Friday, December 29, 2006

Disconnect! Reboot!

Ok, I absolutely adore (especially the Gallery of Regrettable Food, which leaves me in physical pain from laughing so hard) -- but I found this on the site today and I was laughing like a hyena.

Which became even more funny when we saw a commercial for this lovely item -- The Presto, an email printer that "doesn't need an internet connection" and is "simpler than a computer" for your obviously senile relatives who can't figure out Outlook.

We're worried that Grandma and Grandpa can't learn to use the computer?

Just look at this page. I dare you not to laugh. I double-dog dare you!

Starchy Comfort

We only got about 10" of snow last night, so we dug out and prepared for more snow, which is supposed to continue for the next three days. It's just sort of flurrying right now, but the radar views show a "second wave" coming tonight. So we headed ot the grocery store, just in case.

The Adorable Husband got chains for his car, which was a fabulous idea. We probably wouldn't have made it out of the neighborhood without them, although the roads elsewhere were pretty good.

We had a good laugh on the way home from the store, though -- I apparently connected with my polish/eastern european roots (and he to his equally starch-based Scandinavian ancestry) and we ended up with about fourteen pounds of BREAD. Seriously. If you're going to be trapped in your house for a few days, obviously you need bread, we both thought. Five loaves. And sandwich buns. Over half of the groceries were a bread product of one sort or another. The other half was large hunks of beef.

We're awfully strange. But we can grill steaks for the next four days without a problem, and we have enough in the house to put together a pretty snazzy fondue dinner on New Year's eve withn our friends. We're set!

Hopefully, the airport isn't shut down and chaotic, since we are supposed to leave on Monday for Disneyworld. My family isn't flying out until Tues, so we should be able to settle in beforehand. And if we're late? Well, no problem.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


Bush, last week:
We're making good progress towards coming up with a plan [in Iraq]
I actually sputtered when I heard that on the radio. Bush has said he's not going to make a decision (all hail the Decider!) until 2007. Shouldn't this be a pretty high priority? Weren't you supposed to have a plan before we started all of this? He's just coming up with a plan now? Didn't a commission actually come up with a slew of suggestions? Must not like any of those.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Blizzard, Round II

Ooh, boy! More snow on the way:

There could be between 1 and 2 feet of snow across the Front Range mountains and foothills by early Friday morning. Up to 30 inches could fall in the foothills of Boulder and Jefferson County.

The heaviest amounts of snow are expected to be in the areas west of I-25.
Well, that's us. West of I-25. We got (officially) 25" in the last snowstorm, which is still hanging around. We finally are dug out from the enormous drifts, the dogs have mashed down paths in the backyard so they can pee...and more snow is on the way. A lot more.

Snowfall rates could get up to 2 inches per hour, especially in the foothills along the Front Range. The first wave of the storm will hit the Front Range and I-25 urban corridor. A stronger round of heavy snow is possible for all of northeast and north-central Colorado late Friday into Saturday morning.

The second wave could bring stronger winds and blizzard conditions over the northeastern plains.

The metro area could get 10 to 18 inches of snow by Friday morning because of the storm. Kathy says the foothills could expect 15 to 30 inches and the mountain areas 12 to 24 inches.

Well, I still have enough chocolate, wine, and movies to hunker down and enjoy the snowstorm. I don't have to drive anywhere for work, we have plenty of food in the house, and there's nothing better than sitting in front of the fire reading a book while it snows and blows and blizzards outside. Whee!

The Adorable Husband is (you guessed it!) on call again. He's also supposed to drop off his car to repair the two broken taillights he got in the last blizzard (someone pressed too hard on the plastic cover and broke them). I'm thinking he should keep his car around and not attempt to drive MY car -- which is much closer to the ground and has much wider, smoother tires -- in the snow. We'll have that conversation in the morning before he leaves! I'll remind him to bring a change of clothes and pack his boots in the car.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Best Wishes for the Holidays

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Io Saturnalia, Happy Chanukah! -- pick your particular holy day and I wish you the best for the season and the new year. Hopefully you spent time with your family and friends, celebrating this lovely time of the year with those who are close to you. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Neither Rain nor Snow

We have high hopes for mail delivery today. We finally dug our way to the mailbox and retrieved the last delivery -- which was either Tuesday (before the snow) or possibly Wednesday morning. Nothing since then.

So much for this 'neither rain nor sleet nor snow...appointed rounds' thing!

Not that I blame them, of course. It took two days for most of us to get out of the driveway! I understand that Fedex is going to do saturday and sunday deliveries in order to make up for the two-day delay form the snowstorm. I'm not sure what the Post Office and UPS are going to do. Although I'm not sure that they would be able to get to the house even if they did go out.

Snow doesn't usually stick around for more than a day or so here in Boulder....Having all this white stuff still on the ground is a bit odd.

Where do people GET these ideas?

I get Archaeology Magazine, because I'm a weird information junkie. They have very approachable and interesting articles on current excavations and historical finds. I think I originally signed up when we went to Egypt (because of the recent articles on KV5 and the Golden Mummies), and I just kept reading it. Anyway, in this month's edition, there is a small sidebar talking about the results of a Gallup poll on science. It says:
49% of Americans do not believe humans evolved over millions of years.
51% of Amerians believe humans and dinosaurs co-existed
85% of Americans think archaeologists study dinosaurs

HALF of Americans don't believe in evolution. HALF of Americans are so ignorant of basic science and history that they think Tyrannosaurs hunted humans.

Of that half, many simply haven't learned anything else. Others have embraced this idea (despite being contrary to every actual fact) because their religion demands that it be true in order to function. The first group? I can sort of understand that. The others? I can't wrap my head around someone who doesn't understand that evolution (change) has occurred and continues to occur in the world.

That last statistic is a bit more understandable-- most people don't really have any great interest in archaeology and paleontology and probably don't differentiate between them.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Force

Did you know in 2001 that over 500,000 people listed their religion as Jedi (as in Jedi Knight of the Star Wars universe) in censuses around the world. Australia, New Zealand, Canada, UK -- people around the world are writing in "Jedi" when asked for the religious affiliation. Some poeple mistakenly believe that getting a certain number of people claiming a religion will make it "official", but this is not true (according to snopes).

A note from the Australian Bureau of Statistics notes that urging people to put int Jedi on tne 2006 census may result in fines for falsifying info on the census forms. However, this doesn't appear to have stopped people.

In Australia more than 70,000 people declared themselves members of the Jedi in the 2001 census. The Australian Bureau of Statistics issued an official press release in response to media interest on the subject.

Over 53,000 people listed themselves as Jedi in New Zealand. New Zealand has the highest per capita population of reported Jedi in the world, with 1.5% marking "Jedi" as their religion on the census - more than those marking themselves as buddhist or

In the UK, they have actually assigned Jedi its own code for reference purposes, since:

"It was confirmed prior to the census that citizens were not liable for a fine in relation to question 10 (on religion).[9] In England and Wales 390,000 people (0.7%) stated their religion as Jedi on their 2001 Census forms, surpassing Sikhism, Judaism, and Buddhism, and making it the fourth largest reported religion in the country."

Pictures at Last

The Adorable Husband did finally manage to get home -- or at least, get the car to the entrance of the culdesac. We don't get plowed, really, so the snow is 3-4' deep in drifts over the road. We officially got 25" in Erie, although we decided in our culdesac that it was closer to 30" after Stu borrowed the snowblower and cleared the sidewalks and driveways. I didn't let him do ours -- the Husband absolutely loves to snowblow. Weird, eh?

It was actually quite lovely outside. I love this kind of weather. And, since the Adorable Husband did get his car back here, I had the camera. SO -- a few pictures:

The paths I had to tromp in the backyard so Rukh could get out and pee. The fence is 4' tall -- and this is after it got warmer and things "sank" a bit. At one point last night, the snow was all the way up to the top of the fence!

Yup, that's actually him, snowblowing the street. One of the people in the neighborhood has a little front-loader, and went around plowing at least a single lane on each of the streets. He just did it because he "likes to help" -- He eventually made it to our culdesac and got a lane to everyone's driveway. We gave him a bottle of wine and a hefty tip, especially since he completely plowed out Cooper's driveway (they are out of town, and her mother lives int he MIL-apartment over the garage. She's disabled and can't shovel, so we were in the process of shovelling her out when the guy in the cat showed up. Very nice.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Submarine Dog

It's still snowing a bit -- and our yard is one smooth, drifted expanse of snow (from the front door to the street, really) and in the backyard, the drifts are 4-5 feet tall.

It's been a bit of a problem getting everyone outside; I've had to shovel the porch off every time and the drifts are taller than the beasts. I let Uulaq outside yesterday afternoon and went back inside to get a hat. When I came Uulaq. Huh?

No, wait -- there she is, bulldozing her way through the snow with only her nose showing. She doesn't hop up over the snow, she just plows through it like a u-boat. Every once in awhile she jumps up to see where she is, then disappears again under the drifts.

Rukh is not quite so excited about it, since he's fuzzless and has a harder time getting around without the horsepower in that rear leg to get him through. Standing in the snow when it's up over your shoulders can't be fun!

The Adorable Husband tried to get home last night (I'm not sure why, some misguided need to shovel the driveway, I think) and wasn't able to get into our streets. The entrance to our development was too deep to drive in (and we don't get plowed at all) and he had to have a few people help him dig out and then headed back to the hospital. He spent hte night there, since if he was called back in, there would be no way to get back, even if he managed to get home. He's going to try again later today, but I think his chances are pretty slim. We're not going anywhere for a few days, I don't think. We can snowblow our own driveway, but there's still a half-mile of winding streets tht are utterly drifted over.

But we have plenty of chocolate, plenty of wine, and plenty of movies -- fun!

BTW -- I would have taken cool pictures of the snow, but the Adorable Husband has the camera in his car. Hopefully he took a few.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Snow! Snow! Snow!

Well, we officially have a blizzard warning here in snowy Colorado -- and looking out at the horizontal snow and drifts up over my front steps, it very well may be one.

The street is even with the curbs, and the snow is piling up about 2-3" an hour, with 2' expected. Whoopee! We have plenty of chocolate, movies, and popcorn to keep us amused while we're snowed in. Yeah!

I'm very, very glad that I don't have to drive anywhere to work. The Adorable Husband got in this morning before it got really bad, but he's going to have a fun drive home this evening, if things progress the way the weather forecast suggests they will.

Chemo, Round Two

Back up to the vet today for a second round of chemo for the beast yesterday. They couldn't do it last week, because his white count was far too low. Much better this time, and they did the second dose of Carboplatin. He wooed everyone at the office with his charming ways, and slept through most of the treatment. What a ham.

He seems to be doing pretty well today -- a little woofly, perhaps, but we've got him on anti-nausea drugs prophylactically. Hopefully that will forestall any barfing. Based on our experience last time, he should be back and bouncing around in a day or so. Yeah, Rukh!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Secret Services

Secret service protection for ex-presidents was begun in the 60s, after the assassination of JFK. It was originally set up for lifetime security for ex-presidents. But in 1994, Congress amended the rule to offer only 10 years of protection to ex-presidents. The change became effective in 1997, so the Shrub is the first president to leave office under this rule.

So of course, there are some murmurings that this is not adequate and that the rule needs to be changed for the Shrub, because he faces a higher level of threats that previous presidents. Do note, though, that a Republican congress changed the law, and enacted it. But, a democrat was in office then, of course.

They're probably right that Bush needs more/better protection. He is really not well-liked at all. Specific threats are a valid reason to extend protection.

Former Secret Service agent Chuck Vance, who is a former son-in-law of
former President Ford, said Bush's post-presidency will include a variety of

"One thing is, he is a relatively young man, and young men are more active
and always on the road," said Vance, now a security consultant in Virginia.
"That takes a lot of manpower and a lot of team effort."

And, Vance noted, Bush will be a target.

"He is the only president that invaded a country without provocation and
without it being started by the other side. I think he has gained a lot of
enmity. ... There are a lot of people who resent this president, both externally
and internally, some of whom have lost sons and daughters and had people injured
in the war in Iraq," he said.

Looks like some things are coming home to roost. And could they have used the word "former' more often in that first sentence?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Xmas Gambling

My TUSC Christmas party was, as usual, a BLAST. Nearly everyone in the office made it (a rarity when so many people travel all the time) and we had a fabulous time. Of course, I was out shopping for a dress earler in the day, because I bought a really cute, dressy outfit online about a week ago, but wasn't really happy with it. Besides, when else are you going to wear red velvet?

Good food, fabulous company -- and we got to gamble with fake money to our hearts content. I lost every penny of my fake money, but the Adorable Husband did quite well. Well al have fun, but it's funny how competitive we get. The Texas Hold-em table got pretty rowdy!

Really good, geeky presents, too -- backup drives, ipods, gps trackers. We really ought to wear out propeller beanies to the party. We are such nerds.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Nickels and Pennies

Well, here's an argument for getting rid of smaller coins, if I ever heard one. With the current market for metals, a penny is actually worth about 1.12 cents of materials, and a nickel is worth about 6.99 cents. They're worth more as melted ingots than as coins.

As a result
U.S. Mint officials said Wednesday they were putting into place rules prohibiting the melting down of 1-cent and 5-cent coins, with a penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 for people convicted of violating the rule.

I have a feeling that's not going to stop anyone, and how would they know that any specific metal ingot of zinc or nickel or copper came from melted coins? And I'm rather stuck on a simple question: why not make all coins from some cheapo metal (aluminum?) so that they don't have to worry about the value of the metal in the coin being related to the face value.

Coins are just placeholders for "real" currency, anyways -- like dollar bills represent a specific value. Bills are just paper, why can't coins be just metal? They may have at one time been actual currency amounts, but perhaps it's time we dispense with that particular charade.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

HD Reality

Finally! After three tries, several crabby phonecalls, and quite a bit of work on the part of the Adorable Husband, we have HD cable in the theater.

The first attempt, they gave us a window of four hours (8-12), called at 11:30 to tell us they were running about two hours late. We had a ton fo things to do, so we rescheduled. Not knowing at the time, of course, that we'd wait 3-4 weeks for an appointment.

Second appointment comes around and the two guys who come are supremely puzzled by the fact that the current cables are buried in the walls and unable to grasp that we want them to run four NEW wires into the basement. HD requires that each box have it's own home-run wire to the new dish, no switching, so the wiring we have is not adequate). They talk about using the existing wiring for the two downstairs tvs and then running wire all the way around the house, in two directions, to reach the other two. We have a centralized cable "box" downstairs that we want all the tvs to run from. They paced around the house, hemming and hawing, and when they realized they'd have to actually pull new wire down through the porch....they told us to reschedule and left.

The Adorable Husband was FURIOUS. They basically decided that it was too hard to pull the wires and told him on the phone that he'd have to do the pulling through the deck, since they wouldn't pull up any boards to do it. Apparenlty they didn't even LOOK at the porch, since it took the husband about fifteen minutes to get the cable through. I didn't hear his conversation with the DirecTV people, but they rescheduled the appointment to be back in two days.

So a new guy shows up, having been briefed in detail about the goat-rodeo that is our installation, and he does it -- perfectly. Two hours, and he pulled four new cables, put up a new dish, hid all the wires, tested everything. Voila! HD picture on the big screen.

Only three months after we asked for it the first time. I've been incredibly happy with DirecTV on a day-to-day basis, but the intalls and upgrades have been painful. We did make sure to call and compliment them on the final appointment. I think they ought to be giving us stuff for free, but at this point, I'm just glad everything works.

No HD tv for months, what a stupid first-world kind of problem, eh?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Electronic Mozart

In honor of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's 250th birthday, his musical works are now available online...for free. All of it. Piano works, symphonies, concertos, etc.

The website draws from the original Neue Mozart Ausgabe paper version
developed since 1954 by internationally renowned musicologists and comprising
over 125 booklets of sheet music, whose origin has been painstakingly authenticated, the Salzburg foundation said.

The "Digital Mozart Edition" (DME) website -- -- features over 600 works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, separated into ten categories, from concertos for orchestra to chamber music and pieces for piano.
The site is based on Salzburg, and in the first 12 hours had over 400,000 hits. It can be a bit slow, and sometimes switches between German and English for no reason, but...yeah!

Only in Tecas

At first, I thought this was a joke. It's not. This is definitely a serious issue that needs to be addressed by the Texas legislature:
Rep. Edmund Kuempel, a Seguin Republican, has filed a bill for the 2007
legislative session that would allow legally blind hunters to use a laser sight,
or lighted pointing instrument. The devices are forbidden for sighted hunters.

Keep in mind that blind hunters have always been able to hunt in Texas. They have to have a sighted hunter along. This really only changes their ability to use a laser sight to assist their "spotter" in helping them aim. About fifteen states and canada allow blind hunters, with appropriate assistance, to hunt.

Having Children

Ok, I found this on one of the lists I frequent and it had me laughing like a hyena.

Mess Test - Smear peanut butter on the sofa and curtains. Place a fish stick behind the couch and leave it there all summer.

Toy Test - Obtain a 55 gallon box of Legos (you may substitute roofing tacks if you wish). Have a friend spread them all over the house. Put on a blindfold and take off shoes. Try to walk to the bathroom or kitchen. Do not scream because this would wake a child at night.

Grocery Store Test - Borrow one or two small animals (goats are best) and take them with you as you shop. Always keep them in sight and pay for anything they eat or damage.

Dressing Test - Obtain one large, unhappy, live octopus. Stuff into a small net bag making sure that all the arms stay inside.

Feeding Test - Obtain a large plastic milk jug. Fill halfway with water. Suspend from the ceiling with a cord. Start the jug swinging. Try to insert spoonfuls of soggy cereal into the mouth of the jug, while pretending to be an airplane. Now dump the contents of the jug on the floor.

Night Test - Prepare by obtaining a small cloth bag and fill it with 8-12 pounds of sand. Soak it thoroughly in water. At 3:00pm, begin to waltz and hum with the bag until 9:00pm. Lay down your bag and set your alarm for 10:00pm. Get up, pick up your bag, and sing every song you have ever heard. Make up about a dozen more and sing these too until 4:00am. Set alarm for 5:00am. Get up and make breakfast. Keep this up for 5 years. Look cheerful.

Ingenuity Test - Take an egg carton. Using a pair of scissors and pot of paint, turn it into an alligator. Now take a toilet paper tube and turn it into an attractive Christmas candle. Use only scotch tape and a piece of foil. Last, take a milk carton, a ping-pong ball, and an empty box of Cocoa Puffs. Make an exact replica of the Eiffel Tower.

Automobile Test - Forget the BMW and buy a station wagon. Buy a chocolate ice cream cone and put it in the glove compartment. Leave it there. Get a dime. Stick it into the CD player. Take a family-size package of chocolate chip cookies. Mash them into the back seat. Run a rake along both side of the car.

Final Assignment - Find a couple who already has a small child. Lecture them on how they can improve their discipline, patience, tolerance, and toilet training and child’s table manners. Suggest many ways they can improve. Emphasize to them that they should never allow their children to run wild. Enjoy this experience. It will be the last time you will have all the answers.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

No Chemo Today

We all headed up to Vet Specialists today for Rukh's second chemo appointment, and the bloodwork showed that his white count is simply too low to do another dose. They tested it three times, just to sure it wasn't a glitch (which leads me to wonder just how low was it?) and we have to reschedule for next Tuesday instead.

Rukh's been doing really well, although a bit tired. He's been out walking, and seems pretty dang perky. But his white count is so low that we've got him on full-time antibiotics. This isn't really a sign that the chemo is working -- just that the side-effect of chemo (depressing the immune system) is certainly occuring.

It's all a crap shoot anyways. We're just playing the numbers -- hoping that we catch any incipient tumor cells now with the chemo. There may not be any cancer cells at all (although this is unlikely) -- even if we see clear xrays at his next appointment, it doesn't mean that there either were or weren't cancerous cells in his lungs, just that we dont' see them now

So, a week's reprieve on the projecto-barfing. At least he only feels sick for a day or so, if his attitude and behavior are any indication. Grossly nauseous for about a day, then almost back to normal.

Still no hair on his butt, though.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Lions and Tigers and...

My nephew is SIX today. It's hard to comprehend that he's six, really. I can't quite think of my sister as old enough to have a six year old child.

For his birthday, I sent him a larger-than-lifesize, extremely realistic, fuzzy, remote-controlled tarantula. It creeps across the floor quite like a scuttling spider, according to my sister, who shrieked at the very thought of a 7" spider -- even a fake one.

I love being the childless aunt and getting the good presents!


For his birthday, I got the Adorable Husband a wireless weather station thingy, that measures wind speed and direction, temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, and rainfall. It's a pretty spiffy new toy, and he spent the day setting it up and calibrating it. We now know just about everytihng you ever wanted to know about the weather in our backyard -- and have the ability to take measurements every five minutes and store them for years on the computer.

I did at least talk him out of trying to mount it on the top of the roof. I had horrible visions of him sliding off and crashing on his head. Our roof is not for the faint-hearted, and we'd need a cherry-picker to get up there. Either that, or he'd have to hang over the edge and try to screw things into the soffits. Not the best idea, if you ask me.

I, of course, was banished. This often happens when the Husband gets a new toy, since I read the instrutions and then attempt to take over installation or configuration of things. Apparently, I had stepped over the invisible line from helpful to annoying at some point in the morning and every single thing I said or did set his teeth on edge. I retreated to my office to play my new computer game until things were bolted to poles in the back yard and all setup had been completed. Sometimes, discretion is the better part of valor.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

16 Colors

One of my friends is buying a house -- he's been looking for a bit and found the perfect house about a mile or so from us, in one of the new subdivisions. Cute ranch house, and he bought it in time to get to pick all the cabinets, hardware, colors, flooring, etc.

Considering that he is also a believer in the idea that men can only name 16 colors, he asked me to come along and give him a hand. He'd already picked out lovely cinnamon-colored maple cabinets, but when it came to carpet colors and tile, he wasn't as sure. So -- off I went to the builder's showroom to pick things.

Boy, the Adorable Husband is REALLY glad that I'm not doing this for our own house. Yikes. I have the unerring ability to find and love the most expensive thing in the place -- the tiles that are $200 apiece, the most expensive carpet. I am a bit more realistic than that, and with my friend's budget he's trying to get the most bang for the buck for upgrades and stuff. On my own? I'd have a hard time not going hog-wild in the antiqued tuscan stone tile and granite countertops. It's like decorating overload.

My friend has good taste, though, and it's fun to see him so excited about getting his own place.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Power-mad HOA

A woman in Pagosa Springs, CO has put up a wreath shaped like a peace symbol. In her mind, a symbol of the season, and her hopes for a more peaceful future. But the rest of her subdivision have decried it as an anti-war statement (like that's a bad thing?) or even...satanism! (Um, just what is the color of the sky in their world?)
Some residents who have complained have children serving in Iraq, said Bob
Kearns, president of the Loma Linda Homeowners Association in Pagosa Springs. He
said some residents have also believed it was a symbol of Satan
"Three or four" residents in the 200-home development complained. Ooh. A huge issue, obviously. But the real travesty of this situation is that Kearns, the HOA president, is apparently on an enormous ego-driven power trip and he wants the wreath down. Here's what really frosts my cookies:

Kearns ordered the committee to require Jensen to remove the wreath, but members refused after concluding that it was merely a seasonal symbol that didn't say anything. Kearns fired all five committee members
Oh-ho! He "ordered" them to make a specific decision, and then when they didn't comply, fired them. Over "three or four" complaints. While I sympathize with the family with a child in Iraq, why is a peace-symbol a threat? How on earth does it minimize their child's involvement? And people wonder why HOA's despised.
If my HOA demanded that I take down a peace-symbol wreath, I'd pay the fine. And believe me, next year's display would be even more controversial.

Xmas Party Success

Well, the Adorable Husband's office party was here last night, a fine party with much wine and good food.

Of course, we now have about eight pounds of leftover Honey-Baked Ham. Everyone brought so much food we were all reduced to sitting in lethargic heaps and sighing contentedly afterwards. I think that's the mark of a good dinner party!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

It's Important Because I Read It

That's an interesting question. It's certainly an important part of our
deliberations, and it was certainly an important part of our discussions this
morning. Some reports are issued and just gather dust. And truth of the matter
is, a lot of reports in Washington are never read by anybody. To show you how
important this one is, I read it [Bush - conference on Iraq recommendations]
Ooh. He read it. And we should know how important it is because he actually read it. I supposed in a way that's true. It's well known that he is an incurious sort and that anything crossing his desk has to be short and sweet, since he doesn't read often -- or much.

The press conference is pretty positive, though -- something needs to change and despite the fact that making any changes at all is a huge bother to The Decider, there really isn't much choice.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Out Walking

It's been a month since surgery, and Rukh is doing great. (Well, except for that serious barfing incident). He's getting around in the house really well, and seems to be doing ok outside.

He even trundled (more like crashed) down the stairs into the basement to sit with us while we watched a movie. We've been keeping the door shut before this, to prevent him from trying the staircases, but we decided that he was getting pretty antsy and if he was going to attempt to do two flights of stairs, we might as well do it while we're home and could help him back up. We left the door open, and about fifteen minutes into Davinci Code, amid much crashing and thumping, he made it down the stairs. He had a hard time getting back up, but with a bit of a boost, he managed. He hasn't tackled the second floor yet,since he has to go up first, and that is more daunting.

He spends most of his days lounging about in the house, getting up a few times to go outside and pee, maybe walk to the other end of the yard, but definitely not enough to keep him in any kind of physical shape. If he doesn't build strength in his leg, he's just going ot have problems forever. He gets tired so easily, and his leg tends to give out after any sort of exertion. We need to work more on the physical therapy side of things.

So, the Adorable Husband took him out for a short walk this evening -- just out the front door (and down the four steps) and around the culdesac a bit before coming back inside. I stayed inside, because I get so nervous for Rukh and probably freak him out. He managed like a champ. I don't think he's every going to do long distances, but he seemed to appreciate the new scenery and getting out to stretch his legs.

On other news, we were going to board them for the evening when he host the christmas party, with all the people, but the vet's office called and told me that he's overdue on his shot for kennel cough. Everything that I've read says not to give dogs any immunizations when they are on chemo, and without the shots we won't risk him going to the kennel and being exposed. So, they are probably going to stay home with us and mooch food from all the party guests. I'm waiting for a call from the oncologist, just to be sure.

Testicles and tradition

Some right-wingers are upset because Keith Ellison, the new Muslim congressman from Minnesota, doesn't plan to take his oath on the Bible, but on the Qu'ran.

As he should. The entire tradition of "testimony", or swearing, is to add that extra oomph to your words by affirming whatever it is on top of/in front of a representation of your religious belief -- I assume to intimate that you believe that god is listening and you'd be a fool to go back on your word.
He should not be allowed to do so,” columnist Dennis Prager writes [...] Insofar
as a member of Congress taking an oath to serve America and uphold its values is
concerned, America is interested in only one book, the Bible. If you are
incapable of taking an oath on that book, don't serve in Congress.
Prager is a narrow-minded idiot. On many counts. By trumpeting that "America picks the book!" that we use, he demonstrates that he knows nothing about the concept of testimony, and even less about the concepts of culture and "America". Despite his hyperbole, allowing someone to swear an oath by their own ethical and moral belief system is not going to be the "downfal of American civilization." Please.

First off, America isn't a theocracy yet, and to say that the bible is the only "book" is arrogant and presumptuous. Despite all the protestations from the religious conservatives, America was not founded as a christian nation, and the founding fathers were not christians in any sense of the word. Deists, yes. Believers in a higher power, yes; but allegiance to a particular dogma was not in the cards. It was something they specifically wanted to avoid.

The Bible doesn't have a monopoly on morals or values (in fact, some of the values and morals expressed in its pages are quite evil and unenlightened, as are those in most religious texts), and more specifically, it doesn't represent the American constitution or culture. It is the beloved book of millions of people around the world, but it is not the only possible icon that we can accept. And it is just that -- an icon of a particular belief. For me, for example, "swearing on a bible" is no more binding than swearing on a copy of Cat in the Hat. Either I am honest and will uphold my word, or I won't. The weight of a biblical blessing on my word is moot. The bible, to a Muslim, is still a holy book, but it is not the scripture of the islamic faith. Swearing on the bible (if you buy the idea that this tradition is meant to add some sort of threat of damnation if you renege) would not be particularly meaningful to someone who doesn't accept the book as their iconic text.

It certainly doesn't have anything to do with supporting a single, unified value system, as Prager writes. I can guarantee that people swearing on a bible don't follow the rules of every single word in it, and they certainly do not share the same interpretation of its words. Not even close. What unified system are they speaking of?

He has never heard of the "no religious tests" clause in the Constitution, I guess. There is a strict prohibition for requiring any officeholder to profess faith of any kind, much less accept any specific articles of faith. This whole hoopla comes up simply because the senator is Muslim -- and the popular culture and media have done a good job demonizing islam and playing to the ignorant masses wanting someone to blame for terrorism. A right wing radio host has suggested that Ellison needs to "prove" that he's a good American -- that shadowy suggestion of a loyalty oath has tossed up its ugly head -- simply because he is Muslim. "I have to tell you, I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, "Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies."

Disgusting. Although I'm sure it plays well with the people who want to preach fear fear fear at all times to retain power.

Prager also is woefully ignorant of history. At least two presidents (Hoover and Pierce) didn't take any oath -- they "affirmed" their office-- and that Teddy Roosevelt, who did take the oath, didn't take it on a Bible.

The bible is used by tradition, because most of our presidents have been nominally christian, or have at least accepted the Bible as a suitable object to swear by. I wonder if we just shouldn't go back to the historic meaning of testify -- related to testes -- and simply reach down, grab hold and swear by something important to you. Although I suppose that's sexist. The constitution allows "affirm" because not all people can or will swear (a word which has some serious meaning to Quakers, and an act that is specifically forbidden by the Bible in Matthew 5:33-37). But it is sort of amusing to point out that the injunction "Swear not at all" is in the book they demand others swear by.

By the time we got to the constitution, we had to deal with the Quakers, who do not swear. (it was important to reach an agreement with the Quakers, since they controlled PA, which included Philadelphia, the city that spawned much of the revoluationary zeal). Quakers do "affirm", and that's why that text is in the Constitution. No law requires (or even suggests) the use of the Bible.
"The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the
several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the
United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation,
to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a
qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

I couldn't even read the comments on the various articles and blogs posted about this topic. The level of bile and venom spewed by some posters is simply amazing.

Propaganda Literature

Instead of trying to build an actual legacy of doing something positive, Bush is going to simply have one created for him. How surprising. Think of what that half a billion dollars could do when applied to something meaningful. School lunches. Actual literacy.

WASHINGTON - He may be a certified lame duck now, but President Bush and his truest believers are about to launch their final campaign - an eye-popping,
half-billion-dollar drive for the Bush presidential library.

Eager to begin refurbishing his tattered legacy, the President hopes to
raise $500 million to build his library and a think tank at Southern Methodist
University in Dallas


The legacy-polishing centerpiece is an institute, which several Bush
insiders called the Institute for Democracy. Patterned after Stanford
University's Hoover Institution, Bush's institute will hire conservative
scholars and "give them money to write papers and books favorable to the
President's policies," one Bush insider said.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Holiday Cheer

We're usually pretty lax about holiday decorations at Chez Phouka. In fact, we have probably put up a tree one out of every three years. If it's just for us, we rarely bother -- although we have succumbed to peer pressure in the neighborhood and put up christmas lights on the eaves almost every year. There are some houses in our neighborhood that are starting to rival the Gridwolds.

But this year, we got the tree up, put up the garlands, hung lights, the whole shebang. Going through the boxes of christmas stuff that has survived the moves and packing and storage, we realized that we really don't have that many decorations. A few silver balls, some family ornaments....that's about it. We've decided this year to hit the post-holiday sales and pick up more ornaments so we can at least have a tree that doesn't look on the sad and shabby side!

Friday, December 01, 2006

I'm going to regret this...

OK, ok. I know I'm going to regret this, but because everyone asked so nicely...the Turkey Feast Plan. Laugh if you will, but it WORKED. Hah!

Setting the Table

Somehow or another, we volunteered to host the Christmas Party for the cath lab this year. We have plenty of space, and we offered to bring the wine, so the unanimous decision to hold the annual potlock hangout party in our kitchen (and, I think, in our movie theater) was made.

Great! I actually love to have parties. Despite the fact that I suffer seriously from itsuparok (the act of going outside often to check if guests are coming) and get all freaky-stressed. We're going to pick up a honey-baked ham and plates and cups with the allotted budget for the party and everyone will bring stuff. The Adorable husband has already started the Christmas Baking Frenzy. I think he's got four batches of cookies done already.

At any rate, we were sitting in the kitchen discussing plates and utensils and such for the party. The usual thought is to get plastic forks and spoons, buy heavy paper plates, and go for it. We already picked up a box of cheap wine glasses from the local Costco, and were laughing that we had almost enough china to have 20 people sit down to dinner. We'd be short a few forks and such, but we could manage in a pinch.

(This is all because we a) have 8 place settings of china from grandma as a wedding gift, b) my MIL has found plates here and there and given them to use to round out the collection, and c) I discovered a few years ago some poor, ignorant person on eBay selling 8 more place settings of our china pattern (Noritake Eminence) for about 300 bucks, including shipping. They didn't know that it's a fairly rare pattern and that Replacements (which stocks old china, silver, etc) usually prices each dinner plate at about $30 and those platters and such upwards of a hundred. We scored 8 place settingsk, a few extra bowls, a sugar and creamer, and another platter. I felt quite guilty about it for awhile. Should I have told them the "street value" of the china? I resisted.)

On a whim, I decide to check out eBay again to see if someone has any stray pieces. They show up once in a while, usually in ones and twos, and we always need a few extra bowls. We have at least 16 of all the plates and saucers, but we have 6 each of three different kinds of bowls. ANd I think a few of the teacups have met a bad end, but we even have a gravy boat -- I've only see one on Replacements before. Anyway...

What do I discover on the marvelous tagsale that is eBay? Eight place settings (dinner plate, salad plate, bread and butter plate, saucer, cup) and serving pieces....for 225 plus shipping. New. In the box. Unused. Stored in the closet for 40 years. I'll probably bid on them before too long.

We don't really need more china, but it's always good to have extra pieces. Besides, as the Adorable Husband pointed out, it means that in a dozen years or so, we can pass on a set of 'great-grandmas china' to one (or more!) of the nieces. Any collection will contain at least some of the pieces that the Adorable Husband's grandma used, even if some of the other pieces are just the same pattern and found from other places. The idea is a nice one.

Off to bid on eBay. Wish me luck!

Home again, home again

I wrapped up at my client before noon today, and the Travel Fairy was good to me. I got a seat on a much, much earlier flight and was home at 3pm instead of 11pm. Very nice. Of course, the flight was packed full, and I had a middle seat between two men who decided that they were really lounging on the couch in fronto f their big screen tv (necessitating a few sharp elbows and concerted pushing back to get any armrest room at all).

Lovely week, great people, good assignment. Gotta love that!