Thursday, April 30, 2009

I'm missing something...

Ok, I'm a little worried. Everything that I piled up to pack fit into the LandsEnd bag that I use as luggage the first time. I even got the extra pair of shoes in there. And the two coats.

I must have forgotten something really pants. I can't believe it all went in there. I thought I had waaaay too much in the pile for clothes and stuff. Six pairs of pants. Eight shirts. Two pairs of shoes. A fleece. A raincoat. Underwear and socks in abundance. Shampoo. Toothpaste.

And the bag is not that big - it actually qualifies as a carry-on (although we don't carry it on, it's just too heavy to schlep around). Eep! I'm sure something is missing.

I have a list, we've checked it. All I can say is, there is no way all those clothes are going to fit back into the bag after I've worn them and washed them a few times.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Looong week

I spent last week in Las Vegas. My dad was in the ICU, on a ventilator, because of a very serious case of pneumonia. He's doing better -- he's in a rehab unit now, and will be doing physical, respiratory, and occupational therapy for the next few weeks, to get him back on his feet.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Feeling Naked

I've worn glasses for what? 20 years? and I am so used to them that I really don't even notice that I have them on anymore.

But boy, do I notice when I don't have them on. Let me explain.

It rained last week -- almost 3" of rain in two days -- and after walking outside I was once again reminded how annoying it is to have glasses in the rain. It's a pain in the butt. Unless they design windshield wipers for glasses, they make it impossible to just walk around and see things.

So, I think to myself, a-hah! Contacts would solve the problem! I haven't worn contacts in 15 years (since I moved to the semi-arid climate of Colorado and realized that they stuck to my eyeballs like velcro (not comfortable!). But - I've been here for years and I'm used to the dryness now. Off to the eye doctor!

They have daily contacts now -- you wear them one day and then toss them. No cleaning solution, no mucking about with the lenses every night. And they are so much more comfortable! Lens technology has come a long way since I tried them the first time. I have a five day trial of lenses and I'm relearning how to get them in and all that jazz. So far, so good.

Of course, I feel positively NAKED without my glasses on. I keep pushing up my invisible glasses (and poking myself in the eye on more than one occassion). I will still wear glasses most of the time - the contacts are just for backup, really.

It's amazing how much you get used to wearing glasses and how weird it feels to not have them!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Things that I came across today while surfing: the 2009 Honda Gold Wing, the giant 1.8L double-Barcalounger highway touring motorcycle, is now available with an airbag. 

a) I can't figure out how on earth that is going to work and b) I can't imagine that's it's a good idea. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Not quite a space station

Well, Stephen Colbert must be a bit let down today. He didn't get the new module on the space station named after him (despite a huge write in campaign!). However, they did name the latest treadmill:

Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill. [C.O.L.B.E.R.T.]

It's nice that NASA has a sense of humor!

Traquair House

I finally made reservations for our first couple of nights in Scotland. We don't normally have reservations during the trip, but it's awful nice to be able to have a place to head to when the plane lands and you are all jet-lagged and wrung out and just want to find a bed. So, I usually try to have one or two nights in one place to get our bearings, so to speak.

I found Traquair House, which looks to be absolutely fabulous!

It's billed as the oldest occupied house in Scotland, and has huge gardens and all sorts of fun stuff going on. We're staying in the Blue Room. I love this sort of place -- usually we stay in pretty standard B&Bs, but there are a couple of places that are worth a splurge.

My neighbor asked me if we were packed yet (we leave in two weeks). Hah! We've thought about it, does that count? We have a list of the variety of technical gadgets we need, and a vague idea that we should, you know, pack clothes...I'll probably be packing the day before, like I usually do. Eek!

Corporate Tax Cuts

I've been hearing snippets of coverage about the "tea protests" over taxes today, which seem to be primarily organized and coordinated by the major right-wing players (certainly not "grassroots" efforts, by any means) and I'm just a bit confused as to what they are really protesting. We all hate paying taxes, but almost all of the people planning to 'teabag' (and boy, they really should have looked that one up before adopting it as a moniker!) are those specifically getting the benefit of the proposed tax cuts. Protesting government budgets? I can't see why they are all up in arms now (except that the Republicans apparently don't like being the minority party). Where was the outrage in the last eight years? I just don't understand how anyone can try to use the old hack "tax and spend" as a criticism. Are they irony impaired?
President Bush has presided over the largest overall increase in inflation-adjusted federal spending since Lyndon B. Johnson. Even after excluding spending on defense and homeland security, Bush is still the biggest-spending president in 30 years. His 2006 budget doesn’t cut enough spending to change his place in history, either.

Total government spending grew by 33 percent during Bush’s first term. The federal budget as a share of the economy grew from 18.5 percent of GDP on Clinton’s last day in office to 20.3 percent by the end of Bush’s first term.

The Republican Congress has enthusiastically assisted the budget bloat. Inflation-adjusted spending on the combined budgets of the 101 largest programs they vowed to eliminate in 1995 has grown by 27 percent
[From dailykos]

I'm as ticked as the next guy about my tax dollars paying for AIG executive bonuses. I don't think the American car industry is worth bailing out, really (although I do understand the economic reasons for doing so). I'm angry that I've paid thousands of dollars to fund a war that I absolutely did not support (although again, I do see the need to make sure our troops are properly armed and protected). If that was the core of this protest, I could understand the ire. But it's not, as far as I can tell.

I simply cannot see what sort of "message" the faux tea party group intends to give. Are they protesting tax hikes? tax cuts? general rates? what is taxed? Obama? Democrats in general? The weather? It's getting all sorts of breathless coverage on the radio and Fox News, about how it could be the start of a "new rebellion"...really? You picked now to try to protest taxes? Now? When things are actually going to be better for most people? (Yeah, I'm expecting my taxes to go up, by the way. I'm not in any way agreeing with this group. As a matter of fact, the people that I know who are actually going to have higher taxes in the next few years are not complaining at all. It's all the people who aren't in that tax bracket who are raising a ruckus. Go figure.)

They certainly aren't looking back and criticizing the actions of previous administrations (both D and R), they have co-opted an image from history and don't seem to have grasped the real implication : the Boston Tea party was a reaction to corporate taxes, and the practice of a "foreign" government levying taxes on colonial trade. It is more of a commentary on business than anything to do with tax rates. IN fact,
the Boston Tea Party was ultimately precipitated by a massive corporate tax cut.

In 1773, the British East India Company, was in serious financial straits. One solution was to bail out the corporation by offering it a government loan. But instead, at the urging of the East India Company's powerful lobbyists and supported by King George III, Parliament passed the Tea Act which almost entirely eliminated the duty -- the tax -- on British tea exported by the East India Company to the American colonies. The actual subtitle of the Tea Act:
"An act to allow a drawback of the duties of customs on the exportation of tea to any of his Majesty's colonies or plantations in America; to increase the deposit on bohea tea to be sold at the East India Company's sales; and to empower the commissioners of the treasury to grant licences to the East India Company to export tea duty-free."
The rationale was that lower taxes meant lower prices, which meant the East India Company would sell a lot more tea. In other words, the British government's solution to the East India Company's financial crisis was, in effect, a tax cut. The tax cut was viewed by the colonies as tyranny against smaller merchants whose business would be severely undercut.

So, "Tea Parties" are the conservative revival of the Boston Tea Party, in which "Sons of Liberty" disguised as Native Americans raided a British ship and dumped crates of tea into Boston Harbor to protest British 'rebates' of taxes to the East India Company. Today's revolutionaries are protesting the new federal budget, or the stimulus plan, or, possibly the very idea that Democrats get to decide how the government spends money, instead of those fiscally responsible small-government Republicans who brought us the biggest deficit in American history.

Makes sense now?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I have cute shoes!

I was very upset when Ecco stopped making my walking shoes -- heading off on vacation, it's time to buy a new pair and break them luck. I tried eBay, every google search I could think of, no luck. So off to the shoe store to find something else. I hate shopping. But, the Adorable Husband dragged me off to Brown's before dinner and made me look.

I totally scored on the cutest shoes evah!

They make me look like a cabbage patch doll, of course, with little round feet, but they are the most comfortable shoes I've worn in ages -- Keen's, model Briggs. They didn't have the red ones, or I'd have bought those. I still may look for them online.

Hah! Success!

We don't need a gardener

This -- this stumpy shredded shrub -- is actually a huge, robust, and very hearty Dr Huey rose. In the summer, it is an 8-foot tall monster of a rose bush. We cut it back to about 5' tall in the winter and it just goes like gangbusters in the spring.

The puppies, however, decided that it needed to be shorter and have systematically gnawed off all the canes close to the ground, dragged them off into the yard and chewed on them.

These are very thorny rose bushes. I can't imagine that it's pleasant, and yet they keep doing it. Every single shrub and tree in the yard - except this one -- is behind protective fencing to keep the weasels away from it. Last year they chewed the bark off the oak tree (it's fine!) and started to eat the burning bushes, I have no idea what the allure is. They're just weird.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Another word to add...

Poronkusema — Finnish: the distance equal to how far a reindeer can travel without a comfort break.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Maybe you're intepreting it wrong

Per Jim Dobson:
[W]e made a lot of progress through the Eighties but then we turned into the Nineties and the internet came along and a new president came along and all of that went away and now we are absolutely awash in evil. And we are right now in the most discouraging period of that long conflict. Humanly speaking, we can say that we have lost all those battles, but God is in control and we are not going to give up now, right?
It's probably not fair to pick on someone purely on semantics (but I think Dobson is an idiot, so I don't feel too bad about it), but how can he believe both that "the country is awash in evil" and that "God is in control"? Unless he also believes that God himself wants the country to be "awash in evil" and is actively promoting this outcome?

Maybe he's just ignoring the obvious?


I've posted before that I don't get the low-rider pants, I don't get men./boys wearing their pants buckled under their asses, I don't get the whole 'giant pants' phenomenon. I must be hopelessly un-fashionable.

These, though, these bkini jeans, might just be the topper. Just think! Jeans that are designed to show your underwear to its fullest advantage (in fact, they have built-in underwear, apparently. This is ) These are going to look good on about four people on the planet...and frightening on the thousands of others who wear them anyway. Eek.

And the model has a tramp stamp.I guess they are marketing this to the right group...

Thursday, April 09, 2009


I can't figure out if this means Berit has really, really good hips, or really, really bad ones. But she often does her SuperDog imitation and sleeps like this!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Amazing Photoshop galleries

I may never be able to view a photo again and not wonder if it's real or photoshopped. Some of the examples in this gallery are absolutely amazing (weird, too).

I'm lucky if I can adjust the white balance on photos, and possibly get rid of stray power lines or dust motes - I can't imagine being able to create these images. Wow.

Saturday, April 04, 2009


Okay, okay, I do read LOLcats and LOLdogs. I refuse to succumb to the weird LOLspk or whatever they call it, but i have to admit that a lot of the pictures make me laugh.

This one made me snort in a very unladylike fashion.

Bad Touch! Bad Touch!

Instant Gratification Girl

Only three and a half weeks until we leave for Scotland -- the entire month of May spent driving roughly counter-clockwise around the country, with the first ten days spent up at the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival (where we have tickets for some special tours and tastings, and a stay at the Craigellachie Hotel -- home of the Quaich bar with 700 different bottles of Scotch).

I can hardly wait!

But, as usual, our gadget-lust has overcome us. We decided early on that we needed a GPS, with maps for Scotland -- it may not cover everything, but being able to navigate in the towns will definitely be helpful. So, a Garmin 270 is on the way. I'll be able to use it in my car when we get back, of course -- I've been wanting a GPS for the car for ages.

We also upgraded the camera for this trip to a Nikon D300 and a new, faster VR lens. Part of what we love about traveling is the pictures, so more pixels is gooooood. The D100 is six years old, and technology has definitely changed!

Now, all I need to do is find the walking shoes that I love (they have discontinued them, apparently) and I'm readly to go!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Peeps! Peeps!

It's that time of year again. Peeps are in the stores.

So, some sick, twisted humor relating to peeps: 100 Way to Kill a Peep.

Is it wrong that I laughed at the Overdose?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


Finally, finally, finally. It's only two and half years late (compared to the earlier travel sites), but I've finally posted the bulk of the trip website for Ireland.

I'd shelved it for months, when work just sucked up all my time, but here it is: travelogue, photos, all sorts of weird and (hopefully interesting) stuff. I'm still trying to wrap up spellchecking, and sometimes the navigation does a loop-de-looop, but let me know what you think!

High Volume Consumers

It's April 1, so I would love to believe that this is a bad April Fool's joke, but I fear that is not the case. Just nine patients (five middle-aged women and five middle-aged men, most with drug and mental issues) accounted for 2,678 visits to Austin, TX emergency .
Just nine people accounted for nearly 2,700 of the emergency room visits in the Austin area during the past six years at a cost of $3 million to taxpayers and others, according to a report. The patients went to hospital emergency rooms 2,678 times from 2003 through 2008, said the report from the nonprofit Integrated Care Collaboration, a group of health care providers who care for low-income and uninsured patients.
Obviously there is an underlying problem here that is not medical - it's social. Would these people abuse the emergency room if they had access to appropriate mental care elsewhere? I don't know, but I know that every visit they make to the ER because they need attention or a warm bed or a drug fix costs every other patient, but you can't turn anyone away at the ER, not until you've ensured that they aren't, in fact, seriously ill.

I'll be interested to see what sorts of suggestions the group has to solve the problem.

Color, dahling! Color!

From -- this just made me laugh uncontrollably. I can't imagine one of my dogs staying still for this!