"Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom" Albert Einstein

"A dame who knows the ropes isn't likely to get tied up." Mae West

Monday, December 29, 2008

Presentation is the key

Facebook is learning the hard way never to argue with new mothers. The raging hormone levels continue long after birth and there's no way to combat women in heat.

Yes, nursing a baby is not porn and is a natural part of life. After all, the mammary glands were designed primarily for that purpose and not simply for entertaining the opposite sex.

Defecation, urination, flatulence, belching, and having sexual intercourse are also natural parts of life, but civilized societies have learned to instill some modesty when it comes to those innate actions.

Exposing or posting a picture in public of one's nipple, regardless if a baby or adult mouth is near it, is a repugnant act to anyone with any sense of gentility. When breasts are presented with an in-your-face attitude at a social gathering (cyber or live), it is pornographic and is best left to the privacy of the bedroom.

There is something beautiful about a mother nursing a newborn, but it is most seraphic when it is done discretely, quietly, and intimately, and not made a public spectacle on a social networking site.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Ultimate Regifting


Friday, December 19, 2008

A little education on etiquette

As someone with a different last name than my spouse, I am constantly annoyed at this time of year when I receive holiday cards addressed incorrectly. It seems that relatives. on my side of the family in particular, just don't seem to know proper etiquette. So here's a review for them and any one else who just can't get over that two people can be married and have different names or titles.

If the husband and wife have different last names, address the card to Mr. John Brown with Ms. Mary Smith directly below. Do not hyphenate their last names unless they are legally known as Smith-Brown or Brown-Smith.

If the husband and wife have the same last names, address the card to Mr. and Mrs. John Brown.

If the husband and wife have the same title (i.e. medical doctor), address the card to Dr. John Brown and Dr. Mary Smith or The Doctors Brown (if both have the same last name). Do not address the card to Dr. and Mrs. John Brown.

If the wife has a title, address the card to Mr. John Brown and Dr. Mary Smith, or Mr. John Brown and Dr. Mary Brown, but not Mr. and Dr. John Brown.

If the wife has a higher rank (i.e. military), her name should be first.

Now, how hard is that?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I bet it's the target audience

Jay Leno is staying with NBC and moving to an every night gig in prime time. In addition to financial savings and keeping him from jumping ship, NBC surely knows that Leno's audience has more gray hairs than the other late night hosts. This will bring prime time ratings to a new high and allow more hours of sleep to his audience. Good decision by NBC in my opinion.

Politics as Usual

Here we go again. Another Illinois governor in trouble. I believe that is four Illinois governors with records in my lifetime.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

If you think it's about cooking, you'd be wrong

These are our tools of the trade. When used correctly, they have consistently performed the task successfully.

The tongs were a new addition to the cookie sheet and baking pan in our latest venture. The critter was hiding in a corner, with the cat on the ground licking its chops. My former technique of placing the baking pan over it and sliding the cookie sheet under it as a lid, trapping the thing, just wouldn't work. So the long-handled barbecue tongs came in handy. One of us squeezed the thing and placed it in the pan, while I was in charge of quickly placing the cookie sheet over it as a temporary lid. We walked with equipment in hand to the door and let it go. You can't kill these things, they are too good for the environment:
My very first experience with a bat in the house occurred at my parents' house a couple decades ago. It was Christmas Eve and we were all opening presents in front of the fireplace, when a bat swooped out of the garland draped on the mantel. After flying the length of the living room and back several times and appropriately scaring the crap out of everyone, it finally rested quietly on a wall. Being the creative and bravest one in the family, I grabbed the above equipment and was successful in relocating it on the first try.

Ten years later, a bat appeared in my own house. I used the same equipment as before and it worked quite well again. This is now the third time we've been successful, so I am offering this special technique to you free of charge, but it's a do-it-yourself project, because I don't make house calls.

I thought about changing equipment this time and instead use a golf club like my blog friend, but baking pan, cookie sheet and tongs don't make holes in the wall or splatter blood everywhere.

I live in a grand old home so I suppose I should expect problems like this will arise periodically, but my house is looks much, much different than this:

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Of course I know better

I just re-read my post from a couple days ago and noticed that I used the words "of course" twice. Arrrgh! I'm always catching myself doing that and I can only blame the exposure I had in my youth to weekly chants of the earworm that remains lodged in my head:

Monday, December 1, 2008

Celebrity cupcake face

Suri Cruise gets all the media attention when she has cupcake on her face:But Catcher Her in the Wry started the trend 23 years ago and did a much better job:

Sunday, November 30, 2008

And there's more shitty news

Never underestimate the people of Central Illinois. We know what suckers will buy:


Friday, November 28, 2008

Australia - the movie

Mid-Thanksgiving afternoon we decided to head to the big city to see Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman in the new release "Australia." Here's my short review:

1. beautiful scenery and camera shots
2. movie should have expanded the desert crossing and ended the movie before the bombing raid
3. writer tried to put too much into one movie; was it an Austrailian Outback western or a WWII movie? Comedy, romance or drama?
4. should have avoided the Aboriginal assimilation plotline; there are much superior movies which address that issue (i.e. Rabbit-Proof Fence)
5. My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I really wanted to see Daniel Craig as James Bond. It would have been time better spent.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Friday, November 21, 2008

Washing away the sins of youth

A group of high school teenagers was happily washing windows of the stores in the downtown business district. Most of the kids were from good families and seemed to be enjoying both the work and the camaraderie. Owners of those establishments, including myself, were caught off guard with this generosity. Many of us offered them some compensation for their work, but they refused. The business community was abuzz about the fine young people we have in our community.

By happenstance, I discovered the truth weeks later. All of these kids were in a required community service program through the county probation diversion program. All had been drunk and arrested while attending an under-aged party out in the country. If they performed community service, charges would be expunged from their records.

Yesterday, I attended an event in which a county probation officer, explained the diversion and Restorative Justice programs the county offers to juveniles and adults. It was explained that these programs are highly successful and that the recidivism rate in our county is only 21% after one year of completing the program. The probation officer emphasized the word "shame" as a large contribution to the success rate. Doing community service and facing your victims in private controlled confrontations supposedly "shame" the perpetrators into being sorry.

Skeptic that I am, I questioned some of the statistics and the public "shame." First of all, these programs are voluntary, meaning the perpetrators can opt out and go straight to court taking their chances with a good attorney, so the success rate might be skewed because you have willing participants, some who may be genuinely sorry in the first place.

Secondly, I questioned the "shame" put upon these perpetrators. I sighted the above example in this post. The downtown business people certainly saw no guilt in those teens washing windows; they were having a great time. In fact, they were admired by those observing them. They were not humiliatingly marked with a scarlet letter telling the public they were bad boys, and I certainly did not see a probation officer in the vicinity as they were working. Perhaps he was hiding.

In the Restorative Justice program, the meeting between perpetrators and victims is closed to all outsiders, except a mediator and several other community members. Nothing decided in that meeting is made public. The "shame" only occurs if the perpetrator later happens to meet the victim or those other community members elsewhere. There is no real public shame.

The speaker mentioned that several 13-14 year olds recently went on a vandalism crime spree and were facing 5 felony counts. They went through the Restorative Justice program so now they have no criminal record. The victims have been compensated. Although a perpetrator can go through a county Restorative Justice program only once, there is no database, so if he commits a crime in another county he might receive another get out of jail free card. If the family moves often enough, a 13 year old could commit numerous felonies and not ever have a record by the time he's 18.

The proponents of these programs overlook a couple of things in my opinion:

Monetary or service compensation does not put a victim back into the same emotional position as before the crime. Fear, mistrust, and stress cannot necessarily be resolved through compensation. So the program doesn't help the victim emotionally any more than a trial.

Shame should be more public and it will have greater effect. Shame should not be vague and misunderstood. It should be blatant.

Sign of the times

A phone conversation of an elected official overheard recently at an area court house:

" Oh, don't worry about that. You can do anything you want once you get elected."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Beware the Gentile at Christmas

Fellow blogger Little Blog on the Prairie often complains about being Jewish in the nearby university town, especially around the holidays.

When I attended the university there, I spent my freshman year in a privately owned new dormitory. My mother had taken a Woman's Club tour of the place and decided that was where I should live because "it was very nice and had many amenities."

It didn't take me long to discover that the co-ed dorm was 90% occupied by Jewish women and 75% occupied by Jewish men. The dorm was known around campus by a very offensive nickname (similar to Pike's Peak) and when I told new acquaintances where I lived, they asked, "You're Jewish?" I wasn't.

My roommate was a lovely girl from a predominantly Jewish Chicago suburb. She was surprised to discover that I was smart, blond, and white as a sheet. She indicated she had imagined me a black, backwards girl from the wrong side of town, maybe part of the Project 500, with my common last name and small town, "Southern Illinois" address.

I felt we got along just great. I liked her mom and dad, although I thought they were a bit too doting. We ate together, studied together, socialized together. She introduced me to lox and bagels and other ethnic foods. In late November, I had a Christmas tree and she had a Menorah in our dorm window and we taught each other our holiday traditions.

But things changed around that time. She suddenly informed me that she was moving out, immediately, before the semester ended. When I asked why, she said she was afraid of me. That I might try to kill her while she was sleeping. What?

This fear apparently resulted from a conversation we had had about heritage, and I said I had a small bit of German blood in me. My great-great-great, etc. had loaned Gutenberg money to build his printing press.

So even though we both had been born several years past the end of World War II and none of our immediate family had lived in Germany, she feared me because she was Jewish and I had some German blood in me. Some bias had been ingrained in her. Nothing I said could reassure her and she moved out as soon as another room could be found.

Perhaps I should have been happy to have that room all to myself the rest of that year, but it bothered me that what I thought was a good friendship had ended because of bigotry. There was a lot of that occurring on campus during 1968, but I didn't think I would be a victim of it.

Fortunately my other Jewish dorm mates didn't feel the same way, but then again, they didn't have to share a room with me.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bring back rugged individualism

"To be nobody but yourself -- in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you like everybody else -- means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting." e e cummings

Experts often proclaim that one of the problems with today's children is that they succumb to peer pressure. They want to be like everyone else and they are chastised and bullied if they aren't.

But you can't blame the kids. Society is no longer elevating the individual. Parents are to blame because they want their child to be like everyone else - just as smart, popular, well-dressed as John Smith's kid. Have you notice how so many teen-age girls look exactly alike? And of course, every kid is a winner and they've got awards to prove it.

Educators are to blame because they want to make their jobs easier by teaching standardized syllabus to a uniform group of children, without regard to boredom, challenges and intellect, to reach standardized test standards. Even businesses now practice "team building", encouraging employees to be part of a group, because now it seems the "best" ideas come from a committee approach.

Not so long ago in the rebellious 1960's , most of the teens and college-aged kids were preaching and acting non-conformist. Everyone rebelled from the status quo. But when these same people reached adulthood and began raising their own children, individuality went out the window and conformity became the new standard.

It used to be Americans held the individual in high esteem. Every person being considered unique and special. Individual (adj.) individuals (n.). Now it seems to be cool to be homogenized.

When one doesn't conform, he becomes infinitely more interesting. I personally like people who are a bit peculiar, who aren't afraid to stand out or away from the crowd, and are not ashamed of being who they really are. They have inner strength, self-esteen, and resolve that is almost unknown in the conventional circles.

If you think of some of the most memorable real and even fictional characters in your life, I'll bet they were the individualists, the so-called kooks, the out-of-the box thinkers and creative doers. The bland masses never survive tales of the past.

If peer pressure is such a big problem with today's kids, perhaps parents should start encouraging their children to be non-conformists and teach them to love themselves for who they were born to be. Then there would be no peer pressure problem because the kids wouldn't want to be like everyone else and would be perfectly content as the unique individuals they really are.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I'll take freedom over Prop 8

Most people in this country think democracy is great, until the voting doesn't go their way.

Take Prop. 8 in California, for instance. Left-wing voters pushed their Presidential candidate to victory, but were shocked that Prop. 8, that out-lawed same sex marriages, had successfully passed. Demonstrations, involving thousands of anti-Prop. 8 people, occurred later in the week, but accomplished nothing other than some TV coverage.

I see this incident as the perfect opportunity to explain libertarian philosophy in some simplistic terms. As a libertarian (not political party), I believe that people should have the freedom to do whatever they wish, as long as it harms no other person or other person's property. The problem with that philosophy is that most people are afraid of real freedom, or rather of someone else's freedom to do what they want. Yes, democracy is great as long as you're the majority.

In a democracy, the majority rules, right or wrong, and thus stomps on the rights of the minority. There is no need to be tolerant of others because they are the majority and they know they are right.

In a truly free society, everyone has equal freedom to live their lives as they wish without the majority dictating the terms. Tolerance becomes a necessity and a reciprocal way of life. I don't tell you what to do and you don't tell me. Punishment comes from crime such as battery, murder, environmental pollution, theft or burglary, not from lifestyles.

In a libertarian society, there would be no need for a Prop. 8 because any person could marry or not. But even more important, married persons would have no more rights (benefits) than single persons, which is really what Prop. 8 is all about.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

They should be committed!

I just attended a board meeting of a non-profit organization of which I am a member. Of the eight board members, only 2 showed up. Some made excuses, but most just didn't. Those who did make excuses appear to have had the day off because of Veterans Day, but none were veterans and were not attending any kind of Veterans memorial services. My guess is they were out shopping. We have monthly hour-long meetings, the same time and place each and every month, yet members have no qualms of scheduling other matters at that time or offering excuses that they forgot. Most months only half the board attends; some members have only attended a handful of meetings this year. They volunteered for the job. Perhaps only for the additional mention on their resume.

Over the course of my lifetime, I have served as a volunteer on numerous boards, groups, and committees. It seems in recent years that there is a trend of what I determine to be commitment phobia that has grown to outrageous proportions.

Last year I didn't rejoin the local Rotary club because I was tired of attending meetings where people who were in charge of the meeting program either didn't book a program, didn't give a program themselves, or didn't even bother to show up. Each member is responsible for only 1 or 2 programs per year. Yet only about 25% actually fulfilled their commitment to do so. Once, out of seven consecutive meetings, there was only one program.

A few years ago, several of us started a gourmet club to fill a desire for fine food, without going out of town and to provide an easy way to entertain. Dinners were scheduled the 3rd weekend of every other month. Before long, some people didn't show, resulting in menu shuffling, location shuffling, and resetting tables. They often acted as if the date of the gourmet club was a complete surprise and they had already scheduled another activity. Again dates were fixed in advance so I don't buy that excuse.

I don't understand the mentality of people who give their word to do something and don't follow through, especially in voluntary situations. A death or illness is excusable. Just not wanting to come is not. Why don't they just say no or don't volunteer in the first place? It is much easier to operate an organization or social event with people who really want to be there.

How hard is it to put an event on a calendar and be committed to attend?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

First Broken Campaign Promise

The new President-elect promised a puppy from a shelter for his daughters. Now it looks like it will be an expensive pure-bred. All of a sudden, in the last couple days since the election, one of the girls has developed an allergy to dogs. But of course, that news wasn't released until they were assured of votes from the PETA block. So the savior won't be saving a puppy from extermination. Maybe he isn't God after all.

Friday, November 7, 2008

It's that time of year again.

Last year I was writing a humor column for the local newspaper. Most readers really enjoyed the column. But then I wrote about Christmas sweaters and I was practically run out of town by a group of old ladies, calling me mean-spirited and unpatriotic. I was told by one woman that I should respect my elders (in fact, she herself is several years younger than I and I certainly have more gray hairs than she). When they started showing up at my office, I finally decided that perhaps the local public forum was not as appreciative of my sense of humor as my blog readers were. Besides, it's much too easy to track you down in a town of 4800 people.

In honor of the first anniversary of that momentous occasion, I repeat the column here:

It's now the most awful time of the year when women, especially gray-haired ones or
teachers, dust off the moth balls and start wearing those creepy 3-dimensional Christmas sweaters. Those bulky knits generally feature a Santa Claus ho-ho-ho-ing or a festively
decorated Christmas tree in bold colors of red, white and green, that are bright enough to
stop traffic on a rainy day. And similar to traffic signals, some of these cardigans even
have blinking lights!

This year I noticed one catalog offering an “authentic” Christmas sweater with an
almost life-sized nativity scene depicted on front and back. It only comes in extra-large.
It’s for the woman who wants to put the true meaning back into Christmas.

These ladies can spend $150 for one from Talbots or $11.99 for one from Walmart; it
makes little difference. No matter how much was spent, not a single woman looks good
in one of those things. Not a married woman either.

And, why do they always seem to buy them one size larger than necessary? These
same women will complain that they look fat in anything else, but have no such
hesitation when it comes to these over sized fashion statements. Where are the fashion
police when we need them?

What is scary is that these sweaters are creeping into other holidays like Valentine’s
Day, Easter, the 4th of July, and Halloween. Now women can look like engorged red
hearts, bloated white Easter bunnies, gigantic waving flags, or round orange jack-o-
lanterns. Please don’t tell me someone has designed a bulky cardigan with a 3-
dimensional cross to reflect the true meaning of Easter.The only thing that looks good in these sweaters is a dog or cat. But even then, many
pets sport an embarrassing look when seen in public while wearing one of them. Have
you ever seen a dog or cat that didn’t hunker down a bit after its master put one of these holiday sweaters on him?

Christmas sweaters have gained such a reputation that there are now Ugly Christmas
Sweater Parties.
Attendees are generally adults in their 30’s who arrive at the parties
wearing the sweaters as costumes, award prizes for the ugliest, and then proceed to drink
away their nightmare visions of the other party-goers’ garbs.

Perhaps the demand from these young adults will eventually catapult the Christmas
sweater into the status of a “collectible.” The next thing you know, we’ll be watching
“Antiques Roadshow” and one of the appraisers will say that Grandma’s ugly Christmas
sweater is now worth $25,000.

Until then, I’m forgoing the purchase of one of these sweaters and investing my
money elsewhere.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Election night with former revolutionaries

Since there was nothing to watch on TV Tuesday night, we watched the rest of the HBO mini-series "John Adams" that we had started over the weekend. We felt it more fitting watching the birth of our nation than the decline of it.

5 Times a week is more than the average guy does it

In a little rural town between Peoria and Bloomington, IL lives a helluva golfer.

It's funny that I haven't seen this story in local media.

A new cabinet post nominee

When asked on the Today Show this morning what Oprah Winfrey's role in the Obama administration would be, NBC political director Chuck Todd said, "She could be in charge of largess, since she's used to giving away stuff." Oh yes, the new cabinet post, Secretary of Largess.

At least the liberal media are not hiding their view of the current role of government.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Decision Day

In keeping with America's ever-increasing appetite for free lunches, all one needs to do is vote to get these:
doughtnut at Krispy Kreme
coffee at Starbuck's
ice cream at Ben & Jerry's
3 piece chicken diiner at Shane's Rib Shack
taco at California Tortilla
appetizer at Daily Grill
free sex toy at Babeland

I'll either be missing out on these entitlements or spending some money. I'm still trying to make up my mind.

Update: It used to be that giving free stuff for votes was illegal and apparently it still is.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Game Ended the 2nd Quarter

For well over 20 years, my husband and I and three other couples have gotten together for a progressive dinner during the holiday season. This year will be different because we just lost the first of our close-knit group.

Saturday at the Illinois football game, he suddenly had a stroke in the second quarter. Moments earlier he was his animated self, yelling and cheering for his alumni school. He was sitting between his wife and my husband. This morning he died.

He fought off cancer for over 15 years: a couple colon areas, a kidney, and then a couple of areas in the brain. But he continued playing golf, attending sporting events, drinking beer, and working in his veterinary office, never complaining of chemo, radiation and his own surgeries. He would relate that some of the chemo he was given was also medication used for sheep, and then make some remark unsuitable to repeat on this blog. He often joked that rumors in our small town had him dead several times over the years.

He was never a crank, as his name would suggest. He was so much fun to be around. He was patient and understanding with his dog and cat clients, as well as their owners.

I hope he's talking golf and Illini sports while drinking a beer with my brother somewhere out there. It was a pretty exciting game last Saturday in more ways than one. I know my husband will always remember that last wave our friend gave him just before the medics arrived.

To J. and K., our thoughts are with you.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

My Real Life Scary Movie Story - repeat post from 2007

I had turned off the bedside lamp about 15 minutes earlier and had just drifted into a deep sleep. A screeching sound pierced my dreams. Or was the ghoulish scream only part of the nightmare? I half-awoke to find my husband was soundly sleeping, as was the dog at the foot of the bed. Must have been dreaming.

Laying my head back on the pillow, I shut my eyes and tried to recapture the sleep mode.


I sat straight up, but husband and dog continued sleeping. I thought I must be crazy. Was I the only one hearing this ghostly shrill? Then I heard the scratchy moan yet again, but not nearly as loud. It appeared to be coming from beneath me.

Quietly I got out of bed, trying not to disturb the others. I knelt on the floor in the pitch black room and reached around under the bed, assuring myself that nothing was there.

I patted the floor. Nothing. I reached further into the void. Nothing. Patted the floor again.

"YEWOOOO!" This time the screech came from me.

My hand had landed on something warm and hairy and I jerked back suddenly. It wasn't the dog; he was still on top of the bed. Shivers were running through me and before they could reach my toes, I had the light turned on.

Shaking but with some courage, I peeked under the bed to see what I really did not want to see.

It was only a cat, much to my relief. Then it suddenly dawned on me:

We didn't own a cat.

By now, husband and dog were awake wondering what all the ruckus was. I reached back under the bed and pulled out the friendly feline, who was as frightened of the situation as I."How in the world did it get in here? " I mumbled as I walked downstairs to the back door and released one happy critter.

Then I saw my big potted palm that I had brought inside late that afternoon. I had propped the door wide open and with a few minutes of effort, I dragged the plant into the house due to frost warnings. Apparently the cat ran inside during my struggle and made a protective bee-line under our bed, perhaps after confronting our tiny poodle. Some watchdog she was.

Every child worries about the hairy creature under the bed or in the closet. I just never expected to ever meet up with it personally. Never want to again. Especially in the dark.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A twitch in your eye

I am not sure what the R&D folks were thinking coming out with a vibrating mascara wand. I doubt the eye is the first body part women think of when contemplating purchasing something that hums.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It may suprise you, but I like them both

On the one hand, we have a woman who is the epitome of a frontier woman; she loves the outdoors, animals, can fire a shotgun, and hunt as well as any man. She wears her hair away from her face to look more professional, but when she lets the shoulder-length mane fall, we see her natural beauty and those great legs poking out beneath the skirt. Her infectious smile charms us and belies an intelligence deep within that she often hides. She believes that hard work, personal responsibility and entrepreneurship are what keep this country great and that government and entitlements are not the answer.

That other one is an attractive, articulate intellectual with a similarly described spouse Both spouses have professional careers and in addition have been community organizers, volunteers, fundraisers, and champions of the underdog. They are a team who believes in health care for all, higher taxes to help those less fortunate, and global warming. They surround themselves with friends whom some might consider radical, but are at most leftist liberals of varying ethnicity and sexual orientation.

I can't help it. I like them both.

After all, they are my daughters.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Free money is not "free" money

My previous link to names of persons receiving farm subsidies generated a great deal of interest in my email.

I know a farmland owner who required his farm tenant to agree that none of the owner's land/crop would be placed in any ag subsidy program . Of course, farm tenants were always shocked that the landowner did not want the bonus money. Nevertheless, the government required the landowner to sign/file papers with them stating that he did NOT want their money.

So you must sign documents if you want their money and you must sign documents if you don't want their money because no one would believe you'd be such an idiot to refuse "free" money.

Whenever one signs a contract with the government, whether for business purposes or personal reasons, he has agreed to let Big Brother tell him how to manage his affairs; he has given up property rights and personal freedoms. It is amazing that so many people sell-out their liberties to make the government their life partner.

This is the very same thing that occurs when churches want their tax-exempt status and cry about lack of free speech.

Monday, October 20, 2008

It sucks! Part two

And I thought our new bug vaccum was thrilling. This guy knows how to get really cheap thrills.

Unintended Consequences?

What do you expect if you walk into a bar named "Booby Trap?"

Saturday, October 18, 2008

And Now For A Refreshing Change of Pace

Despite most TV networks being politically biased, it is always refreshing to see ABC allowing libertarian John Stossel so much freedom with his reporting. His 20/20 report Friday night was a good one. You can view all parts here.

There is an interesting interview with Walter Williams and an excellent analogy to ice skating about the current economic crisis.

And if you're curious about the farm subsidies portion of the report and who's getting all the government money in your area, you can search your area here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Breakfast of Champions

They say it's because of dopamine - either too much or too little (researchers haven't figured out which) - that some people have a propensity to risk their lives.

This morning on the Today Show I literally almost threw up breakfast watching 29 year old Nik Wallenda walk a tightrope 235 feet in length, 135 feet up in the air without a net underneath, then cross back over the same wire on a bicycle. Before he crossed back, he sat down on the wire and made a cell phone call to the Today Show. Then he almost lost his balance near the end of his walk. He almost didn't make it up the slight incline at the end of the bike ride. He set a new Guiness Book of World Record for the longest distance crossed on a tightrope on a bicycle. He wants to walk over the Grand Canyon next year.

He is a member of the famous Flying Wallendas family of which several members have been killed in tightrope accidents since the family first began performing in the 1700's.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It sucks!

Now that the pirate bugs are gone and the Asian beetles have appeared,my husband produced his latest purchase - a bug vacuum. I thought he was nuts, but this product is great.

Those Asian beetles that have dared to enter our home this year have been humanely sucked into the portable vacuum to their deaths. No nasty chemicals. Cordless w/rechargeable battery.
The bug vacuum costs about $49.95 and is available at Hammacher-Schlemmer, Sears, and on line stores.

Works on spiders and flies too. It's very entertaining to use, but not quite as much fun as stomping a large beetle on the sidewalk and hearing the crunch and watching the ooze. Beware: cats don't seem to like this gadget.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Real Life Sci-Fi

As a kid-lover and responsible parent, I'm a sucker for sappy movies about good people influencing the lives of children needing love. We watched Martian Child (2007, rate PG) on DVD this weekend. I rented it because both John and Joan Cusack star in it and both generally save their talents for independent, sometimes quirky, films. This was one of them.

I have to say that the child actor, Bobby Coleman, stole this film as the child who insists he is a Martian who has been left on Earth by his parents and is awaiting their return. The viewer is not sure if this is a sci-fi movie or not until the end and that makes the film even more endearing.

There are lessons taught in the movie that unfortunately will most likely not fall upon the ears of those parents who need to be taught. For the rest of us, it gives us hope that every child can be saved and loved.

The movie was based upon a novella based on real life incidents of the writer David Gerrold. Gerrold is a single adoptive father, who happens to be homosexual, although that is not mentioned in the film. The novella won several awards. For those of you Star Trek fans, Gerrold wrote the famous episode, "The Trouble with Tribbles."

Friday, October 3, 2008

To Keep Things Fair and Balanced

Just to make sure that readers don't think I'm a Reublican because I've defended Palin as a mother and Cindy McCain as a financially independent spouse, I am printing a column that was written by an old friend who is an accomplished political critic and author of a number of sea-faring books. The opinion expressed below is his opinion, not necessarily mine.

Published 9.16

Trailer Trash or Glasses in High Heels
by Stan Zimmerman

You feel a little down on your luck, so you slip into a bar for a beer. Trouble with the mortgage, trouble with the neighbors, and debt is killing you. The kids aren’t doing well in school, and close relatives are starting to give you the shifty eye because you’re developing a reputation of beating people up. Things are lousy.

You’re midway into beer number two when the door opens. In walks a babe. Honey-colored hair, long legs and glasses like a librarian. She walks over and sits down right next to you.

You feel better already. Suddenly the neighbors and the relatives and the mortgage and the kids aren’t so important any more. She starts to chat, tells you how big and strong you are, how smart you are for liking her. Your head starts swimming. You feel "chosen" somehow. You don’t want to ask why, you just want to bask in the attention.

You know she’s playing with you, she’ll use you. But you don’t care. She’s hot, you’re desperate to forget, and as for tomorrow? That’s tomorrow. Tonight is now!

If you were an adult, you’d thank the lady, pay up and go your way. But she’s no lady, and you’re about to repudiate years of diligence for a pair of glasses in high heels. You’re a sucker, and in your gut you know it. But you’re so besotted, you don’t care. You are about to throw away everything you care about. For a pair of glasses in high heels.

How is Sarah Palin gonna fix your problems pal? She doesn’t understand how mortgages work; she thinks Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae are government agencies. In fact they are private, but a Republican president is about to bail them out with billions in Federal money. Not exactly privatization. More like corporate welfare.

Trouble with the neighbors? Like Venezuela, Cuba, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, North Korea, Palestine, Sudan and Russia? If she doesn’t know the back-story, it is unlikely she’ll be able to come up with an idea of how to calm them down. Eyeglasses and high heels won’t do it for that crowd. They didn’t climb to the top of the heap being suckers. Nobody snatched them from obscurity because somebody liked their looks.

As for your debt, well it’s our debt too. The current administration started with a surplus in the budget, the current account and the trade balance. But that didn’t stop rock-ribbed-conservative, God-fearing, who-is-minding-the-store, we’re-all-businessmen-here-together Republicans from squandering it all – recording record deficits, throwing the trade balance into the toilet and ruining the domestic economy. I mean RECORD deficits, THIRD-WORLD style deficits, HIGH unemployment, record BANKRUPTCIES. High heels don’t impress the repo man.

Your kid’s in school just like all our kids are in school. Banning books doesn’t sound educational to me; it sounds jihadist, fundamentalist, anti-science and anti-knowledge. Your kid gonna get ahead in the Twenty-First century with anti-knowledge? Imagine if Barack Obama suggested at any time the banning of books from Chicago libraries. Yet eyeglasses atop high heels can waltz away from such fascist activity in Wasilla, untouched by charges of Fahrenheit 451 – the ignition temperature of a book. Book-banners are as anti-American as you can get without blowing something up.

And those close relatives – NATO and Japan and South Korea and Australia – growing increasingly nervous about another war in Iran to save American bacon? The propensity to attack targets in "friendly" countries like Pakistan? The unnecessary war in Iraq is another very bloody shirt waved by discredited politicians to obscure a total failure of vision and understanding. There are terrorists there now, mind you, created by our mindless strategy.

Who’s getting rich today? The very people funding the terrorists killing our kids, that’s who. They are building palaces while you face foreclosure. You pay them every day, at the pump. Every gallon is another bullet in their budget, more gilding in their palaces. Have you seen what they are building with your money? Your V-8 is their cash cow.

If you think so little of your family and your country pal, then cozy up with the eyeglasses and high heels. Have another beer. Take her for a spin. Believe her lies. And she’ll laugh and laugh at what a sucker you are. In December you can figure it out – was the trailer trash you or her?

Ps. I grew up in a trailer. Eight feet wide and fifty feet long. From first grade through high school. I met a lot of nice people in the parks, and I met a lot of lousy people I wouldn’t trust with a snotty handkerchief. Sarah’s one of ‘em. Sober up, pal

Things go better with Coke.

I've been putting Coke in my pie-hole for as long as I can remember. Now it's been proven to be effective in the opposite end.

And talk like a pirate day was 3 weeks ago

There is nothing more frustrating than being eaten by a stupid pirate, with the exception of perhaps this one:

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Yes, it's a clothing store.

I'm always intrigued by successful businesses based in small communities or rural areas, especially ones that are innovative or quirky. Check out Billy Reid's website. Don't you want to just hurry out to one of his stores?

Hip clothes plus antiques, and attitude. I imagine they have no problem selling those vintage hankies for $35.00 each, even though we can find them for a dollar at local garage sales. It's all in the marketing.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Why I don't vote

Because I need no leaders; I can make my own decisions about what is good for me.

Because I accept personal responsibility for the care and well being of myself and my family.

Because I don't compromise and have no admiration for those who do.

Because people who seek to be leaders are dangerous people who want power and control over others.

Because I had no part in electing any of them, I can complain and ridicule imbecilic politicians, regardless of party affiliation.

You deserve all this grief.

To those mortgage brokers who black-listed me as an appraiser because they weren't happy with the so-called low valuations of properties I appraised and my refusal to adjust them higher.

To those stock brokers who were churning commissions in my elderly clients' brokerage accounts, putting them in high risk investments, and who now are screaming rudely to these clients as they desperately pull their money out of those brokerage accounts to save what little money they have left.

To those politicians who eased credit restrictions and mandated lenders to loan money to people who really couldn't afford home ownership.

To those borrowers who based their monthly payments on maximum household income instead of minimum income, lived way beyond their means and got in way over their heads in debt.

To the Federal Reserve for printing more and more worthless paper money.

To the Presidents in the last 50 years who have expanded "entitlements," restrained trade with wage and price controls and regulations, eliminated the gold standard, and waged wars outside our boundaries.

I could go on and on. The finger pointing goes from the head of the country all the way to the individual. Perhaps the best thing to happen would be to let things fall apart. It may suddenly wake people up to the difference between needs and wants, the importance of personal responsibility, and the consequences of immoral actions.

In a quotation attributed to the French author, Alexis de Tocqueville: "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury."

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Was there really any question about it?

Tina Fey will be playing Sarah Palin in SNL's political sketches this year. The resemblance is undeniable.

Can't wait to see the new season.
Addendum: Fooled you. They are both Tina Fey. Here's Palin:

Friday, September 5, 2008

Aliens vs. Country Bumpkins revisited

One thing I've learned in recent days is that I could never be vice-president of this country. Not that I want the job, but the Washington insiders and the media have pretty much told me that small town people are uneducated, hicks, know nothing about the real world and have no business running for one of the big jobs leading this country.

Small town people just like to have sex, drink beer, go hunting, and raise a pack o'kids. We don't travel, we don't read, and we sure as hell don't know about that information highway thang.

This attitude is rampant among self-described cosmopolitans or sophisticates. I have experienced this first hand from former Windy City residents who have moved to our area of southern Illinois (their definition) and laid claim to lake property homes nearby. In fact, I wrote a post about this last year, but deleted it when I "cleaned house" around the first of the year.

I saved it on my electronic gizmo (yeah, I do know how to do that) and I am re-posting it here, because I think it has even more relevance now with all the snooty Washington socialites and metro-media bashing of small town America that is currently taking place. Yet one insightful reported (probably from a small town) noted: "American is made of a million Wasillas and only one Chicago."

Aliens vs. Country Bumpkins

Our section of rural America is being infiltrated by aliens, although not the illegal or outer space kind.In recent years, upper income Chicago city dwellers and suburbanites have been buying homes in our neck of "southern" Illinois, and some have even chosen to retire here.

Who can blame them? Sell your house in the city for $500,000+ and buy something way bigger and better down here for $150,000, invest the rest, and have some fun! Those purchasing second homes are using them for weekend getaways, and will move into them permanently when they do retire.

Like other parts of America, the flavor of our community is changing because of the aliens, and that's not hitting so well with some of the local folk. As one recent Newcomer was quoted at a local town meeting, "Things are changing and you'd better get used to it!"

That didn't make things any better.

Reminiscent of the early days of America, the local natives are unhappy with the Newcomers. They're upset about being driven off their land because they can no longer afford the higher real estate taxes, the consequence of rising property values due to increased alien demand.

But the economics of a boom town are so much easier to handle than the arrogant, in-your-face metro-attitude that many of these aliens are bringing with them.

In our rural Mayberry, the pace of life is slower and quieter. We ask questions because we're interested in you. We speak softly because we don't have to yell over the sounds of jackhammers and traffic. We don't drive fast because it doesn't take us an hour to go two miles. We may wear blue jeans to work because we're not trying to impress anyone. We drive old cars because they only have 15,000 miles on them after 5 years and still run. Most of us are fiscally and politically conservative.

But those things don't make us poor, uneducated, or unsophisticated. It seems that many from the Chicago area consider all of Illinois south of I-80 as "southern Illinois." (Those of us who live in the middle of the state and have some knowledge of maps know there's a whole lot of miles between us and the Ohio River.) And "southern Illinois" to the city folk means country bumpkin.

Like earlier immigrants, upon arriving in our territory, the Newcomers circle their wagons by forming little cliques of fellow transplants, and party around the campfire sharing stories of city life and counting their blessings about their "New Land" that they haven't even begun to know. Apparently there's safety in keeping with your own kind. Besides, it's not worthwhile getting to know the savage natives because the Newcomers are so much smarter, richer and cosmopolitan.

What they never learn is that we natives can drink beer at the local bar and be knowledgeable about fine wines, that we can have church dinners and still enjoy a gourmet meal, that we can drive pick up trucks and be world travelers, that we can know the price of a bushel of corn and how much the Dow Jones was up or down. Some of our locals could buy out the Newcomers three times over. Living in the country is not living in a vacuum. We're just not hung up on impressing our neighbors with what we know and what we can buy.

Even more amazing, many of us local bumpkin business people are much more knowledgeable and worldly than the Newcomers think they are. Merchants and service providers in small rural areas wear many hats and must know a great deal about a wide variety of things. Specialists, like many of the Newcomers, could never last at their occupations in small towns, where your customer base is small but so diverse that a broad-based information background is a necessity for business survival.

Here an attorney will handle wills, estates, real estate, corporate issues and criminal trials. A Realtor may also be an insurance agent and tax preparer. The grocer will sell food, magazines and books, rent videos, sell lottery tickets, make copies and send faxes for customers. The druggist will have a pharmacy, gift and card shop, and be the local UPS store. The dentist could also be a fireman or emergency medical tech.

It may seem as laughable as a comedy series where the mayor is the sheriff, the dry goods owner, the barber, and judge. It is serious business, though. Juggling all these hats means fulfilling requirements for multiple state licenses, constant market research to cater to the ever-changing demands of the consumer, travel to find new products to bring back to the community, evening and weekends of continuing education to keep informed of business issues or learning the latest techniques.

Assimilation is generally a slow process. Divisiveness and wars have occurred because of Newcomer misunderstandings of the natives. Hopefully the Newcomers will remember from times past that pioneers should never underestimate the natives and that the natives may actually be able to teach them a thing or two.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Mommy politics

I really try to stay out of politics. Too many good people disagree and get angry at each other. How Mary Matalin and James Carville have ever stayed married is way beyond my comprehension. Thank goodness I am a libertarian and don't buy into all this current madness.

What is currently disturbing to me though are the attacks on Sarah Palin as a mother. Media and others are questioning her abilities "to lead" by pulling her maternal status into the limelight, instead of her politics. Like her daughter's pregnancy, it should be a non-issue.

The fact that she is a mother, with a baby, with five children, with a Down Syndrome child, with a pregnant teen daughter should all be non-issues. I've read stay at home blogger moms attacking Palin for going back to work "too soon." Others are saying she should be spending all her time nurturing the special needs child. Media express concern how someone could be able to "do it all" in this position. Everyone seems to be criticizing her as a mother, because her life doesn't fit their definition.

Would I vote for this woman? Probably not, but it would not be because of how she handles her role of motherhood. In fact, I can identify with her a bit.

Some women have easy pregnancies and easy childbirths. I met with clients while having labor pains, went to the hospital & gave birth, then walked back to my hospital room for some rest , and left the hospital, baby in arms, all in less than 20 hours. I had business appointments two days later and continued working thereafter. I was able to bring the baby with me often, but I did have an extended family network to help babysit when necessary.

I, like Palin appears to be, am most efficient and creative when I am super busy. With proper scheduling, it is possible for a woman to be productive in the work force and still find time to cook family sit-down dinners every night, and spend quality time with children and husband. A politician who has staff, a stay at home husband, and a large extended family has an even easier time.

Like anything else, not all women are alike and not all women could thrive in this type of hectic life schedule. And not all families suffer consequences from this type of life. One can also point out many families with stay at home mothers who have pregnant teen daughters or special needs children and have difficulty handling it all. Palin seems to be resilient and organized and her family appears happy.

The feminist movement began when I was a teen. The message I always heard was about choices for women. Today women have many life choices, and there is no one size fits all family/work lifestyle that women must embrace. If a woman chooses to stay home with a child, breast feed and give the child organic food, let her do it without repercussions. It's what works for her.

If a woman chooses to work outside the home, bottle feed and take the child to day care, then embrace her decision and don't judge her. She may even have an enviable family life that just might make you jealous.

There are still many women who simply don't have the choice to stay at home or work nor have family or staff to help, but they have other ways of making good families through love, understanding, and encouragement. So don't judge them either.

In recent history, many people judged Bill Clinton as a "bad husband" because he cheated on his wife. Cases were argued that it didn't mean that made him a "bad president." The same can be said of motherhood.

Being a mother in all its different forms is a great occupation, but it is a separate issue from job performance in a workplace or political arena.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Obama, Palin, and teen pregnancy

Obama's mother was 18 when he was born on 8/4/1961.
She was married 2/2/61, 6 months before he was born.
I know, it was a premature birth. Right?
Now you know why Obama said to leave Palin alone on this issue.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sex Ed

I have always assumed that every woman has been sexually accosted and/or harassed, in some way or other, at some point in her life. Not a pretty fact, but a disgusting part of life when the world is filled with some men who just think with the wrong head.

I am not talking about headline type incidents. I'm speaking of those smaller private events that happen to throw you off guard in the normal course of going about your daily business. I'm sure every woman has at least one story. Below is a sampling from my own life:

late teens
During a casual, unprovoked, unprovocative conversation, a former college star basketball player intentionally poured a pitcher of beer down the front of my white shirt hoping for a peep show

As I crossed through a crowded room, a male grabbed me in the crouch when I passed him

Someone I had known for years and dated for a few months wanted me to have sex with him. I said no - numerous times. He pinned me to the wall and did it anyway.

When I went into the storage room of my office on a Saturday, the janitor grabbed my breasts with both hands

As we walked down the hill from the Parthenon in Greece, a man grinned at my friend and me and then he furiously masturbated and flung his seed in a 5 foot semi-circle around him

Here's how I handled the situations. You'll have to figure out which reaction fits which occurrence:

I laughed.
I cried.
I walked away.
I told him he'd be fired if he ever did that again.
I grabbed his balls and gave a twist.

I should not have taken matters into my own hands. I should have reported the incidents to authorities.

These types of incidents in my life have been waning in recent years. Is it that these kinds of men are finally getting it because of all the media attention, HR education, and pressure from women's groups? Or is it simply that wrinkles offer some protection?

Addendum: I previously posted about an experience in my 50's: Tattle Tale

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Mixed (up) Media

My annoyances with the media reached a new height this week:

1. Network news reporter: "There was less military troops..."

2. Local tv news reporter: "Now...now....now...now...now..." 20 times in 45 seconds

3. Local tv news anchor another station: "Stu-dents (accent on 2nd syllable) are going back to school." The #1 area news anchor still hasn't learned how to speak correctly.

4. Local commercial for monument company: " They are kno-wen for..."

5. Local area newspaper featuring retirement of local official: information wrong in three different paragraphs

Where are these people getting their media college degrees? Someone needs to teach them how to speak correct English and to get their facts straight.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Home Sweet Homes

My latest blog favorite comes from the category of "Why didn't I think of this?".

This blog features actual really bad pictures from internet real estate listings. You have to wonder about the people marketing these homes. When I sold real estate, I was in many properties that looked just like these disasters. That's when a Realtor has to get very creative with language.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Aliens crossing the border

I hope my daughter doesn't mind me sharing this.

She and her husband attended a wedding party in Canada recently. They flew to New York and drove two hours into Ontario for the festivities.

Border crossing (into Canada) conversation:

Canadian Border Guard: Why are you coming to Canada?
SIL & Daughter: To attend a wedding. Well, it's not actually a wedding. It's a reception since they got married somewhere else.
CBG: And where's the wedding?
SIL & Daughter: _____, Ontario
CBG: And what hotel/motel are you staying in there?
SIL & Daughter: Well, we're not actually staying in ____; we're staying in ______, Ontario.
CBG: And just why are you staying there and not in ____ where the reception is?
SIL & Daughter: Well, all the motels were full so that's the closest place we could find a motel room.
CBG: So, do you have anything to declare?
SIL & Daughter: No.
CBG: You mean you don't have a wedding present to declare for this reception you say you're going to?
SIL & Daughter: No, they didn't want presents, just a donation to a charity.
CBG: And just what charity did you donate to for your wedding gift?
SIL & Daughter: An elephant sanctuary in Tennessee.

Despite the true, but implausible answers, the CBG allowed them into the country where they had a fantastic time with their elephant loving friends. There was no problem getting back into the US.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Case closed.

Never underestimate the tenacity of a woman. The lid has been shut on the case of the missing garbage can part.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Losing my lid

Walking down the alley behind my house on my daily trip to visit my mother, I discovered that a lid was missing from one of my metal garbage cans. The wind had blown pretty hard the night before, so I looked around behind the hedge, in the flowers, peeked into the neighboring yards but found no sign of it.

The lids fit tight, but to further prevent any dexterous animal from removing the lid, we always place a heavy brick on top. The brick was found 5 feet away, not in the front seat of a car with a broken window, but on the ground in some weeds. I should be thankful?

So there was my lonely garbage can sitting there naked, empty because the trash had been picked up a couple days earlier, and completely exposed without its top on.

This is a small town and not that many people still have metal garbage cans, so I'm scouring the town to find the culprit and I'm sure it wasn't Rocky Raccoon or Scooby Doo. What the thief doesn't know is there is a very distinguishing mark on the lid, so I'll know for sure it's mine.

If you're the animal responsible for removing my lid, bring that sucker back. The lid and can belong to each other. They've been together for ten years. Yeah, I know it's probably only worth a couple bucks, but if it's that cheap, was it really worth stealing in the first place? It's not the value, it's the principle. As far as I'm concerned you belong in the can, and I'm not talking trash.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Short people got business

Recently the world’s tallest (7 feet 9 inches) man and the world’s shortest (2 feet 4 inches) man met. The tiny fellow crawled on top of a table in order to shake the hand of the tall guy.

I'm short, but I've never had to stand on a table to shake hands with someone tall. I have gotten a crick in my neck from social conversations with tall people at parties. You get to be a pretty good acrobat when you're short: climbing onto the kitchencounter to get something out of the cabinet, hoisting your body weight on the grab bar to get up into the pickup truck, jumping up and down so you can see over the heads and shoulders at sporting events, sitting with your legs tucked under your body as a booster seat at the movie theater.

There are some dangers as a short person. Sometimes your feet dangle in the air when you're sitting in a chair. This is especially difficult if you're sitting on a bar stool and the foot rest is 3-5 inches away from your foot. I have been known to fall out of a bar stool before I've even had one drink. You’re welcome to use that as an excuse, too.

Physical shortcomings make you adapt. For example, I try to avoid crowds as much as possible. It's claustrophobic for a small person trapped in sea of much taller people. Besides, I get rather tired of smelling armpits and rear ends.

I am now officially the shortest person in my extended family. My daughters passed me up a decade ago and the youngest nephew hit that goal at age 12. I quit growing at 13. Now I'm facing the fact that I'll probably be shrinking in the coming years. I'm melting, I'm melting! Yet I’m looking forward to being the little old lady behind the wheel of the car that looks like it is driving itself.

I have discovered a couple good things about being short. First, people think short women are younger than they are. This was a problem when I was 25, but in middle age it gives me great joy. Another thing I discovered was that a whole bunch of really sexy women are/were short - Mae West (4'11"), Elizabeth Taylor (5'2"), Dolly Parton (5'), Susan Lucci (5'2"), Marilyn Monroe (5'4'), and Scarlet Johansson (5'4"). I like to think of myself as halfway between Dolly and Liz with half the wit of Mae.

My husband is always singing "Short People Got No Business" to taunt me, despite knowing that I've managed several businesses simultaneously during the past three decades. I just respond with my favorite saying, "Dynamite comes in small packages." We may just look like little sticks, but boy can we make an impact when our fuses are lit.

Monday, July 21, 2008

There are some good chick flicks

Since I got on the subject yesterday about how much I hate chick flicks, I'm going to have to back-pedal a bit. I do have a few favorites that are sometimes included in the chick flick genre, but I know for a fact that many men like these movies, too and I have even seen some male eye-tearing (not eye-rolling) or laughing with the ladies at the theatre while watching some of these:

1. Shirley Valentine
2. Bridges of Madison County
3. Remains of the Day
4. Jackie Brown
5. Sense and Sensibility
6. Bridget Jones's Diary
7. Breakfast at Tiffany's
8. Alien

There are probably more I enjoy, but my brain isn't functioning properly with "Dancing Queen" still rolling around in my head.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Better than Mamma Mia!

If you're looking for another movie better than "Mamma Mia!" using contemporary music as part of the story line, rent "Across the Universe." It was in theaters last fall and it features 33 Beatles songs. The storyline reflects the world during the 1960's time period of the music. Directed by Broadway's Julie Taynor (The Lion King), it has stunning visuals, relevant history and social issues, and fantastic music, with cameo appearances from Salma Hayek, Bono, Eddie Izzard, and Joe Cocker.

OMG Mamma Mia!

Last night the theaters for "Dark Knight" were packed, so we settled for "Mamma Mia!" which was also on our list, based upon its successful Broadway run and some bloggers' recommendations.

Meryl Streep's acting was great as usual. The Abba music was good and typically ear-wormable. Other than that, this was just another stupid chick flick. I put this in the same category as "Thelma & Louise" and "Bonneville." I'm not sure why people have been known to dance in the aisles at the end of the Broadway show, unless they were just happy it was over.

One reviewer had said the Meryl Streep was 20 years too old for the part, and I really didn't understand that comment since Streep and I are approximately the same age, and I have a daughter in her early twenties, too. After viewing the production, I see where he was coming from.

There was definitely a time/age problem. If the time period was supposed to be the present, then Donna would have been 38 when her child was born. That part is realistic, but it doesn't accurately reflect the back story of Donna having a child at a very young age and Donna's mother kicking her out of the house. It also doesn't reflect the flashbacks of the 1970's hippy looks of the three lovers.

If the time period was supposed to be twenty years after the 1970's, then Donna, her friends, and three lovers are ALL 20 years too old for their parts, since all of them are in their 50's.

Roger Ebert often says that a good movie can overcome illogic. If the audience can suspend belief, then one can enjoy a film and overlook these improbabilities. I just couldn't do that with this movie.

Besides the whole thing was stupid. Perhaps my friends and I are from a different world, but I had a difficult time identifying with these three women.

Personally, I liked Streep's character better in "Bridges of Madison County " and Julie Walters' character in "Educating Rita." Christine Baranski seems to play the same character from "Cybil" in everything she does. Pierce Brosnan was miscast. Colin Firth is always lovable. Stellen Skarsgard, an obvious tribute to the Swedish roots of Abba, seemed misplaced and shallow compared to his other greater roles in "Breaking the Waves" and "Hunt for Red October."

Overall, I'd say skip the theater on this one and watch it on DVD if you're into chick flicks.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

How I spent my summer vacation

Well, not really. Truth is, I haven't been on a vacation for 17 years. I have been away from blogging for a while. Here's what I've been doing the past three weeks:

- had a 4 day visit from daughter #1 from San Fran, CA

- dug out seven large 50 year old yews in front of my office and replanted new shrubs & flowers

- assisted plumber in installing new 1/2 bath fixtures at home by helping carry old toilet down flight of stairs

- spent July 4th 3-day weekend in bed with sprained back due to yews and toilet

- had a 4 day visit from brother-in-law and wife from Los Angeles

- did approximately 25 hours of volunteer work and about 6 days of actual billable work

- roamed around a flea market and grocery store

- sh*t, shaved, and showered

- blah, blah, blah

And now you know what I've been up to. Aren't you sorry you asked?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Revenge is Sweet

A few posts ago I was ranting about gum chewers and the wads they leave behind. One of my blogging buddies bragged about his gum chewing, but it seems Karma stepped in and provided some balance.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Que pasa?

Hippy Dippy Weatherman dies. Forecast for tonight: dark.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

You got what you thought you wanted

I'm not one to sympathize with people who are willing to compromise their individual freedom for financial gain. This blogger seems to sympathize with a religious leader who doesn't like the fact he can't preach politics in the pulpit without losing his church's tax exempt status. Freedom of speech and all that.

If you're in bed with the government, how can you not realize that you'll eventually be getting screwed? When you make a deal, you're agreeing to conditions. Free speech was thrown out the window when his church asked the IRS for tax-exempt status (for tax deductible donations to subsidize his pastoral salary). That's right, you request that status - the government doesn't force you to be tax-exempt, it just forces the regulations on you in exchange. Did they really think they would get something for nothing? This same reverend has probably preached at least once about selling your soul to the devil.

If people want true freedom, let them act like free men and live without government interference. Unfortunately, it has become the modern mind-set that government is good and citizens voluntarily sign their freedoms away to Big Brother, and especially for financial considerations. Here's another example. Farmers used to be independent fellows, but now they sign contracts to let the government tell them what to plant, what not to plant and where to plant in exchange for those big subsidy checks. There are hundreds of other examples.

Just try living life without asking the government for anything and find out what freedom really is. True freedom is difficult enough to maintain in these times of big government, but voluntarily giving away your freedom is simply downright foolish.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Please tell me this isn't the end

This listing in the Champaign-Urbana Craigslist has me worried:Hopefully the theater is not going out of business at the end of the lease period.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

What do you do with your wad?

This weekend I noticed my foot was bothering me. I thought my shoe had a rock stuck on the sole, but after examining it I discovered it was a nasty piece of chewed gum and it wasn't about to be easily extracted from its new home. I tried scraping my foot along the street curbing and running my foot back and forth numerous times on a gravel area, all to no avail. It took a knife and some digging to get the dang thing off.

Not only do I consider this totally disgusting, I find the entire concept of gum chewing repulsive. I pretty much equate the action as human cud chewing.

Then there's the whole other issue of smacking, chomping, and drooling that often accompanies it. And don't even tell me how appealing it is to place a popped bubble from your face, back into your mouth. After it's used, it seems the etiquette is to throw your big pink wad onto the ground or hide it under a table top

I'm not afraid of gum like Oprah is, but if I could ban it from polite society, I wouldn't hesitate to do so.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Wrong pests removed

I thought this article was about Congress.

Buyer's Remorse

Some people don't want to spend money for an attorney, surveyor, or title search when buying real estate. It's a save money by doing-it-yourself world , you know. Some people buy property and rarely check on it. If you're one of those people who think hiring professionals is a waste of money, read this.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

My new favorite singer

Adele. Love her beautiful haunting voice.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Black and white issues

The media and Afro-American leaders are elated that a "black" man has finally risen to the rank of Democratic Presidential Candidate, and eluding to attacks of racism by his leading competitor and by the opposing party. Obama is as much white as he is black and calling him "black" is an insult to his mother and the white grandparents who raised him. He is living proof of the blended ethnicity of modern America.

That being said, instead of being so focused on race, the public should be concentrating on what Obama is really saying in his speeches. The man is a socialist disguised as a melting pot, articulate, glamour boy. Be careful what you wish for. The devil comes in many forms.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Pane in the Ass

Walking down the street with your pants down can get you in trouble.

Good bye, Mr. Chips

The inventor of the Pringles can died this week and was buried in his own design.

Just another use for recycling those tubular containers:

Bird watching

It's less than six months to Thanksgiving and the turkeys are already on the


When wild turkeys fly into windows around here , it's most often this variety

Friday, May 30, 2008

Justice is served.

Thank goodness the Texas Supreme Court had enough sense to correct the improper taking of the FLDS children. The State now must find and process evidence on individual cases of child abuse within the religious sect - which is what they should have done in the first place and not condemn the entire group. It wouldn't be suprising to find that it was an employee of the Texas child protection agency who set up the fake phone call that started it all.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

And the winner isn't...

I attended our high school's Academic Awards Night for the 2008 graduating class. My MIL left money to fund a generous scholarship, so we go each year to see who the recipient is.

This year the graduating class consists of 105 students (yes, we are a small town). Of those, 73 students (70%) received awards at the Academic Awards Night. There were 22 scholarships given and the rest were certificates and honors. The ceremonies did not include any sports, music, or other extra-curricular awards; they have their own awards nights. It would have been quicker to honor the students not receiving academic awards.

It has always been my contention that, in the last couple decades, schools have been too generous handing out awards. It comes from this notion that we must build students' self-esteem, and this is done by giving nearly everyone an award, be it financial, certificate, ribbon, plaque, or trophy. Not only does this practice dilute the value of an "award," it results in over-inflation of these children's egos. The real world won't be so kind to most of them, and they'll be headed into some real disappointment when they are not highly praised by a college professor or future employer for what the outside world considers normal expectations.

The other thing that worries me is how 70% of the graduating class can qualify for "academic" honors. Are the schools broadening qualifications for these honors or has the curricula been so dumbed down that even an average student can be found frequently on the "honor roll?" It is highly suspect that 70% of the class are superior academically.

This is not novel to the current class, but an observation over the past few years. Our school system is touted as one of the better ones in the area, but many of the graduates find it extremely difficult once exposed to more rigorous competition in large universities. The students would be better served by reducing awards and raising academic standards. They will learn more from defeat and raising themselves to higher educational standards than they will ever get from a worthless certificate that will be long-forgotten a year after graduation.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Full of Air

If you're one of the very few people who have never experienced a belly full of gas in a public situation, then you wouldn't find the humor in the latest Gas-X commercial. A man is being interviewed for a job:

"Impressive resume. Flatulent in three languages. I see you graduated at the top of your gas."

Assitant interupts: "Excuse me. Your son Rip is on line toot."

In these situations, no matter how hard you concentrate, bathroom humor comes to the forefront of your mind.

So I found it most amusing that immediately following this particular commercial, the first reporter to appear on the CBS Evening News was Dr. John LaPoop (er, LaPook).

Monday, April 28, 2008

Spring Fever

Now I know why I am seeing more and more of these so-called Amish Barn Stars: It's mating season.

These two were caught in the act this morning . Well, it is spring.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Being different is criminal

As the FLDS drama continues in Texas, it appears that perhaps public opinion is starting to sway toward the religious sect. It is beginning to look like another example of punishing all for the sins of a few. Or punishing the victims instead of the perpetrators.

Removing over 400 children from their families to barracks and on to foster homes, unlike any home-life they have been accustomed, will certainly confuse and possibly permanently harm them. Displacing all of them for the sake of saving a few is not the answer.

Better police investigations and stronger evidence singling out the perpetrators, then removing the alleged perpetrators from the compound would have been a better solution. Children could have stayed with their mothers and innocent fathers would not have a guilty shadow hanging over them.

Just because a group of people look and live differently from "normal" society, does not mean that they are all criminals. Speak to a Catholic priest, a Muslim, or a young black man. Suspicion in this country is rampant and tolerance has a long way to go.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Lars and real life

Last night I finally watched Lars and the Real Girl and thoroughly enjoyed this little movie gem. A delusional lonely guy finds love with a sex doll, and his family and entire community go along with it.

Perhaps being from a small community helps one identify with this subject matter. Every town has "local color", but those characters seem to stand out more in little towns and people seem more willing to engage in the farce.

My town had Red, who was certain he owned a Corvette manufacturing plant in Kankakee, IL. People would have long conversations with him about the plant and the cars being produced, and he was eager to discuss his business venture. Of course we all knew there was no business, but we all went along with it because in some way we all loved Red for who he was.

When I lived in a small Alabama town, there was Cliff, a mid-forty-ish man with Down's Syndrome, who loved showing off his endless supply of colorful ties and happily went from store to store with his broom, offering his help to clean. Although not delusional, he had his own quirkiness that was endearing to everyone around him and when he died, there was no other funeral so largely attended.

At least in small town America, those who may be considered weirdos elsewhere, are always surrounded by people who love them for simply who they are.

Helping Hand

Here's another excuse for do-it-yourself-ers. There are some health benefits.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Spousal rights

First of all, I must make a disclaimer: I am not supporting any presidential candidate. Period.

Areas of the blogosphere and other media are irate over the fact that Cindy McCain's tax returns were not publicly revealed along with her husband's. "John McCain's lack of transparency is troubling and raises questions about what he's hiding," Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said .

Nevermind the fact that the McCain's hold investments each in their own names and even have a pre-nup agreement regarding their finances. Some groups estimate the McCain's "combined" wealth as $28-100 million. It appears to me that there is no "combined" wealth; it is "his" wealth and "her" wealth, separately. They may be married, but their finances are separate.

Cindy and John McCain's filing status is "married filing separately" and therefore, unlike other candidates who file joint tax returns, Mrs. McCain's tax records are not subject to public scrutiny. She is not running for public office and is not obligated to disclose her finances. The simple truth is that it is none of the public's business what the spouse of a candidate earns or owns. A bad example was set by Theresa Heinz Kerry when she released her private tax returns under political pressure.

Other candidates had the option to file their taxes separately, but apparently chose not to. As a result, the spouse's income on a candidate's joint return become public knowledge when the candidate's tax return is exposed. There is no "lack of transparency" on John McCain's part; his tax return was released as required.

It is surprising to me that antiquated ideas like this still abound in modern American society: that spouses can't/don't have their own investments; that, once married, spouses merge all their income; or even that spouses have the same opinions (political or otherwise).

Monday, April 21, 2008

Stop the insanity!

The election campaigns need to end soon. The pollsters are now analyzing voters who bowl (Clinton over Obama) and voters who drink beer (tie). This was featured news on the Today Show this morning.

I am sick and tired of politics and religion in the news. Thank goodness Danica Patrick won the Indy Japan 300 race.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Earthquake Take

Earthquakes are so rare around these parts that everyone is talking about about Friday's event.

At 4:37 am, like most of the area, I was in bed asleep. The loud rumbling woke me and I thought it must be the cats running wildly around the house, but there was no hissing. Then I thought it must be a large truck hauling a trailer over the pot-hole spotted road nearby. When I finally realized what it was, it was over. Thank you, Mother Nature, I was now awake for the rest of the day.

The last large magnitude earthquake I remember was forty years ago when I was a student at the nearby big university. Asleep again, in my dorm room on the 7th floor of Bromley Hall, I awoke to sounds of screaming young women rushing to the stair cases. I could feel the building sway and roll, but again it was all over before I could do anything other than get out of bed.

I enjoy my sleep and don't like being disturbed. I just wish these things would occur at a more convenient time.

Friday, April 18, 2008

I Am Not A Speed Reader

I admire readers like A Mom's Life (27 books read so far this year), Misc. & Co. (90 books read last year) and my 96 year old FIL (reads 1-2 books/week).

I am a slow reader. I read each book as if it were a textbook and I'll be quizzed on it later. When I read novels, I am analyzing sentence structures, punctuation, and descriptive language. I cannot speed read a page just to get the gist of the story. The blame can be put upon my elementary teacher that introduced me to diagramming sentences. Oh, how I loved doing that - taking things apart and seeing how single parts work together to form something entirely different. That's me - always curious as to what makes things work.

Add my busy work schedule in the first quarter of the year to the snail's pace reading speed, and I find I've only read a handful of books so far this year:

Gone Baby Gone - Dennis Lehane
Prayers For Rain - Dennis Lehane
Six Easy Pieces - Walter Mosley
Devil In a Blue Dress - Walter Mosley
Thirteen Moons - Charles Frazier
Millionaire Mind - Thomas J Stanley

You probably notice a pattern. For some reason, I don't usually like female authors, although there have been a few exceptions over the years, and I seem to be on a crime novel kick. I have especially been enjoying the Walter Mosley books because of his succinct use of words, yet keeping the reader engaged in the characters and storyline. Next up: Mosley's Cinnamon Kiss.