Can We Just Do the Right Thing? Can We?

Monday, March 31, 2008
I attend the University of Denver. It's a private university, and tends to be more expensive than public ones. An undergraduate degree (without textbooks) costs over $75K.

I receive tuition assistance from my company. Full-time employees are entitled to $7K a year for undergraduate programs, and $10K a year for individuals pursuing graduate degrees. Since most full time employees don't attend school full-time, the assistance is usually plenty to cover the costs of most programs. It's a pretty sweet deal, and just one of many reasons why I think my company is a decent employer.

So how does the current GI Bill compare? Pretty fucking poorly, in my opinion.

First, you have to pay to play. A contribution of $1,200 from the service member is required to participate. And then once you're out and ready to "cash in," the maximum benefit is $9,306.00 a year for four years for full time students. Part time students (such as myself) receive a maximum of $275.25 a month. That's $3,700.00 less per year than my private company provides me, and I'm not getting shot at.

Pretty fucked up.

Enter James Webb, Senator from Virginia, who we're keeping an eye on.

On February 28th, Senator Webb introduced the “Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act” S.22. This bill is an effort to allow our veterans to really go to college on Uncle Sam's dime, to make a life for themselves after they risked everything in Kabul or Baghdad. It's provisions would allow a veteran enough financial help to cover the full cost of the most expensive public institution in any given state, including tuition and a stipend for books and subsistence.

This is similar to the kind of help received by our World War II era veterans, which ushered in a substantial middle class and an age of prosperity unknown in this country. The WWII bill (the Servicemen's Readjustment Act) was a visionary piece of legislation, and guess what? It was also the right thing to do. When men and women agree to sacrifice everything in service to their country, the correct response is not "kthxbai."

Hence S.22.

But there are those who think the bill is too "generous." And you'll never guess who. Not the Dems. Not the Republicans. Wait for it...the Department of Defense.

That's right, the DOD is concerned that the passage of such a bill, and the subsequent benefits, would cripple their retention efforts. Because clearly, all those multiple deployments to a war zone, food stamps and stop-loss threats were really doing the job before. Asshats.

The cost of the bill is estimated at $2 billion.

The proposed 2009 budget for our country is $3.10 trillion. Surely there's enough there to do the right thing by our veterans. Surely.

I'll be writing my Senators and Representative today, and I ask you to do the same.

Chick Stuff - Score!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

So my Smart Man and I went to the Outlet Mall yesterday to do a little shopping. All he wanted was a new pair of Columbia boots and some socks from the Columbia store, but I had other plans.

::Rubs hands together gleefully::

First stop was the Coach store, where I picked up the brown bag above. I love Coach. I love bags. I love Coach bags - on sale! This one was on the "Take an Additional 40% Off at Register" rack.

After dinking around for a bit longer, I finally got a chance to repair my impaired religiosity with a spiritual experience at Cole Haan's. I love that store. Like Mason in Der Waffle House, I could live there. Luckily they had a nice bench where my Smart Man could wait comfortably while I wondered around like a drooling idiot.

They didn't have the boots or bag I found on the Cole Haan website, but since it's an Outlet store, I wasn't surprised. Instead I headed for the back of the store, where the "40% off last marked price" and "50% off last marked price" racks were available.

The shoes I found on the 50% rack. The black bag was 50% off list at the front of the store.

Overall, I paid 38 cents on the list price dollar for these three items.

SCORE!

Once we were done, I bought my Smart Man a Philly Cheese Steak, for being such a patient guy while I was shopping.

And the best part? I stayed within my budget.

Now I just have to decide how long to use the Cole Haan bag before I switch to the Coach.

Decisions, decisions...

White House Easter Egg Hunt

Saturday, March 29, 2008

I'm off to the Outlet Mall with my Smart Man today, so enjoy this oldy but goody while I'm gone.

Hope versus Cynicism

Friday, March 28, 2008
Inspired by a conversation with my Smart Man last night, I've been thinking about this year's Presidential election.

As you all know, I support Barack Obama. Everything I've read about him indicates he's a highly intelligent person of integrity, who understands where the country is, and where it needs to go. Information available to date suggests he's who he represents himself to be. He appears to be treating the general public as thinking, sophisticated members of society, capable of understanding complex issues and making value judgements about them. I believe his ability to compromise and build consensus gives him a better chance of leading a successful administration than the other candidates.

And yet...and yet.

There is no guarantee that once in office, he won't be completely ineffective, for any number of reasons.

There is no guarantee that once in office, his "true colors" won't come out, and we'll find he wasn't as honorable or ethical as we'd thought.

There is no guarantee that once in office, he won't lead the country in a direction we didn't anticipate.

There is no guarantee that once in office, he wouldn't turn into a crazed, megalomaniacal nutjub. And if you think that couldn't happen, I refer you to Cheney, Dick.

So I'm trying to maintain some level of cynicism, as armor against disappointment.

And yet...I hope.

Who Cares? Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 13


Robin Williams' wife Marsha files for divorce! Is Robin off the wagon? Who Cares!

Chick Stuff - Outlet Shopping!

Thursday, March 27, 2008
First, the nod to the guys (and some of the girls).





This is Blueberry Wine & Son. Blueberry Wine is a retired PBR (Professional Bull Riding) bull, who earned "Bull of the Year" honors multiple times. He's also a favorite of my Hot Mom, who is a big PBR fan.

Onto the Chick Stuff.

My Smart Man has agreed to go to the Outlet Stores with me this weekend. There's a Cole Haan store in the ones near our house, and I've been wanting to go there for some time.



I love Cole Haan, especially the shoes that use the "Nike Air" technology that make wearing heels less an exercise in torture and more something that you might actually want to do.



I'm hoping that this boot is available there in my size. I wear a lot of jeans (since I work from home and don't leave the house much), and these would work just fine.




I've also got my eyes on these pumps. I really don't have anywhere to wear them (see aforementioned lifestyle), but who doesn't need a good, comfortable pair of black pumps?



That's a rhetorical question, by the way.





Because the correct answer is no one.









I also want this bag. I've been carrying a Coach for several years, but I'm about ready for something new. Not that the Coach has worn out or anything - I'm just ready for a change.

The "Janiece" fund can only support one or two of these items, though. Decisions, decisions...

We now return to your regularly scheduled program.

From the "No Shit, Captain Obvious" Files

This morning, I read over on MSNBC that "U.S. military leaders told President Bush Wednesday they are worried about the Iraq war's mounting strain on troops and their families...The chiefs' concern is that U.S. forces are being worn thin, compromising the Pentagon's ability to handle crises elsewhere in the world."

No shit, Captain Obvious.

I'm not sure what the administration thought was going to happen. With the current level of intellect in the White House, they probably thought getting involved in an occupation in a region that has simmering, then boiling, then simmering again for thousands of years would be a breeze. After all, peoples from other areas of the world are simply wannabe Americans. Inst-Americans! Just add freedom! Because once we Americans come in, with our cape flapping behind us, then the local populace will simply thank us as their liberators, forget all about any disagreements they may have, and go about creating a mini-America. Mission accomplished!

The sad part of this sarcasm is that the deluded asshats who thought this way are not the ones paying for their ignorance and short-sidedness.

But as Dick Cheney says, "So?"

This lack of thoughtfulness, complete ignorance of other cultures, and contempt for the American public is just one more yardstick I will use to measure future political candidates.

January 20th can't come soon enough for me.

Billy Joel - Downeaster Alexa

Wednesday, March 26, 2008



Since you people seem to be obsessed with Billy Joel lyrics this week, here's a video of him performing my favorite Billy Joel song, live at Yankee Stadium in 1990.

Enjoy.

In Which Florida Jumps on the Dumbass Bandwagon

Florida evidently suffers from dumbass envy. The dumbassery in question was that incredibly retarded Oklahoma House Bill 2211, under which students would be allowed to answer scientific questions with religious answers and not be penalized.

Well, it's evidently not sufficient to compromise science education only in the mid-section of our great country - the east coast must also be considered rejects of the modern world.

According to Florida Citizens for Science, there's a new bill afoot in Florida that "Provides public school teachers with a right to present scientific information relevant to the full range of views on biological and chemical origins. Prohibits a teacher from being discriminated against for presenting such information. Prohibits students from being penalized for subscribing to a particular position on evolution, etc."

This kind of unadulterated bullshit evokes desperation in me. If we, the most prosperous nation in the world, can't keep this sort of dogmatic, dark ages clap-trap out of our public schools, then what hope is there?


H/T to The Bad Astronomer

Conversations with Karma - Hillary

*Ring, Ring*

Unidentified Female: Hillary for President campaign headquarters!

Karma: Hillary Rodham Clinton, please. It's Karma calling.

UF: We just call her "HILLARY."

K: Okay. Hillary, please.

UF: No, HILLARY.

K: Just get her, will you? I haven't got all day. I have to make an emergency house call in New York.

*pause*

HILLARY: Hello, this is HILLARY.

K: Hello, Hillary. This is Karma.

H: It's HILLARY, actually. And Karma who?

K: No last name. Just Karma. The eastern idea that you will receive your punishment or reward for your deeds. You know...what comes around goes around, people get what they deserve? Karma.

H: Is that a Methodist concept? Because everyone knows HILLARY is a METHODIST.

K: No, it's an eastern idea. Buddhist and Hindu, primarily.

H: I'M a METHODIST.

K: Yes, I know. Listen, I'm rather busy this week, so I'll get right to the point. Remember when you said you came under sniper fire in 1996 when you visited Bosnia as First Lady?

H: Yes. THAT was harrowing, let me tell you.

K: You already told the world. On video. It's on "YouTube."

H: I love modern technology.

K: We'll see. Listen, I'm afraid there's a little problem with your assertions.

H: I'm sure I have no idea what you're talking about.

K: I'm sure you do. Because you were the First Lady, there was lots of coverage of that visit to Bosnia. Cameras and such. And they documented your visit, including you and Chelsea disembarking at the airport. And that's on "YouTube," as well.

*Silence*

K: You still there, HILLARY?

H: Yes.

K: Well, there's more.

H: Oh, I'm sure of that. The right wing conspiracy will stop at nothing to keep me from getting elected. Nothing!

K: The right wing conspiracy? Oh, you mean Sinbad and the Obama campaign? Yes, they're pretty right wing.

H: Sinbad? Sinbad outted me? NICE. And I expect nothing less from BARACK HUSSEIN OSAMA.

K: You mean Obama.

H: You say Obama, I say Osama. He's not a METHODIST. He's a member of some RADICAL BLACK CHURCH.

K: Yes. Well. We're not really talking about him, are we? I think people are most outraged that you would lie about this particular thing. With so many members of our armed forces being hurt or killed by enemy fire, people want to know why you felt justified in co-opting that experience as your own, in order to bolster your foreign relations experience.

H: First of all, what makes you so smart?

K: Well, I've been around a long time. A LONG time. And I am somewhat obligated to keep apprised of current events, to ensure I'm available when my services are needed.

H: Second of all, I didn't co-opt ANYTHING. Being married to Bill really was like being under enemy fire.

K: But that's not what you said, you chose to stay with him, and it's really not the point. I have to leave for New York. I just wanted to let you know personally that your little fabrication is going to be national news.

H: It's not fair! When Osama was associated with a radical, he came out a hero! I make one little misstatement, and I'm vilified! WHY?

K: I really think it's a matter of character, since you asked my opinion.

H: What's that supposed to mean?

K: You're normally an intelligent woman, HILLARY. I'm sure you'll figure it out. I'm off to New York. Good luck in Pennsylvania!

*Click*

H: I'm not giving up! You hear me, Karma? I'M NOT GIVING UP. I will be the first woman president of the United States! Otherwise, why did I stay married to that cheating bastard all those years? I WILL OVERCOME. You hear me, Karma? KARMA? That SOB hung up on me. I'm sure he's in league with that upstart Osama...

Biomimetics - Engineering via Natural Selection

Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Biomimetics is the abstraction of good design from nature.

The most common example of this principle was the invention of Velcro by Swiss engineer George de Mestral. He was inspired by the cockleburs that kept getting caught in his dog's coat during walks.

Sounds simple, yes?

No.

Because functionality in nature was designed from the bottom up, via evolution, the designs in question tend to have lots of complexity (and not the "irreducible" kind). The unsuccessful offshoots of mutation, if they do no harm, sometimes remain with the organism, clouding the issue.

By contrast, functionality in human designed structures is designed from the top down - the final function of the unit is considered first. This allows for less clutter and more elegance in the design.

And yet, could anything be more elegant than the thorny devil lizard of the Australian desert ingesting water by wicking it from the damp ground to its mouth? Superbly adapted for its environment, able to live in an arid climate that would kill most organisms.

Some of the areas of study include "The Lotus Effect," the aspect of the Lotus leaf that allows it to be self-cleaning and water repellent; whale flipper inspired turbine blades that may be able to produce more wind power at slower speeds; using the structure of shark skin to build synthetic coatings for ship's hulls to reduce biolfouling; using the blowfly as the model for a micro-mechanical flying insect to be used for reconnaissance and research; and mimicking moth eyes to reduce glare on glass.

How cool is evolution? And how cool is this area of endeavor, that attempts to leverage evolution's successes for our own ends?

I love being human.

Great Jam Give-Away the Third - Blackberry

Monday, March 24, 2008

Here's some blackberry jam from last week's batch. The usual rules apply:

1. Jim, Beastly, Michelle, Becca, Nathan, Shawn and family members are not eligible, because really, greed and gluttony are unbecoming in Hot Chicks and Smart Men.

2. I have delayed posting this until mid-day MST, to ensure everyone has an equal chance, even those who live west of me.

3. Shipment won't occur until I get around to it, because I do have other things to do this week, including performing the tasks for which I'm paid.

May the fastest blogger win!

Update on The Asstard Company


You know that $18M deal I've been working on for like, 6 years? Yeah, The Asstard Company decided not to buy it.

Shocking, I know.

The Bright Side: I no longer have to do pre-sales design work for The Asstard Company.

Never imply that I'm not an optimist. ::Snort::
Revised 3/24/2008 12:27 p.m. to include the photo created by my buddy Nathan to express my sentiments. Hee! Thanks, Nathan!

SkeptiCamp Colorado 2

Sunday, March 23, 2008

On Saturday I attended the 2nd annual "SkeptiCamp" here in Colorado, sponsored by the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF). I found out about it through SkepChick, and I think Rebecca also mentioned it on the Skeptics Guide to the Universe Podcast last week.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself at this event. It's essentially a local get-together of people who are interested in skepticism and critical thought, where individuals essentially volunteer to give talks on a skeptical topic of their choice.

The topics included Pariedolia, The Family Tomb of Jesus, Modern Skepticism, Therapeutic Touch and other Nurse Quackery, Update on Health Related bills in Colorado, Fund for Thought, Immunization and Medical Quackery, Rocky Mountain Paranormal Society, and Denialism vs Skepticism.

I especially enjoyed Linda Rosa's talk on Therapeutic Touch and Dr. Joe Albietz' talk on immunization.

What I found especially entertaining was Linda's description of how her 9 year old daughter debunked Therapeutic Touch and was subsequently published in the Journal of American Medical Association. Emily, who is no longer 9 years old, was on hand to talk about her experience. I also learned during this talk that my health problems probably arise from my "impaired religiosity." No, I'm not making that up. Look it up if you don't believe me. I dare you.

Dr. Joe Albietz is a pediatrician at the Denver Children's hospital, currently employed as a fellow in their critical care department. His analysis of the history of immunizations and subsequent documentation on current efficacy didn't reveal any surprises, but it did confirm that Jenny McCarthy really is the Poster Child for the Stoopid. Like we needed a medical professional to confirm that.

The only criticism I have, and this applies to the skeptic movement in general, is that people seem to have trouble divorcing the idea of skepticism and critical thought with atheism. While many atheists are skeptics, the two are not mutually inclusive, and I think the movement does itself a disservice when it allows that correlation to be drawn. There are plenty of folks who would self-identify as "people of faith" or agnostics who are capable of skepticism and critical thought, but if they believe skeptical societies are inherently atheist, they will not engage with the community. It severely limits the audience available for skepticism.

For me, though, the high point of the day was meeting the Bad Astronomer himself, Phil Plait. I was a bit disappointed that he didn't give a talk, but he was there, as confirmed by this photographic evidence of him sitting in the last row of the room. I have provided an arrow pointing to his hat to ensure you don't miss him.

I did say hello, and told him how much I enjoyed his BABlog, which I think he appreciated. He said he's seen my blog on his SiteMinder referrals, which I suppose will have to do for my annual "brush with greatness." Of course, the URL of this blog is a bit memorable, especially is you're not looking for the p0rn.

Overall, a positive experience, and I'll probably attend more Denver Skeptics events, as time and logistics permit. Well done, guys!

Hungarian Torte Cake

Saturday, March 22, 2008


This is a Hungarian Torte Cake. It's a recipe from my Smart Man's family.
My Smart Boy usually asks for this for his birthday, but this year, his birthday occurred just prior to him leaving for New York for his Spring Break trip. Because leaving this cake in the house with my Smart Man while my Smart Boy was out of town would of resulted in an eaten Hungarian Torte Cake and a premature heart attack, my Smart Boy decided to skip it this year. What he doesn't know is that I made it last night as a surprise, so he'll have the whole thing when he returns from New York tonight, although I'm sure he'll share with the rest of the family. Sneaky, huh?

It's a good idea to have more than one person to eat this cake, because trying to eat the whole thing by yourself would surely result in some sort of cardiovascular incident. It's incredibly rich, and a bit labor intensive.

Here's the recipe:

The Icing
12 oz Baker's Semi-Sweet Chocolate
3/4 Cup milk
15 TBS Sugar
9 egg yolks
1 1/2 lbs sweet butter creamed with 1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Heat the chocolate slowly until completely melted. Stir constantly to avoid scorching. Add the milk, sugar and egg yolks. Bring the mixture to a slow boil and cook about 10 minutes. Let it cool for 10-15 minutes, then slowly add the creamed butter, 1/3 at a time. Place icing in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.

The Cake

10 egg yolks
10 egg whites
10 TBS sugar
10 TBS flour
1 tsp. baking powder

Separate the eggs. Add the sugar to the yolks and beat until sugar is no longer granulated. Stir in the flour and the baking powder. Grease and flour three 8" round pans. Beat the egg whites until they are completely stiff, about 100 years. Add a small amount of egg whites to the batter and beat it until it's a little thinner. Then fold the rest of the egg whites into the batter. Pour even amounts into the pans and bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let them cool in the pans for 30 minutes. The cakes will not rise like a normal cake. They'll look beautiful when you remove them from the oven, but will appear to fall after they cool.

To put the cake together, split the three round cakes horizontally with a serrated bread knife. Then layer the cakes with icing until all six cakes are stacked. Then ice the top and sides with remaining icing.

Must be refrigerated.

Attention, National Enquirer - You Suck!

Friday, March 21, 2008
When I was looking for something to make fun of for this week's edition of "Who Cares? Magazine," I was bombarded - for the second week in a row - with pictures and headlines of Patrick Swayze, smoking cigarettes.

As you may or may not have heard, Patrick Swayze was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. As you also probably know, pancreatic cancer is invariably fatal, unless it's diagnosed as an incidental finding (prior to the patient being symptomatic).

So here's this man, who's been with the same woman since 1975, who has overcome alcoholism and tragedy, who's been diagnosed with a fatal cancer. He's been smoking three packs a day since forever, and is undergoing radical chemotherapy.

And the tabloid press is stalking him, taking pictures of him smoking, and blasting headlines like "Swayze: Chemotherapy and Cigarettes!"

Man, sometimes I forget about just how classless and clueless these motherfuckers really are. Then they do something like this to remind me. Of course he hasn't quit smoking. Quitting smoking is a huge pain in the ass, and sometimes it takes years to find out who you are without smoking as your daily companion. Does anyone seriously think that his quitting now will make any kind of difference in his prognosis?

Leave him the hell alone, National Enquirer. You're not helping, and the man and his family deserve to spend his final months without having to fuck around with you. Fucktards.

Your Friday Giggle


For some reason, this made me laugh my ass off. Probably because I'm a dirty, dirty blasphemer, who will undoubtably pay for all eternity.
Hee!

Who Cares? Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 12


Mandy Moore's mother has dumped her dad after 28 years of marriage — and run off with a Claudette Laliberte, a known lesbian! Has Stacy Moore been a lesbian all along? Will Mandy ever forgive her? Who Cares!

Tasty Treats

Thursday, March 20, 2008


I received a box in the mail yesterday from Random Michelle. You may recall that she and her Gram were the winners of one of the jars of my Apple Butter earlier this month.

As a "thank you," she sent me this bag of Chocolate Walnut Biscotti. She even included the ingredients on the bag so I could calculate my Weight Watchers points!

I may share with my Smart Man. But don't count on it.

Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History, Volume IV

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

This is Army Specialist Monica Brown. She's 19 years old, and she's only the second woman since World War II to earn the Silver Star, one of our nation's highest military awards for gallantry in combat.

Specialist Brown is a medic, and in April of last year, was part of a four-vehicle convoy patrolling near Jani Kheil in the eastern province of Paktia in Afghanistan when a bomb struck one of the Humvees.

After the explosion, she braved insurgent gunfire and mortars to reach five wounded soldiers. She shielded them as she administered aid and helped drag them to safety.

In the finest tradition of medics and corpsmen everywhere, her attitude about her actions is that she was "just doing her job," and that her gender didn't have anything to do with it - "a soldier is a soldier," she said on NPR's radio show Tell Me More.

This story brought tears to my eyes. Not because this brave young woman did what needed to be done in the most harrowing of circumstances - although she did - but because to her generation, my children's generation, gender is a non-issue. She's an army soldier, a combat medic, and an ROTC candidate who intends to enter the Nursing Corps after college. She doesn't see herself as a female soldier, a WAC or a WAAC. Just a soldier.

I like to flatter myself that I may have, in my own small way, had something to do with Specialist Brown's freedom to not consider her gender an issue. I had to consider my gender every day of my service. While my generation were not the pioneers the WASPs and other ill-behaved women were, we helped plow the road.

Congratulations, Specialist Brown. You make me proud to have served.

And to the ill-behaved women who have come before - behold the fruits of your labor. Truly a spectacular accomplishment.

So Long, and Thanks For All the Ideas


Arthur C. Clarke, 1917 - 2008.

Miscellaneous Bits

Tuesday, March 18, 2008
I'm almost done with the project I was working on yesterday. The final list price of the project is over $18M. Now we just have to see if the sales team can sell it. Because it's for The Asstard Company, of whom I've spoken before, I have no confidence in a favorable resolution. In spite of their bribes of chocolate, I'm about ready to tell the account team that if they call me on this again, it had better be with the phone in one hand and a signed purchase order in the other.

I'm a bit tired today, because I had to get up at 3:00 a.m.. It's Spring Break in our county, and my Smart Boy is on his way to New York City for their bi-annual theatre trip. They get to see four Broadway shows while they're there, and they'll also have some time to see some of the other sites while they're there. They had to be at the High School by 3:30 a.m., so they could get to the airport and make their plane. I went back to bed after I dropped him off, but had some insomnia last night, so I'm dragging ass.

The Smart Boy was really excited, as this is his first trip "by himself" although he'll be with his school group. Our agreement was that he could go if he paid 25% of the cost and kept his grades where they belonged. He could of gone when he was a freshman (since they go every two years), but freshmen are required to bring a parent due to their tender age. As he says, "Going to New York with my Mommy wouldn't have done much for my street cred." Because privileged white boys from Douglas County really need to worry about their street cred, apparently. He cracks me up.

So The Smart Man and I are on our own until Saturday evening. It'll be good practice for when we're "empty-nesters." Somehow I don't think we're going to have much trouble making that transition. As much as I love that kid, I'm looking forward to having him finish school, get a job and get out. Not get out like in Amityville Horror, but get out and start his own self-sufficient life. Because that's one definition of parental success, at least in this country.

Mind Games

Monday, March 17, 2008
I'm going to be busy today, because I have an extremely complex multi-million dollar project that requires my attention. My employer narrow-mindedly believes I should spend time on that rather than this.

To amuse you while I'm gone, we'll do this game:

Pick your same-sex/opposite-sex love puppy.

The rules are:


  • The person you select must be of the opposite sex than you're normally attracted to. So for me, since I'm straight, I have to pick a woman.
  • The person must have at least a semi-celebrity status.
  • Each celebrity/semi-celebrity must be alive.
  • Each celebrity/semi-celebrity can be used only once.

To start you off, I'll go first:



It's OVER!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Today I completed my final paper for my University of Denver class "Organizational Behavior." I submitted the paper through the on-line tool, posted my final comments, and now I can do the happy dance.

Man, was this class a chore.

And those $230.00 textbooks? I ran them through the buyback program today, and the bookstore will give me $45.00 for both of them. I guess that's better than a slap in the belly with a dead fish, but someone, somewhere is making some money.

I still have one more required class to take from the Leadership and Organizational Studies catalog, but for now, it's OVER.

Next stop: "Law, Politics and Policy." Yes, this is the interesting class I'm rewarding myself with since I took the boring required one, thank you very much. Hey, it only has to be interesting to me.

Celtic Thunder

Saturday, March 15, 2008
It's PBS pledge time, and I watched the PBS special Celtic Thunder last night. It's apparently PBS's attempt to repeat the Celtic Woman phenomenon, only with men.

Like Celtic Woman, it was wildly overproduced, which distracted from the enjoyment of the music. Also, I think they need to have a word with their costumer, who apparently suffers from sartorial schizophrenia. Here's a clue, honey: Hot Celtic men in kilts = yum. Hot Celtic men in white belts and suits made of shiny fabric = urp. I didn't know they even made white belts anymore...I thought Herb Tarlek had graciously killed that for everyone.

The high point of the show, though, was of course, the music. The pieces that were sung by the entire ensemble were the best, as the producers selected men whose voices blended well. Heartland, Mull of Kintyre, and Caledonia were the highlights of the show.

The members are interestingly different. George Donaldson, the baritone of the group, is a Scottish folk singer. He's a bit stiff on stage, and his voice is the least "smooth" of the group, but I enjoyed his songs.



Paul Byrom is a tenor who appears to be classically trained. The producers selected songs for him that suited his more formal voice. I'm not a huge fan of tenors, but he wasn't annoying or anything, and it was clear he was thoroughly enjoying himself in spite of the overproduction.



Ryan Kelly is a low tenor who apparently has too much time to contemplate his own beauty. While his voice was acceptable, and he's clearly an accomplished musician, I found him just fucking annoying.


Keith Harkin is the young heartthrob of the group. He's just too cute (I think he's about 20), and his tenor voice is endearing and more suited to folk or modern pieces rather than classical.




The big surprise was this kid. His name is Damien McGinty, and he's 14. He hasn't had his growth spurt yet so he's about a foot shorter than the other men, he still wears braces and he doesn't appear to shave. When I first saw him on the screen, I had to do a double take, because I couldn't believe that voice was coming out of that body. He also has the classic Irish good looks that come from dark hair, blue eyes and clear skin. Once this kid grows up, he's going to be a triple threat.


If you want to listen to some of the concert, there's selections on their MySpace page. I'll probably buy the CD when it's available on iTunes. Maybe it won't be as bad if I have to actually see the white belt and Ryan Kelly.

Colorado Governor Ralph Carr - My Kind of Guy

Friday, March 14, 2008
This is from an article in the Denver Post by Sandra Dallas, entitled "Carr's Courage Lit a Fire in Author:"

"In early 1942, when he first read Executive Order 9066, which allowed the federal government to round up the Japanese living on the West Coast and force them into inland camps, Colorado Gov. Ralph Carr thundered, "Now, that's wrong! Some of these Japanese are citizens of the United States." Coloradans, already fearful of the Japanese who were living in this country, were stunned at their governor's response.

"Later, as other Western governors refused to allow relocation camps to be built in their states — Wyoming's governor threatened to hang from a pine tree any Japanese entering his state — Carr announced that Colorado would do its duty, and more.

"Colorado became the site of one of 10 World War II Japanese internment camps, Amache, near Granada. State residents were outraged at Carr's words, although they had no bearing on Amache's location, since the federal government didn't care whether the states wanted the camps. "We had the JAPS crammed down our throats whether we liked it or not," a writer signing herself "A Mother" wrote the governor. Another letter-writer insisted, "If it were left to a vote of every citizen of this State . . . you would find out that we don't want the yellow devils."

"Carr's fierce stand supporting constitutional rights for Japanese in this country ruined his political career.

"Once considered as Wendell Wilkie's vice presidential running mate and even touted as presidential material by The New York Times, the Colorado Republican governor never again was elected to public office.

"Carr "stood up when everybody else sat down," says Adam Schrager, author of "The Principled Politician: The Ralph Carr Story." A political reporter at Channel 9, Schrager contends there are parallels between Carr's time and our own: "The Patriot Act, Guantanamo, calling out the National Guard are all issues Ralph Carr dealt with."

"What differs from today is the former governor's response. "Carr stood up for someone else and risked his career to do it. It's so rare when a politician faces (the kind of fear that existed in 1942) and not only doesn't back down but takes the fight to the people," says Schrager, who has an undergraduate degree in history from the University of Michigan.

""As a student of American history, I've tried to find a comparison." In fact, Schrager began the Carr book soon after reading John F. Kennedy's "Profiles in Courage," and "even the stances those folks took did not compare."

"The Principled Politician" is an outstanding biography of a governor who is little known today, even in Colorado. Carr was a successful water-rights attorney when he was drafted to run for the state's highest office. He initially dealt with budget deficits and overspending, but when war was declared, he found himself enmeshed in human rights issues. No one should have been surprised at his position on the Japanese because it could have been deduced from his first days as governor in 1939, when he hired an African-American to work in his front office. Until that time, blacks had been employed only as valets.

"Carr was molded by three factors, Schrager says. "Politically, he was a fan of Lincoln. He believed the Constitution was the law of the land and the greatest document outside the Bible. He had a strong moral code. He thought it was offensive to look down on people because of where their grandparents were born. And culturally, he never understood why some people were treated better than others based on class or race."

"His belief that he was right helped Carr withstand the barrage of venom aimed at him. In addition to thousands of letters from citizens, Carr had to contend with the state's newspapers. The Denver Post called the Japanese "yellow devils" on its front page and opined, "Once a Jap, Always a Jap." The Rocky Mountain News called Carr a "neutral in anti-Jap row."

"The reaction to Carr was based in large part on fear. And it was "just how scared the country was" in the early 1940s that surprised Schrager, 38, when he researched the book. Because he wasn't born until long after the war, "The only thing I can relate it to is 9/11. Pearl Harbor was 9/11 times 10," says Schrager. "Instead of caving in (to that fear), Carr stood up, and he fought. At the end of the day, he was comfortable with his stand."

"The author believes Americans today want the kind of politician Carr was. "It's fair to ask people running at the presidential level, 'Do you walk away from principles?' It's fair to pose it to people seeking the highest office, and I think I'll ask it of the next city council candidate who comes knocking at the door," he says. "

No shit. The reason we never hear about politicians with principles is because the ones that have them walk away from politics on matters of principle before they become well known. It makes me wonder which principles our current crop of presidential candidates have compromised to get as far as they have.

Who Cares? Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 11


Star and Al have split up and Al is moving to Miami! Was Al a dead-beat husband? Is he secretly gay? Who Cares!

Fabulous Customer Service (Gasp!)

Thursday, March 13, 2008
I've been struggling for the last week or so with the "recent comments" widget here at Hot Chicks Dig Smart Men. I had the code embedded, but it wouldn't populate.

After fucking around with it for a few days, I sent a note to Blogger Buster, asking for their assistance with the code.

Well.

Shortly after contacting them, I received a note from Amanda. She had checked and tested the code, and provided it for me to cut and paste into the page element.

I tried that, and it didn't work.

So I sent another note to Amanda, telling her my troubles, and she again responded quickly, providing new code that was not "malformed" by word-wrap.

I tried that, and voila! Hot Chicks and Smart Men Speak is back in business!

What makes this experience even more pleasant is that the code and tech support provided by Blogger Buster is free. They didn't have to help me - they would of been perfectly justified in telling me, "Hey, sister, it's free. Piss off." But they didn't. They helped me until I had a resolution.

Thanks, Amanda. Thanks, Blogger Buster. You could teach the big guys a thing or two about customer service.

Nice Job, Google

Wednesday, March 12, 2008
As those of you who are on RSS feeds know, I initially tried to post the video for "Don't Be Soulless" via You Tube. It didn't work so I finally just embedded the video directly. That was on Friday, March 7th.

Well, this afternoon, my two attempts appeared on my blog. Yeah, five days after I attempted to post them.

Nice job, Google. NOT. If you can't get-er-done in an hour or so, just forget about it next time, okay? Christ on a Crutch.

Revised 3/12/2008 8:35 p.m. Google just posted that hate-mongering bitch for Jesus twice more. Get it together, people!

Cancer Prevention - Get Behind It!

The American Cancer Society is putting together a new Cancer Prevention Study - CPS-3. From the website:

"The American Cancer Society’s Department of Epidemiology and Surveillance Research is inviting men and women between the ages of 30 and 65 years who have no personal history of cancer to join a historic research study. The ultimate goal is to enroll 500,000 adults from various racial/ethnic backgrounds from across the U.S. The purpose of CPS-3 is to better understand the lifestyle, behavioral, environmental and genetic factors that cause or prevent cancer and to ultimately eliminate cancer as a major health problem for this and future generations."

Registration is taking place at Relay for Life events, and state specific enrollment information can be found here.

Previous studies have determined the link between smoking and lung cancer, and obesity and colon, endometrial and postmenopausal breast cancer.

The program will be following participants for at least 20 years. Results from other long term health studies (specifically the Nurse's Health Study) have proven that these long term efforts provide information regarding causal relationships that shorter-term studies simply don't.

Cool beans. I'll be enrolling in June.

Jenny McCarthy - Poster Child for the Stoopid

Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Really, could Jenny McCarthy be any dumber?

When she was a younger woman, her vapidness didn't really hurt anyone - she just traipsed around, telling on herself every time she opened her mouth. From my perspective, this mattered not at all. She was just one more Hollywood starlet, famous for being famous, making no impact on the world.

Then she had a baby son.

Then her baby son was diagnosed with autism.

Then, because she is a famous person, her crackpot ideas and stupidity started to gain traction. And that's a problem.

Please understand - Ms. McCarthy, and all parents of autistic children, have my deepest empathy. Raising a child with this condition is extremely challenging, expensive, and frustrating, not least of all because medical experts do not know what causes it. The child's care frequently takes over the family's life, to the detriment of other children, and the parents' relationship. Many insurance companies do not provide help for therapies that are proven to work.

These are real problems, and these families need help addressing them. Help has been slow in coming, and I truly understand their desire to find a solution -any solution - to help them.

But that doesn't mean you need to turn off your brain.

Jenny McCarthy has become the poster child for non-scientific explanations and treatments of autism.

She claims her son became autistic because of vaccines. She claims her son is being "healed" of autism by diet and nutritional supplements. She claims she knows all this because of her "mommy instinct."

"Mommy instinct."

I have "mommy instinct," too. But I don't think it replaces the scientific method. Jenny's personal experiences with her child do not indicate she has found THE ANSWER. If diet and supplements have allowed her son to lead a better and more normal life, then more power to her. That doesn't mean it 'cures' autism.

Nor does her "mommy instinct" prove that immunization causes autism. In fact, there has never been a single piece of scientific evidence that immunizations cause autism. A good layman's explanation of this can be found here. The problem is that she is so sure that vaccinations caused her son's autism, and she actually has some credibility with the gullible and vulnerable. People believe her because she's famous, not because she has a clue about what she's talking about. This type of distraction actually hurts the cause of autistic people. It changes the conversation from something scientific and provable to something riddled with logical fallacy and emotion.

The plural of "anecdotal" isn't "evidence."

Further clouding the issue is her foray into mysticism. She's apparently convinced that she is an adult "Indigo Child," and that her son is something called a "Crystal." The thing I find laughable about this drivel is not the pseudo-scientific clap-trap, although that's funny, too, but the list that helps you to identify whether or not you're an "Indigo:"
  • "Are you always searching for your greater purpose in life but feel like the world isn't set up for your kind?
  • Do you sometimes feel wise beyond your years?
  • Do you have trouble conforming to the ways of society?Do you feel out of place in today's world?
  • Do you perceive the world very differently than most people around you?
  • Do you have strong intuition about certain things that most others do not?
  • Do you often feel misunderstood when you try to talk to people about what's real?
  • Are you a truth seeker?
  • Do you feel like you were born to accomplish a special mission in life?
  • Do you feel isolated and alone in your beliefs?
  • Misunderstood by family?
  • Do you feel anti-social unless you are with people of like mind?
  • Are you emotionally sensitive?
  • Did you have a difficult childhood?
  • Do you often feel disempowered by too much authority?"

Seriously, doesn't this list sound like something written by pretty much any angst-ridden teen on the planet? Everyone feels like this at one time or another - it's part of finding out who you are, and defining your place in the world. It's called growing up, not being an "Indigo Child." Get over yourself, Toby Alexander.

Really, could Jenny McCarthy be any dumber? I don't think so, but I've been wrong before.

Great Jam Give-Away the Second - Strawberry

Monday, March 10, 2008


Here's the strawberry jam from Saturday's batch. The usual rules apply:


1. Jim, Beastly, Michelle, Becca and family members are not eligible, because I'm the only one allowed to be a greedy materialist on my blog.


2. I have delayed posting this until mid-day MST, to ensure everyone has an equal chance, even those who live west of me.


3. Shipment won't occur until later this week, because it needs to set for a couple days.


May the fastest blogger win!

Which Historical Lunatic Are You?

I'm Charles the Mad. Sclooop.
Which Historical Lunatic Are You?
From the fecund loins of Rum and Monkey.


H/T to Pixelfish.

OK House Bill 2211 - A Follow-Up

Yesterday I asked "What the Fuck is Wrong With These People?" in response to OK House Bill 2211.

Today I found out.

One of the bill's sponsors, Betty Kern, is apparently a hate-mongering bitch. I tried to embed the video, but I'm having some trouble, so you can listen here.

Un-fucking-believable. This woman self-identifies as a Christian. Yeah, right. Good luck with that. Fucking hypocrite.


H/T to ERV.

What the Fuck is Wrong With These People? - OK House Bill 2211

Sunday, March 9, 2008
Yes, it's time for another edition of "What the Fuck is Wrong With These People?"

At the risk of giving John the Scientist an apoplexy, today's winner is the Oklahoma House of Representatives Education Committee, who recently passed House Bill 2211. According to Dave McNeely of the Edmund Sun:

"The Oklahoma House of Representatives Education Committee has just approved House Bill 2211. The bill is expected to pass the full House, and then to go to the Senate. Its authors describe it as promoting freedom of religion in the public schools. In fact, it does the opposite.
...
"The bill requires public schools to guarantee students the right to express their religious viewpoints in a public forum, in class, in homework and in other ways without being penalized. If a student’s religious beliefs were in conflict with scientific theory, and the student chose to express those beliefs rather than explain the theory in response to an exam question, the student’s incorrect response would be deemed satisfactory, according to this bill.

"The school would be required to reward the student with a good grade, or be considered in violation of the law. Even simple, factual information such as the age of the earth (4.65 billion years) would be subject to the student’s belief, and if the student answered 6,000 years based on his or her religious belief, the school would have to credit it as correct. Science education becomes absurd under such a situation."

What the hell are these dumbasses thinking? If one of the problems in America is our inability to compete in science and technology education, then allowing some drooling inbred straight out of The Hills Have Eyes to insist the universe is 6,000 years old without challenge is not the way to address it.

Really, the people who lose the most here are the students. Once they're done with their so-called "education," the only job they'll be qualified to perform is that of Postal Robot. Can you imagine how they'll be treated when they move on to University, and discover that the rest of the "educated" world considers them backwards and ill-informed, suitable only for ridicule? Poking Oklahoma educated students with a stick will become the newest pastime at Colleges and Universities all over the country. Except at Liberty University, of course. They'll probably be on the fast track for admissions, there.

However, I don't really know how long this will last. As soon as non-Christian students start using their religious beliefs to answer questions on exams, I imagine the House members' heads will explode. "God did it - it's in the Bible" might be an acceptable answer to how the universe was created under this bill, but I suspect that "Brahma did it - it's in the Puranas" will not.

What the fuck is wrong with these people? Is an inability to think a prerequisite for membership on this committee? Or has pandering to the religious right reached a level of such ass-kissing that the ability of our nation to compete internationally just doesn't matter anymore?

Oh, that's right. We're God's Chosen. He'll take care of everything.

British Columbia, here I come.

*Thanks to Abbie Smith over at ERV for bringing this to my attention.

New Chair!

Right after I left active duty, I was considered part of the "working poor." I lived off of top ramen and frozen pizza, and shopped at Wal-Mart and Good Will. The first six months I lived in my one-bedroom apartment, my furniture consisted of a futon, a lamp, and a television (a GoldStar, from a discount house). The lamp and the television sat on boxes, and the cable was provided for free as part of my rent. I lived like that because the alternative would be not to pay my child support, and I would rather have lived in a cardboard box on the street than done that.

Obviously, my financial situation has improved since then, but one of our first Christmases together, I asked my Smart Man for new pots and pans for a gift. He felt a little strange about that, but that's what I really wanted. New pots and pans. Not from the Good Will.

Which brings me to yesterday's purchase. Since I work from home and I'm also an on-line student, I spend the majority of my hours sitting at my desk. Since my Smart Man and I bought this house, I've been using a chair he commandeered from his former employer's junk pile. It's actually a pretty nice chair, and it's still in pretty good shape. It's reasonably comfortable, and gets the job done. Prior to that, I was using my Smart Man's hand-me-down. Prior to that, I was using the chair I bought for $29.99 at Wal-Mart. So I wanted a new chair. Not a chair that someone else had used first, or a chair that was appropriated from one of our employers, not a chair that was put together with bubble gum and sealing wax - a new chair, that I picked out just for me. I hope that doesn't make me a greedy materialist.

So off to Staples I went, and picked out my new chair. It's squishy. It's covered in chenille. It provides good back support. It's the comfiest desk chair I've ever sat in. It'll be delivered Tuesday.

It's new, and it's all mine.

The Iron Giant

Saturday, March 8, 2008


I love this movie. I TiVoed it a couple weeks ago and finally got around to watching it again last night.


It's the story of a extraterrestrial military robot who lands on earth during the Sputnik era. He's befriended by a young boy named Hogarth Hughes, who teaches him rudimentary English and treats him like his playmate.


Of course, the U.S. government sends a smarmy agent to investigate reports of the strange occurrences, and the agent automatically assumes the Giant is a threat to national security.


I won't spoil it if you haven't seen it, but I always bawl like 5 year old towards the end, then grin like an idiot at the very end.


The central theme is "You are what you choose to be." I think that's a pretty cool message.


It was directed by Brad Bird (the same guy that did The Incredibles.) Voice talents include Jennifer Aniston, Harry Connick, Jr., John Mahoney, Eli Marienthal, and Christopher McDonald.

I was never very sentimental about the Disney animated films that were around when I was growing up. The girls were always helpless and needed rescuing, which never really appealed to me. So I waited until my thirties to find my favorite animated movie.

I love this movie.

The Apple Butter is on it's Way

Friday, March 7, 2008


The apple butter is on it's way to Jim, Becca and Michelle's Grandmother. You guys should see it in a week or so.

Unlike poor Jim, I do not have to deal with the postal retards at my local post office. Instead, I use the "Automated Postal Center," where I can accomplish everything I need without dealing with subhumans. It'll do everything a postal employee will do, except drool. And get your package from the back.

On the bright side, their presence keeps the line down when you do have to deal with the postal employees. I can get behind that.

Don't Be Soulless

video

If you can watch this without laughing along with Ethan, you are a soulless, bitter creature with no hope of redemption.

Come on - laugh.

You know you want to.

Who Cares? Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 10


Why did Prince William and Kate really break up? Is the royal family butting into William's romantic life? Who Cares!

What the Hell are my Neighbors Thinking?

Thursday, March 6, 2008
My Smart Man and my Smart Boy both get up pretty early on a normal day. They both have to commute to work and school, and they both start early.

I do not. Since my morning routine consists of me putting on my work-out clothes, feeding the dog, and going to the basement to my desk, I get up about 15 minutes before I boot up my laptop and get to work. The result is that I end up sleeping about 1 1/2 hours more in the morning than my men.

I usually don't have any trouble getting back to sleep after my Smart Man gets up. He's very quiet, and I'm used to it.

Today, however, right after he got up, our neighbor's dog started barking. And barking, And barking.

At 5:30 a.m.

As you can imagine, this did not please me. I laid there, my teeth clenching harder and harder, as this dog barked and barked. Just as I was starting to fantasize about ringing the dog's house's doorbell incessantly at 2:00 a.m. one night, the dog stopped.

What the hell are my neighbors thinking? How can anyone possibly think that allowing their dog to bark incessantly at 5:30 in the morning in a housing development is just a really fabulous idea? If that's what you want, shouldn't you be living in the west end of nowhere, where your nasty neighborly habits won't bother anyone else?

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. In the years that we've lived here, more and more renters have moved in, and it seems like those who rent aren't very good neighbors compared to those who own their homes. No skin in the game, I suspect.

Boogie the Giant Schnauzer likes the sound of his own voice, too, which is why he's not allowed free access to the yard. We let him in and out every time, so that if he starts barking his fool head off, we can bring him in.

I think instead of ringing the barking dog's doorbell incessantly at 2:00 a.m., I should try and convince my Smart Man to play his electric guitar outside their house, with the amplifier pointed directly towards their bedroom window. See how they'd like a little Sunshine of Your Love at 2:00 a.m..

Urinetown - The Musical, Not the Place

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Last weekend and this weekend, my Smart Boy is performing in his high school's production of Urinetown - The Musical. It's his first production, and he was cast as "Executive #2." He says it's been a rewarding experience, although I don't think he was prepared for how time-consuming such a project is.

The story surrounds the idea that in some not-to-distant future, there is a severe water shortage, and so public restrooms become a thing of the past. Instead, there are pay-to-pee facilities, which really puts the poor at a disadvantage. The company that runs the facilities, the Urine Good Company, is fabulously successful and all the stockholders and the founder are all filthy rich. If you don't pay, or pee on the street, you get sent to Urinetown (the place, not the musical). As you can imagine, this eventually leads to conflict between the rich and poor, etc. etc.

The music and the book borrowed heavily from every musical made in the last 60 years, including Guys and Dolls, Les Miserables, and The Phantom of the Opera.

Saturday my Hot Mom and I went to see the show, and we laughed our asses off. As you can probably guess from the title, it's a satire, and the high school is doing a really nice job with the production. My Smart Man, my Hot Cousin and I will be going again tomorrow night, and I'm sure I'll enjoy it again.

I had a conundrum, though. For girls, when they enjoy a theatrical success, it's customary to get them flowers. Well, I'm pretty sure that my Smart Boy would not enjoy flowers as a gift. So what to do? A bouquet of cookies? A bouquet of balloons? Not so much. I finally found a Sweatshirt:




The front has the UGC logo with the words "Employee of the Month." I thought it was appropriate, since his role is as an executive with the company.

I had to pay for express shipping, since I didn't think of it until Monday, but hey, he's worth it.

I plan on giving it to him before closing night, so he can wear it to the cast party if he wants.

The Universe is Trying to Kill You

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

I'm wearing this T-Shirt today, although mine says "The Universe is Trying to Kill You."

What? Paranoid? Who, me?

Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History, Volume III



This is Rachel Carson. She was a marine biologist with the Fish and Wildlife Service in the 1940's and was a successful nature writer in the 1950's, publishing The Sea Around Us, The Edge of the Sea, and Under the Sea Wind.

She's ill-behaved, though, because she was the mother of the modern conservation movement. Her 1962 book, Silent Spring brought environmental concerns to an unprecedented portion of the American public. It spurred a reversal in national pesticide policy—leading to a nationwide ban on DDT and other pesticides—and the grassroots environmental movement it inspired led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. Carson was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

These accomplishments did not come without a price. The message of Silent Spring did not please the chemical companies, nor agribusiness. She was dismissed as a "hysterical woman," threatened with lawsuits, and attacked personally and professionally. She was forced to defend her science and her work while battling cancer and raising her orphaned nephew. She did it, though, because she felt the work was important, and wanted to ensure the natural world was not decimated through our ignorance.

While her work surrounding DDT and the subsequent ban on the use of the chemical in the United States is still controversial, her work led to the serious study of the environmental effects of pesticides. She also recognized the value in using chemicals to control disease:

"No responsible person contends that insect-borne disease should be ignored. The question that has now urgently presented itself is whether it is either wise or responsible to attack the problem by methods that are rapidly making it worse. The world has heard much of the triumphant war against disease through the control of insect vectors of infection, but it has heard little of the other side of the story—the defeats, the short-lived triumphs that now strongly support the alarming view that the insect enemy has been made actually stronger by our efforts. Even worse, we may have destroyed our very means of fighting. ... What is the measure of this setback? The list of resistant species now includes practically all of the insect groups of medical importance. ... Malaria programmes are threatened by resistance among mosquitoes. ... Practical advice should be 'Spray as little as you possibly can' rather than 'Spray to the limit of your capacity' ..., Pressure on the pest population should always be as slight as possible."

At a time when women were expected to be seen and not heard, this woman chose to become a scientist, working in areas where women typically weren't permitted. Through her skill, intelligence and dedication, she brought to the forefront an issue that effects all of us, at great personal cost.

Ill-behaved, indeed. Well done, Rachel Carson.

My Apple Butter is the Shit

Monday, March 3, 2008


I have it on the highest authority that my Apple Butter is the shit. I put up a batch yesterday because I owed Jim Wright a couple jars.

As it happens, there are a couple of jars from this batch that aren't spoken for. So step right up, Hot Chicks and Smart Men! Put your dibs on your jar in the comments, first come, first served.


Please note the following caveats:


1. Jim, Beastly and family members are not eligible, because greediness is really quite unbecoming.

2. I have delayed posting this until mid-day MST, to ensure everyone has an equal chance, even those who live west of me.

3. Shipment won't occur until later this week, because it needs to set for a couple days.

4. This stuff is labor intensive, so only ask for it if you like apple butter. I will be very disappointed if someone asks for it and then says, "Meh" because they didn't really like apple butter in the first place. Because that would be unkind.


Good Luck!

Four Dimensional Pancakes

Sunday, March 2, 2008

These are four dimensional pancakes, which I made for breakfast yesterday morning.

They're called four dimensional pancakes because they're big in all three dimensions, plus they stick with you a long, long, time.

I am apparently incapable of making a small pancake, so one is all you get.

I'm going back on Weight Watchers Monday, so I wanted to have one before "going back on the wagon." Each one of these suckers is worth about 18 points, so they're definitely off the menu when I'm on the program.

But they rule smothered in homemade Apple Butter.

The USS NEW YORK

Saturday, March 1, 2008
Today, in Avondale, LA, Mrs. Dotty England, the wife of Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England, will christen the NEW YORK, LPD-21, a San Antonio class amphibious transport dock ship. Her commissioning ceremony is scheduled for Fall 2008, where she will come alive and officially become the USS NEW YORK.

What makes this event unique is the fact that the NEW YORK's bow stem was smelted from steel taken from the rubble of the World Trade Center. Governor George Pataki worked to acquire the steel and deliver it to the Amite Foundry and Machine, Inc., Amite, La., as a gift from the citizens of New York to the Navy, where crews worked to embed this bit of history into the USS NEW YORK's future:


The ship's motto is "Never Forget."

There may be some who think that such symbolism doesn't matter, and that the Navy's decision to honor the city of New York in this way is a PR stunt.

As a former professional sailor in the US Navy, I can say without reservation that it does matter, and even if the idea was executed as a PR stunt, the sailors and marines who will serve on her won't consider it so.


Members of the Armed Forces are aware - acutely aware - that the events of September 11th profoundly changed their professions and life's calling. There is no longer such a thing as "peace-time service." Spending more time away from your friends and family than with them is the new norm. Every day you live through your service increases your chances that the next day you won't.

The symbolism of using WTC steel in this vessel, along with the motto chosen, will allow the sailors and marines who serve on her a point of pride in their service that other service members will envy.

When I was active duty, I served on the USS JASON, a heavy repair ship home ported in San Diego. She carried a crew of 900, and was the oldest ship in the fleet for the last year I was aboard. As such, she was entitled to fly the "Don't Tread on Me" flag, prior to the time when all Navy ships became authorized to fly that flag. She served with distinction in every conflict since her commissioning, including World War II.

For some, those accomplishments may engender a shrug and a "so what?" For those of us who served on her, it engendered a sense of history, a connection to those who served before. Many times I would be on the signal bridge of that ship, looking at the ship's bell, wondering how many sailors had done the same. She was an old, fat cow, but she was our old, fat cow, and I was honored to serve on her.

So, NEW YORK, congratulations on your christening. May you sail fast and furious, and deliver your marines safely.

Revision note: The christening will take place in Avondale, LA, rather than NYC, as previously published.

USMC Silent Drill Platoon

This is a performance at a 2007 Denver Nuggets game. I love these guys. My dad was a Marine, and so they have a special place in my heart.

Oo-Rah!

Women - Know Your Limits



You gotta love those gals over at SkepChicks. Hee!