you supposed to do with this "Giant Floor Ball"?  (No, seriously, that's what it's called.  Look closely at the bottom right-hand corner.)  Is it for sitting on?  Decoration only?  Could it be a toy for the children?  Or is it strictly for leaning against, as the model demonstrates?  Don't you just love the look on her face?  There's nowhere she'd rather be than cozied up with her Giant Floor Ball.  It's her favorite place for romantic daydreams.  (Maybe this woman just has odd taste in home decor.  See that figurine on the table behind her?  Well, it's not my taste, at least...)

There are more yarn atrocities from the same source (a book) on this page.  

Privacy in Europe

This story ("Ever-Present Surveillance Rankles the British Public", New York Times) does make RIPA (the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act) sound pretty creepy.
I can understand using this level of surveillance in cases of national security (i.e. suspected terrorists), but does a woman suspected of falsifying her address so that her daughter can attend one school over another really merit that kind of scrutiny?
...Under a law enacted in 2000 to regulate surveillance powers, it is legal for localities to follow residents secretly. Local governments regularly use these surveillance powers — which they “self-authorize,” without oversight from judges or law enforcement officers — to investigate malfeasance like illegally dumping industrial waste, loan-sharking and falsely claiming welfare benefits.

But they also use them to investigate reports of noise pollution and people who do not clean up their dogs’ waste. Local governments use them to catch people who fail to recycle, people who put their trash out too early, people who sell fireworks without licenses, people whose dogs bark too loudly and people who illegally operate taxicabs.
. . .

One of the biggest criticisms of the law is that the targets of surveillance are usually unaware that they have been spied on.

. . .

“They promptly ushered us out of the room,” she said. “As I stood outside the door, they said, ‘You go and tell your friends that these are the powers we have.’ ”

Soon afterward, their daughter was admitted to the school. Ms. Paton began pressing local officials on their surveillance tactics.

“I said, ‘I want to come in and talk to you,’ ” she said. “ ‘How many people were in the car? Were they men or women? Did they take any photos? Does this mean I have a criminal record?’”

No one would answer her questions, Ms. Paton said.

And in a related story from the Associated Press ("Lutefisk and loot: Tax records open in Norway"), we read about a different type of invasion of privacy.

In a move that would be unthinkable elsewhere, tax authorities in Norway have issued the "skatteliste," or "tax list," for 2008 to the media under a law designed to uphold the country's tradition of transparency.

The article goes on to share the (non-tax-sheltered) wealth of a few high-profile Norwegians-- but this "tax list" isn't just for the rich and/or famous. Everyone's on it.

Many media outlets use the tax records to produce their own searchable online databases. In the database of national broadcaster NRK, you can type a subject's name, hit search and within moments get information on what that person made last year, what was paid in taxes and total wealth. It also compares those figures with Norway's national averages for men and women, and that person's city of residence.

Defenders of the system say it enhances transparency, deemed essential for an open democracy.

"Isn't this how a social democracy ought to work, with openness, transparency and social equality as ideals?" columnist Jan Omdahl wrote in the tabloid Dagbladet. He acknowledged, however, that many treat the list like "tax porno" — furtively checking the income of neighbors or co-workers.

Critics say the list is actually a threat to society.

"What each Norwegian earns and what you have in wealth is a private matter between the taxpayer and the government," said Jon Stordrange, director of the Norwegian Taxpayer's Association.

Besides providing criminals with a useful tool to find prime targets, he said the list generates playground taunts of my-dad-is-richer-than-your-dad.

"The children of people with low wages are being teased about it in the schools," Stordrange said Thursday. "People with low salaries are being met with comments at the grocery store, 'How can you live on these low wages?'"

The information had been available to media until 2004, when a more conservative government banned the publication of tax records. Three years later, a new, more liberal government reversed the legislation and also made it possible for media to obtain tax information digitally and disseminate it online.

. . .

Most other Europeans, including residents of Britain, Italy and the Netherlands, have very different attitudes toward transparency and privacy and would be horrified at such a setup. Last week, the Spanish government for the first time released information on how much each Cabinet member is worth, but data on ordinary citizens is still private.

In neighboring Sweden, anyone can order a printed edition of the Taxation Calendar, which lists the earnings of people in mid- to upper-income brackets. The information is also available online, although Swedes whose financial information has been searched are notified by mail of who checked their details.

Christine Ingebritsen, a professor at the University of Washington, said the Norwegian tax list exemplifies a time-tested, distinctly Scandinavian custom of egalitarianism.

"This is how you make sure that you're being legitimate in the eyes of the community — you show that the wealth of a CEO isn't off the charts," she said, adding that unlike the U.S., Norway "places the wealth and health of all as a priority above the individual success stories."

Still, there are plenty of opponents of the list in Norway. A 2007 survey by research group Synovate revealed that only 32 percent of the Norwegian public wanted the tax list published, and 46 percent were against it.

Georg Apnes, director of Norway's Data Inspectorate and a member of the Conservative Party, called publishing and combing through the tax list "repulsive" and "disgusting."

"It reflects very poorly on our culture and on our society," he said on an NRK morning news program.

So, any bets on how long it'll be before the U.S. has its own versions of RIPA and the "Tax List"?

Friday, October 23, 2009

To Anyone Considering an Eskie for an Indoor Pet

The Eskie.

As a puppy, adorable. . .

baby seal

As a grown dog, beautiful. . .

Trixie, Open-Faced

A (mostly) loyal and (sometimes) obedient companion. . .

Trixie's Smile

Energetic. . .  Intelligent. . . Athletic. . .

Trixie Frisbee collage

And a constant source of amusement and company. . .

Dirty Dog

They are also little fur-shedding machines.

If you have an indoor Eskie, you can expect long, frizzledy white hairs on the sofa, rugs/carpet, and your clothes*.  Dog-hair "tumbleweeds" will mysteriously appear in corners (particularly in hard-floored rooms).  Your belongings will seem to generate not only a layer of dust, but also of dog hair.  And your vacuum cleaner will fill up faster than you ever thought possible.

(A word of warning:  If you're squeamish about hair and/or fur, it may be best if you just skip the next photo. . .)

This is our vacuum cleaner's canister after I vacuumed one room.  (I know because I emptied it before I started.)   

Admittedly it is a decent-sized room-- the room we use most-- the room Trixie spends 95% of her time in-- and a carpeted room.  But still.  I think you'll agree that this is. . . impressive (?)-- especially considering that it's been only a week since the last time I vacuumed this room-- and this time I didn't bother to hook up the attachments to vacuum the sofa and all the little nooks and crannies.

I guess I can't blame it all on Trixie, but she's responsible for the majority of it.  It's just part of what you have to expect when you keep this kind of dog inside the house.

And yes, she's worth it.

Trixie, Skeptical

*When dressing to go out, you have a few options.  Don't wear dark colors, change at the last minute-- and don't you dare sit down or handle the dog after changing-- or have someone de-fur you on your way out the door.  Well, there's one other option-- decide that you don't care if people know that you have a sheddy dog at home.  Wear your dog-hair-covered clothes with pride!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"Whatever you do, don't look down!"

I've switched over to Blogger's new editing whatever-you-call-it. . . (Interface?)  Anyway, everything looks different!  (Surprise, surprise.)  Most of the icons are different, and there's this handy-dandy "strikethrough" button so that now I no longer have to type in the html code.  This may might could possibly will definitely lead to overuse (as if I didn't already have my hands full with parentheses and dashes!).  I'm not sure whether or not I like this new system. . .  Guess I'll give it a few posts before reverting to the old one.

So, on to the real reason for this post. . .

It's a really important subject, of course.  Otherwise, I wouldn't even be writing about it, because I only ever write about big, important, deep subjects.  Like the weather, and puppy dog pictures, and-- oh, ok, it's just a puppy dog picture.  But it's not Trixie this time, so it's a palate-cleansing photo, for those of you who were getting a wee bit tired of Eskie photos.  (Seriously, though, if you don't like Eskie photos, you're not welcome here.  Go now, and never return.  We don't want your kind 'round these parts.)

Mainly I'm writing because I wanted something else at the top of my blog instead of that "Illegal Alien" costume.  So here it is-- something else!

It's a photo of a calendar we have in the kitchen.  The photo for October is this brown puppy sitting on a pile of (what appear to be) chocolate bars. 

I get the "joke"-- it's a "chocolate" (chocolate-colored... brown) cocker spaniel sitting on chocolate bars.  (I'll wait a moment while you finish laughing merrily at the cleverness of it all. ;o))  Maybe I'm just being difficult, but it seems like an odd set-up for a canine portrait, considering that chocolate is poisonous to dogs-- even potentially deadly.  It's kind of like if Anne Geddes were to pose an infant amidst an arrangement of bottles marked with skulls and crossbones-- or delicately nestled into a big ol' pile of cyanide pills.  (Kind of, but not quite.)  It's just weird.

. . .Well, that's it, I guess.

I thought about regaling you all with an amusing anecdote about how, as a child, I thought that little decorative pieces-- you know, ceramic figurines, trinket boxes and the like-- were called "white nots" (or maybe "white knots"-- I wasn't completely clear on the spelling).  Mom must've told me they were "what-nots", but I misunderstood. . .

Yeah, I thought about sharing that story, but then I realized that it wasn't actually a story, per se, and that bringing it up would be pointless (though only marginally less interesting than a photo of a puppy sitting on candy bars).  And that being the case, it's time to bring this entry to a close.  (g)

(Yes, I'm in that goofy mood again.  It comes, from time to time.)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mustn't Offend the Illegals!

The headline reads "Immigrants Not Amused by 'Illegal Alien' Halloween Costume".

And here's the costume that's supposedly in such bad taste:

"He didn't just cross a border, he crossed a galaxy!" according to the costume's description. "He's got his green card, but it's from another planet! Sure to get some laughs, the Illegal Alien Adult Costume includes an orange prison-style jumpsuit with 'Illegal Alien' printed on the front, an alien mask and a 'green card.'"
Apparently, Target is removing the costume from its website after receiving "several" complaints. How many "several" is in this case, I don't know. The important thing is that they've snatched it off the site, and furthermore, the spokesman ingratiatingly claims that they never intended to sell it at all. It was on the website by mistake! (How mysterious! Must be part of an Evil Right-Wing Plot.)

Now the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles will probably be "target"-ing the other retailers that still sell the costume online. (If you're looking for one to wear this year ;o) try,,,, and but you'd better hurry, before they, too, realize the "mistake" that's been made and yank them down.)

If they're trying to say that immigrants (in general) are "not amused", then I don't believe them. I'm pretty sure my husband-- an immigrant-- wouldn't have a problem with this. But then again, he's here legally. (And at least when he was first living here, he was still termed an "alien"-- a legal alien, but an alien all the same. Anyone living in a country where s/he does not claim citizenship is an alien. I always thought it was kind of fun being able to say-- not that I ever actually said it, but you get the point ;o)-- that I was married to an alien. (g))

What they actually mean is that (some) illegal immigrants are offended-- or, even more likely, some Americans are offended-- those who for whatever reason feel that we should throw open (even more widely) our borders and put down a welcome mat. They're the same ones who feel that it's worth hushing-up the masses the avoid offending the few. Free speech can go to. . . well, you know where.

Some years ago, maybe we should have looked into changing certain regulations regarding temporary work visas, etc.-- but at this point, a lot of us are fed up with the situation. Not the least of that is anger with the inaction of our own government to act upon laws already in place. Act with humanity, yes, but still act! Don't just sit on your hands-- or worse yet, bind the hands of even local law enforcement officials-- and act as though nothing's out of the ordinary. People are sick of feeling that if anyone dares speak up for existing laws (or see the logic behind them), s/he will be accused of racism, bigotry, and every other mean and petty thing.

If people can get a laugh out of this silly Halloween costume, I say let them have it. I don't see what all the fuss is about. It's not that original an idea-- not that "edgy", is it? As for anyone offended by the costume, I recommend cultivating a sense of humor. It really does make life more pleasant.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Project 365, Here I Come!

After a while of watching some of my contacts on Flickr participate in "Project 365", I've decided to start my own project. The plan is to take (at least) one photo a day for a year!

I'll be posting the photos on my Flickr photostream (in this set) as well as in a blog devoted specifically to the project. (There's a link to the blog over in the sidebar, too, to make it easy to locate in the future.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Meaher State Park

Just some snippets of our walk on the boardwalk at Meaher State Park, set to "Beyond This Moment" by Patrick O'Hearn.

(This video is available in HD on Vimeo.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Something for Everyone

Well, there's something for everyone if everyone is interested in eyeglasses, dog grooming, nature trails, crochet scarves, "shoe benches", or any of the other fascinating subjects included in this entry.

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Last night, Donald and I finally got around to ordering some new glasses.

It's about time. I knew it had been a while-- maybe even over a year-- since we'd had our eye exams and got the prescriptions, but I had no idea (until I pulled out the papers and read the date) that it had been nearly two years.

Seriously, though-- this is ridiculous! I know times flies and all that, but nearly two years?! (Minus a couple of months. The exams took place early December 2007.) That's just. . . scary.

Life keeps slipping away, one day at a time. . .

Well, moving right along. . . (g)

We're trying Zenni Optical, an online source with exceptionally low prices and (as far as we can tell) a pretty good reputation for quality, too. You can get a pair of glasses (no extra frills, but perfectly good glasses) for a mere eight dollars (+ a flat rate shipping charge of $4.95). If you're in the mood to splurge ;o) there are other options (glasses for $15, $19, and so on-- tinted lenses-- anti-glare coatings-- etc.). Honestly, though, some of the $8 models were my favorites from the bunch.

Our new glasses should arrive within a couple of weeks. I'm excited! It's been more years than I care to admit since I had new glasses-- mostly because I rarely thought about it. (And when I did, I dreaded the hassle of the exam and picking out new frames and ended up putting it off.) These old ones are showing their age and are ready for retirement.

I'll probably take photos of the new glasses once they arrive. (Thought I'd give you all something to look forward to. (g))

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I think the hummingbirds (or at least "our" hummingbirds) have moved on to their next stop. We haven't seen them in two or three days (and I had already heard that they generally leave this area around the middle of October). The patio seems emptier without them. . . Time to dig out and fill our other bird feeders, I guess!

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The hummingbirds may have left us, but my sister and brother-in-law, who have been living in the Montgomery area, are planning to move back to the coast soon! I know my family will be happy to have them close by again, so that we can see more of one another.

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Over the weekend, we gave Molly another haircut. It's not 100% done (Is it ever?), but it is much better than it was before. Part of the time, she was fairly well-behaved. ("I don't really want to do this right now... *whine whine* Why do we have to do this? I really don't like this very-- Oh! Is that peanut butter you have there? Well, I don't mind if I do!") Part of the time, she was not. ("Mess with my feet, will you? I'll show you! I'll somehow manage to lie on top of all four feet at the same time so you can't reach them! Nanny-nanny boo-boo!" . . .Or even "Ohmygosh ohmygosh OHMYGOSH!! They're making me lie on my side!! NOOOO! NOOOO! I shall surely perish a most excrutiating death if I am made to lie on my side!! NOOOOOOO!!")

As we struggled to cut her hair (and nothing but her hair)-- sometimes against her very vehement wishes-- I renewed my vow to never have another dog of such a grooming-intensive breed. It simply doesn't work out well.

If I could go back in time, maybe I could familiarize her with the grooming process when she was still an impressionable puppy. Maybe then it wouldn't be such an agonizing ordeal to brush and cut her hair on her legs, feet, and underside. Maybe she would never get in such a state that I feel terrible, guilty helplessness over her mats and tangles. Then again, maybe there's nothing we could've done to make it easier. Either way, from here on out, I don't see myself ever owning a spaniel (or similarly haired breed) again.

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Also over the weekend, we took a quick trip to Meaher State Park (on the Baldwin County side of the Causeway). It was ok, but not as nice as the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail(s). There's simply not as much trail there, for one thing, but my opinion might also have been influenced by the hot, muggy weather. (We are still waiting for autumn to get here and stay for more than a couple days at a time.)

On the boardwalk, we saw lots of small crabs, some water fowl, and a raccoon. No turtles, snakes, or alligators, though. (I wouldn't have wanted to see them too close up, anyway.) I did a little filming there, so I'll try to edit and post that soon. In the meantime, here are a few photos that we took:



Raccoon Caught in the Act


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Donald added a couple of doors to the "shoe bench" by our kitchen door. (He built the bench years ago using leftovers from the bookshelf he built.)

After years of having it just as it was-- always right next to the door we use most, to house a few pairs of our most-frequently-used shoes-- it suddenly seemed odd to have a bunch of shoes in close proximity and open view of the table where our guests sit and eat. Isn't that the way these things usually work? You go a long time without noticing something, but once you see it, you realize that Something Must Be Done. So Donald found a piece of wood that would work-- the kitchen-sink-shaped cutout the builders made in our counter-top-- and with a little sawing, sanding, spackling, and painting, the shoe bench had two doors. We filled the middle compartment with a basket, and the result looks much more "finished" than it did a few weeks ago!

Here's a "before" photo:

New Beadboard Wainscoting

And a couple of "after":

Shoe Bench

Shoe Bench

That'll do nicely!

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I think the last time I mentioned crochet on this blog was back when I had decided to try a scarf that was basically a bunch of Solomon's knots (love knots, lover's knots). I gave it a try, and after the first or second row didn't know what to do next. It was night, and I was tired, so that may have accounted for it. Whatever the reason, I couldn't see where/how I was supposed to attach the next row into the previous one. I'm going to give it another try-- and maybe seek advice if I still can't figure it out on my own-- but in the meantime, I happened upon a different scarf pattern.

The Luna Lovegood Scarf (pattern by Melissa Helton) is so called because it's based on an accessory worn by a character of that name in a Harry Potter movie. I liked the looks of the scarf, and none of the stitches seemed too difficult for a beginner. Overall, I'm happy with how it turned out. It is a little wider than I pictured it, but that's not really a problem with a scarf. I think my beginner status showed itself in a couple of spots, but I can definitely wear it without wrapping it up to my eyes to protect my identity. ;o)

Luna Lovegood Scarf

(There are a few more photos on Flickr, if you'd like another look.)

Oh, and this was also my first attempt at blocking. I still don't know if I did it perfectly, but I do think it made a positive difference in the shaping and arrangement of the stiches, so that's good. At least I have a little blocking experience under my belt, now.

Scarf stats:

Yarn: Red Heart Sport, "Aran Fleck"
I used a little less than two 2.5 oz (70g) skeins.

Hook: G (I think...)
That's not what the pattern called for, but I knew it didn't really matter that much, seeing as it's a scarf, and I didn't have whatever hook the pattern did call for.

Time: I don't know. I don't really time my crafty pursuits. It's supposed to be fun, and I don't like timing things. Makes me feel like I'm in a race. . . It probably took longer than it "should" have, but I'm still a beginner.

Approximately 5.5 inches (14cm) wide and 78 inches (198cm) long.

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Last week I received a jury summons. (I mentioned it on Twitter, so if you read those updates, you already know about this. But in that case, you already knew about some of the other things I've written about, too. Let this be a lesson to you. . . or something. . .)

The last time I got a jury summons was my first time to get a summons-- the first time I'd ever been notified that I might potentially be selected to sit on a jury. (When was that, exactly? I probably ought to try to figure it out in case they ask. Seems like they did ask something about previous jury experience, last time. . .) So, seeing as it was my first time seeing The Law up close and personal, I was interested, nervous, and kind of excited, even though I knew it was my civic duty to be completely bored and annoyed by the prospect of sitting on a jury. Everyone is (or so you'd think, based on what you usually hear and see people saying).

I happened to see a (2nd? 3rd?) cousin on my first day there, and she seemed bored and nonchalant. Unfortunately (?) I don't find it so easy to be bored and nonchalant. ("A bundle of nerves" might be closer to it, actually. This makes certain aspects of life more difficult, no doubt, and I'll never be really "cool", but at least it's probably also more dramatic and interesting this way.) In any case, being interested/excited made the first part of the experience. . . well, interesting and exciting. As time passed, some of that wore off. By the time it was over, I was ready for it to be over.

This time around, I'm not sure how I feel about it. I think I'd rather not have to go, but since I don't really have a choice, I'm trying to feel interested in it. It is interesting, when you're actually sitting on a jury and not just sitting or standing around waiting to be selected. I honestly feel a little sorry for people who don't feel even the least bit interested in the prospect of a brief period of jury duty. It must take a lot to keep them occupied and interested* in life in general. . .

*Note to self: Practice using synonymns for "interested" and "interesting". ;o)

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Well, that's more than enough blogging for one day! ;o)