Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Norwegian Village in Faux Tilt Shift

Donald converted this photo from the overlook in Aurland, Norway. . .

Aurland Fjordhotell

. . . to a faux tilt shift image:

Faux Tilt Shift

Such a fun effect!

Ridiculous Name Meme

Someone newly named Crusty Farkledunkin (aka, my mother) sent us one of those "use this code to figure out your new silly name" e-mails.

According to the code, my new name should be Goober Pottyshorts, née Farkledunkin, and Donald would be Mr. Sloopy Pottyshorts.

"The Pottyshorts request the pleasure of your company..."
"Dear Mr. and Mrs. Pottyshorts..."

Hm. Compared to that, our real surname has never sounded better! ;o) (But then again, almost anything would!)

Trixie is now "Dorky", and Molly is "Boobie". (Uh oh. I shudder to think of the Google keyword combos that are going to direct people to this post...)

If you want to know what your own ridiculous new name is, use the code below:

The following is excerpted from a children's book, Captain Underpants And
the Perilous Plot Professor Poopypants, by Dave Pilkey, in which the evil
Professor forces everyone to assume new names...

1. Use the third letter of your first name to determine your New first name:

a = snickle
b = doombah
c = goober
d = cheesey
e = crusty
f = greasy
g = dumbo
h = farcus
i = dorky
j = doofus
k = funky
l = boobie
m = sleezy
n = sloopy
o = fluffy
p = stinky
q = slimy
r = dorfus
s = snooty
t = tootsie
u = dipsy
v = sneezy
w = liver
x = skippy
y = dinky
z = zippy

2. Use the second letter of your last name to determine the first half of
your new last name:

a = dippin
b = feather
c = batty
d = burger
e = chicken
f = barffy
g = lizard
h = waffle
i = farkle
j = monkey
k = flippin
l = fricken
m = bubble
n = rhino
o = potty
p = hamster
q = buckle
r = gizzard
s = lickin
t = snickle
u = chuckle
v = pickle
w = hubble
x = dingle
y = gorilla
z = girdle

3. Use the third letter of your last name to determine the second half of
your new last name:
a = butt
b = boob
c = face
d = nose
e = hump
f = breath
g = pants
h = shorts
i = lips
j = honker
k = head
l = tush
m = chunks
n = dunkin
o = brains
p = biscui ts
q = toes
r = doodle
s = fanny
t = sniffer
u = sprinkles
v = frack
w = squirt
x = humperdinck
y = hiney
z = juice

Monday, September 28, 2009

Autumn, Swing, Snakes, Crochet, & Music

Unless the meteorologists on all the local news shows have colluded to play an elaborate (and unspeakably cruel) prank on us (hey, it could happen), we are poised on the precipice of sweet, blessed relief from heat and humidity. Yes, tomorrow it will finally feel like autumn!! Highs in the low 80s instead of at or near 90! Humidity plummeting down to 30-50% (in the afternoon, at least)! I'm almost getting choked up just thinking about it! ;o)

- - - - - - -

Donald put most of the swing together over the weekend. There are only a couple of things left to do before it's ready to hang. We're putting it by the kitchen door, on the covered patio. I'll post a photo or two once it's in place.

- - - - - - -

Saturday, I found yet another snake (this one a barely living corn snake) caught in the caulk around one of our windows (the bay window seems to be the most popular), and while Donald sprayed it with water to release it, he found a very, very dead one (type undetermined) that I didn't know about. That makes two living and three dead (that we know of...).

I've tried googling it with no results, but surely we can't be the only ones to have this happen. Whatever caulk they used around the exterior edges of our windows-- something clear-- silicone?-- gets very sticky on hot summer days, and I guess the little snake slithers up along the sides of the windows (either to use the friction of the brick edging or to keep hidden), where it then gets stuck along the whole length of its body. However or why ever it's happening, it's creepy and yucky, and I'd be happier if I didn't keep coming across dead snakes glued to our house-- even if they are small.

- - - - - - -

A while ago, in an effort to re-acquaint myself with basic crochet, I crocheted several dishcloths. I still haven't woven in the ends and given them a whirl in the sink, but making them did the trick of getting me interested in crochet, again.

I spent part of the weekend (ok, way too much of the weekend) looking through free patterns online (and hoarding them away for future use), and I found a few that looked especially interesting. Now I just have to match the yarn in my stash to the patterns. Oh, and figure out how to translate the patterns into finished objects. My crochet know-how is still very limited, but the only way I'll learn new stitches is to try them.

I think I'm going to start with this scarf-- or this one, which is basically the same thing-- but that's only if I can figure out the "love knot" (aka "lover's knot" or "Solomon's knot"). I gave it a quick try last night, but I didn't quite get it. What I saw before me on my hook didn't resemble the illustrations in the pattern. However, after finding a video and that second pattern, which has more detailed instructions and photos instead of drawings, I feel more confident. I'm going to give it another try, tonight.

I hope I can get it to work. It looks like a fun, quick project, and it would be nice to get some instant gratification, after spending so much time researching patterns.

This is the yarn I'm thinking of using-- Yarn Bee's Sweet Delight Pomp in the Ladybug colorway:

Baby Bee -- Sweet Delight Pomp -- Ladybug

That's the closest I got to representing the colors faithfully (on this monitor, at least). It's a mixture of pale pink, watermelon pink, powder blue, and dark grey.

I'm hoping I'll be able to see soon whether or not this yarn suits the pattern. I get the feeling that variegated yarn has limited uses, since so much of it doesn't look great in crochet (from what I've seen so far). Too much variation just distracts from the pattern. At least if this combination isn't satisfactory, I have an even simpler pattern I can try with it.

- - - - - - -

Musical musings that came up over our weekend:
  • I think it's odd when a song that, melodically speaking, sounds charming and lilting has incongruously violent lyrics. Example: "Arthur McBride". This Irish folk song starts out with a couple of cousins taking a walk on Christmas morning. According to the song (sung in the first person), they come upon some members of the English military, which ends badly, with the bashing in of heads and so forth. It's just a very strange combination of gentle melody and shocking words.
  • Donald introduced me to "The Elephant Song", which is in one of his Swedish books of guitar sheet music. (I suspect this was more popular in Europe than in the U.S. At least, I didn't recognize it. A word of warning, if you haven't already clicked and listened: It has a certain degree of earworminess.) I'm amazed by how many people seem to take this song seriously, considering the ridiculousness of some of the lyrics. For instance: "People kill without regret / Although they fly by jumbo-jet"-- and "Gentle is the elephant /Pulling loads and everything". It feels like it was written by a kid, but then again, a lot of lyrics look silly when you take away their melodies.
  • Wooster's version of "Puttin' on the Ritz" is always good for a laugh. (For optimum amusement, you should first know how the song is supposed to sound. Ok, or like this. (g))

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Politics Yet Again

Skip at will.
(Like you were waiting for my "permission"... (g))

- - - - - - -

Kirk To Obama: Withdraw Grants To Libyan Charities
"$400,000 is to be split between charities run by Gadhafi family members."
"Just weeks after the Gadhafi family celebrated the return of a terrorist responsible for the murders of 189 Americans, the U.S. taxpayer should not be asked to reward them with $400,000," Kirk wrote to the president.
The insulting display of Megrahi's hero's welcome definitely makes this "charitable donation" even more offensive-- but even if that hadn't happened, what are we doing giving money to Gadhafi-run Libyan charities when we're apparently running on fumes in our own country? (I'm not in a charitable mood, lately.)

- - - - - - -

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman on one-party autocracy (known by some as dictatorship):
"One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonabley enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century."
So inspiring!

- - - - - - -

If you aren't already sick and tired of Obama's apologist attitude-- No, not apologizing for himself, silly. Apologizing on behalf of the wicked United States, of course!-- then try this article dissecting his UN speech. Guaranteed to tick you right off.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Incredible (and Worrying) Video

Just saw this on Michelle Malkin's site:

Edit: The video has been removed. It's probably available elsewhere, but I'm too lazy-- er, busy to hunt it up. Basically, it showed a class of elementary school students rapping/singing about how wonderful "mm mm mm, Barack Hussein Obama" is. Part of it was set to the tune of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic", and one line was "borrowed" from the classic Sunday School song, "Jesus Loves the Little Children", with Obama substituted for Jesus.

If this happened in my (nonexistent) child's class, the teacher, principal, school board, superintendent, and so on would be getting an earful, the first I heard of it. (Plus I'd probably move him/her into another class... or a different school... or begin homeschooling.)

It's enough to make you feel physically ill.

Michelle Malkin writes today about the origins of the video.

The person filming the rap/song is someone named Charisse Carney-Nunes, and the auditorium has also been identified-- B. Bernice Young Elementary School in Burlington Township, NJ. (Yeah, I somehow figured it wasn't anywhere local. (g))

Charisse Carney-Nunes, "a graduate of Harvard Law School, where she was a schoolmate f President Obama", is the author of a 2009 book titled I Am Barack Obama, and there's a copy of it on an easel at the left-hand edge of the video.

. . . Still waiting to hear who "okayed" this charming (and oh-so-educational) event, and whether or not the parents of the children involved were aware of how their sons and daughters were spending the day.

A Trip Through the IKEA Catalog

I love looking at photos of organized spaces. Pantries, mud rooms, and entryways! Hooks, shelves, jars, and boxes! Tantalizing peeks into partially (artistically) opened drawers and cabinets! Those photographs are somehow fascinating. (Larger versions of these photos are just a click away...)

(Ok, I'll admit it. I like to look at "home" photographs in general, even if they're not focused on organization. I also am extremely fond of House Hunters and a handful of house-flipping and -decorating programs.)

For someone who loves the clean look of organization, though, my own ability to keep things organized is sometimes lacking. Of course, no-one (or let's err on the side of caution and say "hardly anyone") keeps his/her home as perfectly/artfully arranged as the rooms presented in many catalog and magazine photos.

There are lots of white-spined books in these showrooms-- probably because white is not distracting and goes with anything. Then there are the photos where some of the books just happen to match the decor of the room. Almost as though they had been carefully chosen for that very reason. . . Like these touches of blue that go with the painted wainscoting:

Coordinating colors in the furniture, flooring, and wall art of the room, I can accept. (I pay some attention to those things, myself.) But what are the chances that the books in the bookcase-- or the clothing stored in the closet-- would magically fit into that particular room's palette? (Unless this person is completely, unhealthily obsessed with a certain color scheme. "No. I keep telling you, I can't buy carrots. The orange just doesn't 'go' in our kitchen.") The results are attractive, but artificial. As much as I like the look of those perfect, photoshoot-ready rooms, I'm just not prepared to arrange my entire life around the color of the family room rug-- or sofa-- or what-have-you.

- - - - - -

Interesting (?) side note:
Years ago, while browsing a book about the "shabby chic" style, I was amazed to see that the author actually suggested purchasing cosmetics (for example) in colors that coordinate with the room where they'll be kept.

Kind of like this, I guess:

Note the "pretty" toiletries in glass dispensers? And see how they're all either white/clear, acid green, or gold? Now, that takes some serious devotion-- especially if you do it in real life and aren't just putting on a temporary show for a photograph or sales display.

- - - - - -

Then we have photos like the one below:

It's a pretty room-- so fresh and open, with all the windows and the white paint, curtains, and bedding. The wall of green houseplants really gives it a little extra something, doesn't it?

But then you begin to wonder who's going to keep those plants watered, fed, cleaned, etc. Some of them are 'way up there. . . Who's going to enjoy the plants when they're five inches from the ceiling? No wall of fresh green houseplants for me.

- - - - - -

If you haven't been to my Flickr photostream in a while, there are some recent photos of our non-catalog-worthy (yet (g)) breakfast room/kitchen. I took them mainly to show the progress we've made on our beadboard wainscoting project.

There's still a lot of painting to do. The cabinets will eventually be painted white. (I've written about it too many times to back out now. ;o)) The walls will also be painted, but at this point I can't tell you whether they'll be robin's egg blue or cream/almond/sand. Then there are the hinges and pulls (more on that another time). . . some crown moulding to install. . . and a few smaller projects for revamping the room's furniture/accessories.

. . .Oh, and I just remembered the "tables and chairs" project. . . So I'll probably have the official "before and after" photos ready for you in about two or three years.

Ohhh! The *Incivility of It All*!!

I really don't want to become someone who only blogs politics and/or links (maybe it's already too late), but...

Today I read this article: "Secretary Slams Political 'Trash Talk'".
A Republican member of President Barack Obama's cabinet blistered conservative talk-radio hosts and cable-television news yesterday, saying they have eroded civility and impeded the nation's ability to solve big problems.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told The Dispatch that the level of "harsh discourse in Washington has probably reached an all-time high," and he partly blamed it on "all of this trash talk about the process and about politicians 24/7" on cable television and talk radio.

LaHood referred to criticism Obama received for appearing Sunday on five television news shows to promote his health-care overhaul. The secretary also indicated that even the president's bully pulpit is no match for the cacophony over the airwaves from the political right.

"He can't even compete with all this stuff that people are saying about him, so the idea that he did five interviews on Sunday, that's just minuscule compared to the kind of trash talk that goes on all week prior to that," LaHood said.

"All of this background, all of this trash talk in the background, it does not contribute to civil discourse, and it does not contribute to the government or the country's ability to solve big issues."

. . . I believe the expression I'm looking for here is (clearing throat and assuming my best oratorical tone)--
"Boo hoo. Cry me a river."

Yesterday, LaHood named them [Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck] and Fox News commentator Sean Hannity for diminishing civility. In the rural central-Illinois congressional district LaHood used to represent, he said, Beck, Limbaugh and Hannity dominate the daytime airwaves.

"Now, when you get farmers picking their corn and beans, driving around in their (tractor) cabs listening to, from 9 to 3, these guys all revved up against Obama, against everything that he's trying to accomplish, that gets people stirred up. They're making an enormous amount of money by trashing politicians and trashing the process."

Referring to cable TV news shows, LaHood said, "Look, you know as well as I do that there's not enough news for 24 hours, so what happens is that these channels keep repeating politicians yelling at one another or people that are all exercised, and that gets people all revved up.

"And it also gives the idea that maybe these politicians don't know what they're doing."

Asked whether he envisions any changes in the media that might reverse the trend of incivility, LaHood replied, "In a word, no. Unless the people decide that the way, you know, (is) to shut it off, turn it off."

Oh, man! This guy should be a stand-up comedian!

"And it also gives the idea that maybe these politicians don't know what they're doing."

Wha..? How on earth could we get a crazy idea like that? Clearly all politicians are geniuses capable of solving the world's problems without any in-put from the rest of us. And they're all so noble, with only our best interests in mind! All any of them want is to help little old me and you. None of them are power-hungry. Not a single one of them is incompetent. And as for the ones who aren't power-hungry or blatantly incompetent, you know that they are incapable of making mistakes (like a mere mortal might be).

I particularly love the way he oh-so-subtly insinuates that those poor idiot farmers-- you know, the ones "picking their corn and beans, driving around in their (tractor) cabs listening to, from 9 to 3, these guys all revved up against Obama, against everything that he's trying to accomplish"-- are too weak in the head to make up their own minds about what they're listening to. (Well, you know what farmers are like. They believe every word they hear-- 'specially if it comes out of the Magic Talkin' Box. No critical thinking ability whatsoever.)

This savvy politician knows that it's bad news when the people get "stirred" or "revved" up-- or woken up.

Hush-a-bye, baby! Close your eyes. Go back to sleep.
Everything's alright. Just leave it to us. We know best.

Friday, September 18, 2009

To Market She Will Go!

It strikes me that this article (from The Washington Post) might be amusing to look back upon, someday:

Hi-Ho, the Derry-O

By Dana Milbank
Friday, September 18, 2009

Let's say you're preparing dinner and you realize with dismay that you don't have any certified organic Tuscan kale. What to do?

Here's how Michelle Obama handled this very predicament Thursday afternoon:

The Secret Service and the D.C. police brought in three dozen vehicles and shut down H Street, Vermont Avenue, two lanes of I Street and an entrance to the McPherson Square Metro station. They swept the area, in front of the Department of Veterans Affairs, with bomb-sniffing dogs and installed magnetometers in the middle of the street, put up barricades to keep pedestrians out, and took positions with binoculars atop trucks. Though the produce stand was only a block or so from the White House, the first lady hopped into her armored limousine and pulled into the market amid the wail of sirens.

Then, and only then, could Obama purchase her leafy greens. "Now it's time to buy some food," she told several hundred people who came to watch. "Let's shop!"

Cowbells were rung. Somebody put a lei of marigolds around Obama's neck. The first lady picked up a straw basket and headed for the "Farm at Sunnyside" tent, where she loaded up with organic Asian pears, cherry tomatoes, multicolored potatoes, free-range eggs and, yes, two bunches of Tuscan kale. She left the produce with an aide, who paid the cashier as Obama made her way back to the limousine.

There's nothing like the simple pleasures of a farm stand to return us to our agrarian roots.

The first lady had encouraged Freshfarm Markets, the group that runs popular farmers markets in Dupont Circle and elsewhere, to set up near the White House, and she helped get the approvals to shut down Vermont Avenue during rush hour on Thursdays. But the result was quite the opposite of a quaint farmers market. Considering all the logistics, each tomato she purchased had a carbon footprint of several tons.

The promotion of organic and locally grown food, though an admirable cause, is a risky one for the Obamas, because there's a fine line between promoting healthful eating and sounding like a snob. The president, when he was a candidate in 2007, got in trouble in Iowa when he asked a crowd, "Anybody gone into Whole Foods lately and see what they charge for arugula?" Iowans didn't have a Whole Foods.

For that reason, it's probably just as well that the first lady didn't stop by the Endless Summer Harvest tent yesterday. The Virginia farm had a sign offering "tender baby arugula" -- hydroponically grown, pesticide free -- and $5 for four ounces, which is $20 a pound.

Obama, in her brief speech to the vendors and patrons, handled the affordability issue by pointing out that people who pay with food stamps would get double the coupon value at the market. Even then, though, it's hard to imagine somebody using food stamps to buy what the market offered: $19 bison steak from Gunpowder Bison, organic dandelion greens for $12 per pound from Blueberry Hill Vegetables, the Piedmont Reserve cheese from Everson Dairy at $29 a pound. Rounding out the potential shopping cart: $4 for a piece of "walnut dacquoise" from the Praline Bakery, $9 for a jumbo crab cake at Chris's Marketplace, $8 for a loaf of cranberry-walnut bread and $32 for a bolt of yarn.

The first lady said the market would particularly appeal to federal employees in nearby buildings to "pick up some good stuff for dinner." Yet even they might think twice about spending $3 for a pint of potatoes when potatoes are on sale for 40 cents a pound at Giant. They could get nearly five dozen eggs at Giant for the $5 Obama spent for her dozen.

But whatever the socioeconomics, there can be no doubt that Obama brought some serious attention to her cause. Hundreds of people crowded the market entrance on I Street as police directed pedestrians to alternative subway entrances. Hundreds braved a light rain and gave a hearty cheer when Obama and her entourage took the stage. "I can't imagine there's been a day in the history of our country when people have been more excited about farmers markets," Mayor Adrian Fenty, Obama's warm-up act, told the crowd.

The first lady, in gray slacks and blue sweater, marveled that the people were "so pumped up" despite the rain. "I have never seen so many people so excited about fruits and vegetables!" she said. (Must be the tender baby arugula.)

She spoke of the global reach of her cause: "The first thing world leaders, prime ministers, kings, queens ask me about is the White House garden. And then they ask about Bo."

She spoke of the fuel fed to the world's most powerful man: "I've learned that when my family eats fresh food, healthy food, that it really affects how we feel, how we get through the day . . . whether there's a Cabinet meeting or whether we're just walking the dog."

And she spoke of her own culinary efforts: "There are times when putting together a healthy meal is harder than you might imagine."

Particularly when it involves a soundstage, an interpreter for the deaf, three TV satellite trucks and the closing of part of downtown Washington.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Three Photos

There's been lots of painting lately. Still no new wall color (and we're still not even settled on what that color will be-- robin's egg blue or almond/cream), but lots of white paint on the beadboard wainscoting.

The sad thing is, I've barely begun to paint. There are so many painting projects on my to-do list that I don't even want to think about it. I don't mind painting a little now and then, but I think I'm going to be sick of it before long. At least painting is a satisfying job. You get to see almost immediate results-- good motivation to keep at it.

Guess What I've Been Doing Lately...

Trixie's still perfecting her grasp of the "stay" command. Meanwhile, she's having fun with an occasional frisbee outing and indoor fetch sessions.

Not a PetSmart Ad.  Really.

Outdoors, it's still warm and humid, and we're still getting at least one shower a day. It's not October yet, so we won't complain too much.

One of our hurricane lilies is blooming...

Hurricane Lily

How Dare We Doubt the Mighty "Mainstream Media"?!

I just read this line in an article from TIME:

Either way, you may not be inclined to believe what we say about numbers, according to a recent poll that found record-low levels of public trust of the mainstream media.

Well, well, well. I could be mistaken, but it sounds like someone's a trifle miffed.

Terribly sorry, Mr. Mainstream-Media* Journalist-Man, but that's just the way it is.
Earn back our trust through trustworthy reporting!

*Note: There are proposals for a change in terminology from "mainstream media" to something else-- primarily to reflect the fact that the so-called mainstream media is no longer mainstream. (Hasn't been for many years, though it's getting worse of late.) It probably won't make much difference what we call them, but I agree that they don't deserve to be called "mainstream".

Monday, September 14, 2009

Random Tidbits

  • Twice on Friday, Trixie barked at a butterfly that landed on the atrium door. Serious, extended barking. She's always been very conscious of insects and alerts us to invading spiders, moths, or crickets, but I think that's the first time she's barked at a butterfly.
  • I am afraid of my pressure cooker. I still use it from time to time, but I don't really trust it not to explode. When I use it, I put Molly outside (her usual spot is in the kitchen) and I don't stay in the room more than I have to, myself. Irrational? Perhaps. But at least we're safe from exploding pressure cookers. ;o)
  • World Celebrities Sing to Stop Global Warming. Oh, those celebrities. Always changing the world. This time, they "joined in recording a song to draw attention to the global warming crisis"-- because, you know, hardly anyone's heard about global warming. (But I thought the new accepted term was "climate change"...)
  • I am:
    • Encouraged by the huge numbers of people who showed up in Washington D.C. on Saturday (to protest the government's ever-increasing grasp for power).
    • Annoyed (though not surprised) by the lack of coverage in much of the media-- or the sad attempts to belittle it by describing the crowds as merely "thousands" or "scores".
    • Encouraged again that apparently a few more people are seeing this bias.
  • After a rainy weekend, we're starting off the workweek with more rain. I would mind the rain less if it was at least a cool rain, but it's still fairly steamy out there. Still, this is September. If I remember correctly ;o) October comes next. Ah, October...
  • Friday evening, I accidentally stepped on a caterpillar. I only knew I did so because (gulp) it made a sharp pop. (shudder) I am still haunted by the memory of that sound.
  • Donald started training Trixie to "stay" in preparation for training her on weave poles. (Those are the the rows of vertical obstacles that dogs in agility competitions "weave" through.) She's definitely got the idea of what "stay" means, but she still needs some work on sticking with it. (Why does she have to stay? She doesn't want to!)
  • We tried out our new board game, The Settlers of Catan, over the weekend. Technically it's not a two-person game, but lots of people have figured out ways to make it work. It was entertaining with two people, but I bet it'll be even better with three or more. We're going to have to invite my family over for a game, one of these weekends. (Family-- you've been warned. ;o))

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Today in Three Photos

Today has been rainy at times, and at other times merely overcast and dreary. With an occasional breeze, it almost feels like autumn. (A bit too warm still-- and too humid-- but getting there...)

Overcast days are nice for mini photographic excursions around the yard. . .


. . .trying out a new board game (Settlers of Catan). . .

Settlers of Catan

. . .and digging holes in the moistened soil. . .

Dirty Dog

(Just ask Trixie.)

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Community Organizers hard at work:

"ACORN Officials Videotaped Telling 'Pimp', 'Prostitute' How to Lie to IRS"

Excerpts (and reactions):
In the videotape, made on July 24, James O'Keefe, a 25-year-old independent filmmaker, posed as a pimp with a 20-year-old woman named "Kenya" who posed as a prostitute while visiting ACORN's office in Baltimore. The couple told ACORN staffers they wanted to secure housing where the woman could continue to maintain a prostitution business.

ACORN — the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now — bills itself as the nation's largest community of low- and moderate-income families "working together for social justice and stronger communities," according to its web site. The organization has been accused by Republicans and conservative activists with fraud in voter registration drives around the country and has been under fire since last year for its support of President Obama and for its planned participation in next year's census.

A spokesman for ACORN, Scott Levenson, when asked to comment on the videotape, said: "The portrayal is false and defamatory and an attempt at gotcha journalism. This film crew tried to pull this sham at other offices and failed. ACORN wants to see the full video before commenting further."

That last bit just makes me laugh. So the fact that the filmmaker's pose (supposedly) failed at other offices should make its success at this office somehow less shocking? Sorry, that's not good enough.

On the videotape, "Kenya" can be seen telling an ACORN staffer that she earns roughly $8,000 a month. The ACORN employee then suggests to "Kenya" that ACORN could submit a tax return for 2008 showing that she made $9,600 for the entire year — instead of $96,000 — and that ACORN would charge "Kenya" $50 instead of the usual $150 fee for preparing her taxes.

Well, isn't that nice of them?

The ACORN staffer can also be seen suggesting that the prostitute list her occupation as a freelance "performing artist."

"It's not dancing, trust me," the "pimp" says.

"But dancing is considered an art," the ACORN staffer replies. "[Exotic dancers] usually go under performing artists, or yeah, they usually go under performing arts, which will be what you are — a performing artist."

The "pimp" later says that he and "Kenya" plan to bring up to 13 "very young" girls from El Salvador to work as prostitutes. Although an ACORN staffer points out their plans are illegal, she also suggests that the girls can be claimed as dependents.

"What if they are going to be making money because they are performing tricks too?" the pimp says.

"If they making money and they are underage, then you shouldn't be letting anybody know anyway," the ACORN staffer says, and laughs. "It's illegal. So I am not hearing this, I am not hearing this. You talk too much. Don't give up no information you're not asked."

The "pimp" then asks ACORN staffers to "promise" not to discriminate against his sex worker because of "who she is and what she does," according to the audiotape.

"If we don't have the information, then how are we going to discriminate?" the ACORN staffer replies. "You see what I am saying?"

At this point, the ACORN staffer must've been thinking s/he was dealing with the stupidest pimp in town. (I still can't believe they fell for this.)

If the girls are under age 16, the ACORN staffer says on the tape, then they are not legally allowed to work in the state, regardless of what they do.

"So it's like they don't even exist?" "Kenya" asks.

"Exactly," the ACORN staffer replies. "It's like they don't even exist."

What a wonderful, inspiring message of HOPE for young girls who may have been sold or tricked into prostitution. As far as these lovely community organizers are concerned, it's like you don't even exist.

The staffer goes on to suggest that as many as three of the underage girls can be listed as dependents at the home, but a "flag" will be raised if as many as 13 are listed.

"You are gonna use three of them," the staffer says. "They are gonna be under 16, so you is eligible to get child tax credit and additional child tax credit."

The ACORN workers also appear to be promoting the group's services to the "pimp" and "Kenya."

A second ACORN employee can be heard on the audiotape suggesting that the couple join the organization for an annual cost of $120 prior to attending one of its first-time homebuyer seminars, which are underwritten with taxpayer funds.

Wow! Getting child tax credit for your underage hookers! Now, that's really clever!

Later, when the "pimp" asks what would happen if the organization is somehow connected to the scheme, the ACORN staffer replies, "First of all, it's not gonna damage us because we not gonna know. And with your girls, you tell them, 'Be careful.' Train them to keep their mouth shut."

"These girls are like 14, how can we trust them?" the pimp asks.

"Just be very, very careful," the ACORN staffer says. "Whatever you do, always keep your eyes in the back of your head."

Very sound advice!

Well, I don't know about you, but consider my heart warmed!

This is such great news for pimps and prostitutes everywhere-- not to mention those especially nice people who ship in young girls from abroad for exploitation. Finally there's someone willing to extend a helping hand to those in our community who need it most!

"Finding skeletons is such fun!"

This morning, a blog I read linked to The Local, which bills itself as "Sweden's News in English". (I've been to the site before-- but I haven't been a regular reader for quite some time.) I read the linked article and was about to navigate away from the page when something near the top caught my eye:

"A body is discovered, followed by two skeletons." True, the quote's attributed to "The Swedish Book Blog", which clears up the mystery pretty quickly, but in juxtaposition with that happy, smiling face (a photo of the journalist/book blogger, I assume), the grisly quotation just struck me as bizarre and amusing.

I thought this was probably just a fluke-- but after refreshing the page and getting new "headline quotations", I began to think that they do this kind of thing on purpose. (Not necessarily always by pairing creepy quotations with smiling photos, however. Sometimes they just choose an eye-grabbingly odd line for the quotation.)

Next up, there was a surgical masked statue announcing, "Hello. My name is Peter and I have had the swine flu."

(Um. Dude? You might want to pull the mask up so that it covers your nose, too. . . Just a thought.)

Then there's this gem:

"How many insects do you need to make a hamburger?"

(. . . Remind me to skip the burgers, next time I'm in Sweden.)

And here's one more dose of the absurd:

"Ladies, send me some pictures of your shaved heads."

I had to click that one just to see what in the world that was all about. Apparently, the female shaven head is some sort of new trendy look, and the columnist is seeking more photos of women who have shaven their heads for fashion. . . . No, seriously.

Ah, the Internet. You never know what you'll find next!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Spider's Web

This foggy morning, there were many dewy spider webs to choose from. . .

Spider Web  (and Spider)


I'm loving how now it's so important to "respect the office". The Presidency itself is so sacred, hallowed, revered, whatever-word-you-like that out of deference for it alone we shouldn't say a word when the President wishes to address the nation's youth. Ok, but if we should respect the office even if we don't respect the man (or woman, somewhere down the line), where was that respect during the past four years?

And then there's this. According to that article from The Washington Examiner, when President George H.W. Bush made a motivational speech to students, back in 1991, the Democrats (who held the majority in Congress) "not only denounced Bush's speech-- they also ordered the General Accounting Office to investigate its production and later summoned top Bush administration officials to Capitol Hill for an extensive hearing on the issue."

. . . . .

Ok, yes. Some people went overboard on the issue of Obama's address to the nation's school-age children. That's not to say that a few things in that cute little "lesson plan/study guide" didn't turn my stomach. It's just that because of all the fuss, no matter what he originally intended to say, now the speech has been scrubbed clean of anything remotely controversial-- so anyone who has objected to it will come out looking hysterical and ridiculous.

. . . . .

Sometimes you just want to go find a new, hidden continent and start over fresh. Too bad new, hidden continents are in short supply. I guess we have to stay here and try to fix things. The infuriating part is that for the mostpart, things aren't that broken here. Sure, some things could be improved upon, but I for one am not hungry for the kind of radical change that may be coming. Instead, I feel like I'm helplessly watching them prepare to take a hammer to the foundation of my country, and it's sickening.

Friday, September 4, 2009

"Now in 3-D!"

We had a chuckle over of this can of deodorant.

Look! It's "3-D"!

So much better than all those old two-dimensional deodorants!

3-D deodorant. . . What will they think of next?

But. . . How come there are no cool 3-D deodorants for women (as far as I know)? Totally unfair.

Testing. . .

Hey there!
I'm just seeing how bigger pictures will look in this new, wider format. . .

Butterfly Wing



Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Coming Soon(?): The Yard Sale Police

Whatever happened to common sense and personal responsibility?

Seller, beware: Feds cracking down on secondhand sales of some products
McClatchy Newspapers

If you're planning a garage sale or organizing a church bazaar, you'd best beware: You could be breaking a new federal law. As part of a campaign called Resale Roundup, the federal government is cracking down on the secondhand sales of dangerous and defective products.

The initiative, which targets toys and other products for children, enforces a new provision that makes it a crime to resell anything that's been recalled by its manufacturer."

Those who resell recalled children's products are not only breaking the law, they are putting children's lives at risk," said Inez Tenenbaum, the recently confirmed chairwoman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The crackdown affects sellers ranging from major thrift-store operators such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army to everyday Americans cleaning out their attics for yard sales, church bazaars or - increasingly - digital hawking on eBay, Craigslist and other Web sites.

Secondhand sellers now must keep abreast of recalls for thousands of products, some of them stretching back more than a decade, to stay within the bounds of the law.

Staffers for the federal agency are fanning out across the country to conduct training seminars on the regulations at dozens of thrift shops.

"Even before this law, we had good mechanisms in place for pulling recalled products," said Jim Gibbons, the chief executive of Goodwill. "The law just kicks it up a notch, so Goodwills around the country will continue to improve our process."

Goodwill uses $2 billion in annual sales at its 2,300 thrift shops nationwide to pay for its job-training and employment-placement programs.

Gibbons said the nonprofit group was accustomed to inspectors from the Consumer Product Safety Commission making unannounced visits to its stores.

Scott Wolfson, a spokesman for the agency, said it wouldn't be dispatching bureaucratic storm troopers into private homes to see whether people were selling recalled products from their garages, yards or churches.
Not yet, at least. . .

"We're not looking to come across as being heavy-handed," he said.
No! No, of course you aren't!

"We want to make sure that everybody knows what the rules of engagement are to help spur greater compliance, so that enforcement becomes less of an issue. But we're still going to enforce."
Well, obviously.
(Wonder what the penalty is... I don't think that was mentioned in this article...)

The agency is working with eBay, Wolfson said, to help the online sales giant install software filters that will flag auction items subject to manufacturers' recalls.

The commission's Internet surveillance unit is monitoring Craigslist and other "top auction and reselling sites" for recalled goods. If the agency discovers that a recalled product has been sold online, it will try to find and inform the buyer, Wolfson said.

To kick off its Resale Roundup, the federal agency released a list of the 11 most dangerous previously recalled children's products.

The oldest is the March 10, 1993, recall of 11,600 portable cribs sold as Playskool Travel-Lite Play Yards and made by Kolcraft, an Aberdeen, N.C., firm that's the nation's largest crib manufacturer.

Adele Meyer is the executive director of the National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops, which represents more than 1,100 store owners.

"Even before it was criminal to resell recalled goods, our members have always been diligent because children's safety is always foremost in their minds," she said. "But having consumers look out for recalled products that are sold at garage sales and flea markets, that is a problem, and hopefully this law will help."
What? But I thought they just said (however-many paragraphs up in the story) that garage sales weren't (yet) going to be pestered with. . . What did they call them? Oh yes, "bureaucratic storm troopers". Apparently this person was mistaken on that point-- or she's already thinking ahead to the next logical step.

Nancy Lothrop, a mother of two in Monroe, Wash., was surprised to learn that she might be violating the law by selling about $200 worth of Polly Pocket dolls and accessories on Craigslist that her 12-year-old daughter no longer wants.

In two large recalls from November 2006 to August 2007, the El Segundo, Calif.-based Mattel asked consumers to return 9.7 million units of several dozen different sets of Polly Pocket dolls.The recalled dolls and accessories, made for Mattel in China, had tiny magnets that could become loose and then swallowed or inhaled by young children. The magnets have caused three serious injuries - intestinal tears requiring surgery - that the Consumer Product Safety Commission knows of.

Lothrop's daughter, Laura, was upset about four years ago when Mattel changed the clothing for many of the Polly Pocket dolls from a rubber-type material to plastic and inserted small magnets to hold it on the figures.

Laura didn't like the new material or the way it fit her dolls. So, at 8, she e-mailed a complaint to Mattel. The toy giant never responded.

Now, Nancy and Laura Lothrop must do a painstaking inventory of her collection, searching for tiny model numbers to see whether they match any of the recalled items. If they find matches, they'll pull the recalled dolls and accessories from the group that they're selling.

Nancy Lothrop, though, doesn't quite understand why the dolls are being singled out.

"Many toys have small pieces that could be dangerous," she said. "My son played with army men, Lego blocks, all kinds of things with little parts. A toddler can put anything in his mouth. Parents need to have common sense. Ultimately, the parent needs to really evaluate and be watchful of what the child is playing with. We as consumers have to be careful. It really comes back to us."
Exactly! You have to wonder at what point they will finally draw the line and say, "That's it folks. We've done all we can to protect you from the scary world (and yourselves). You're (mostly) responsible adults. Go forth and take care of your own interests!"

To take things to the ridiculous extreme-- how would it be if the government sent someone out to check the contents of your child's room-- or the whole house?

"Mrs. Smith, weren't you aware that it's illegal to keep Lego toys in any house where a child under 3 years of age lives? It's right here in the published material-- which, as you know, is available on the Consumer Product Safety website 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Just imagine what might happen if your baby found one of these Lego blocks! Don't you realize that she could choke?!"

"Well, those belong to our 9-year-old son. He knows to only play with them where his sister can't reach, and we're very careful to keep them stored up on a high shelf..."

"I'm sorry, but that's just not good enough. Mrs. Smith, the government has an obligation to protect your baby from your lax parenting practices. We'll have to confiscate the Legos. (Don't worry; they'll be recycled into government-approved playthings.) Oh, and of course we'll also be deducting a fine for Possession of an Unsafe Product from your next paycheck."

The Resale Roundup is being enforced under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed into law last year.

The law has a number of other beefed-up consumer protections, including much tougher standards for selling products that contain lead or lead-based paint. After stalling for years, the legislation gained new life after widely publicized massive recalls of Chinese-made dolls and toys with lead paint that started in late 2007.

The law also restored the full five seats on the Consumer Product Safety Commission for the first time in a quarter-century.

President Barack Obama and Democratic congressional leaders are crafting an appropriations bill that would boost the agency's funding next year by more than 11.4 percent - to $117 million - and it's already hiring new inspectors and other employees in anticipation of the funding infusion.
Yes, by all means. We have money to spare, so keep dishing it out!

- - - - - -

Obviously we don't want lead-based paint on children's toys, and it's nice if Goodwill tries not to resell defective cribs. But it does come down to common sense and taking responsibility for your own child's safety. The government can't take care of everything for us-- nor should it. We must make sure that we aren't sacrificing a pound of personal freedom for an ounce of added protection.