I do hereby resolve the following for the year of 2005...
1. I will read more non-fiction.
2. I will continue attempts to create life.
3. I will come up with my evil master plan to take over the world and mask it in a catchy jingle that the brainless drones will sing to each other. (Perhaps get Justin Timberlake to sing it?)
4. I will continue blogging.
5. I will yoga three times each week and treadmill three times each week.
6. I will attempt to be a better correspondent.
7. I will strive each day to make my Prince feel like royalty.
8. I will strive each day to be happy being me.
The Noble Eagle is chastising me this morning. So now I'm both embarrassed and guilty. I didn't tell him I'd started blogging. Why? Well, who knew how long I'd stay with it? What if I suck? Do I really want to be a blog whore?
So, Noble Eagle, I apologize with all that I am and hope that I don't let you down.
(That is the end of today's confessional.)
However, how cool am I to be bringing this wayward blogger back into the fold? I can commiserate with him over the health issues the news can have on you. I myself have suffered insomnia, short-temperedness, and agitation over recent news. As a matter of fact, now that the election is over my marriage is MUCH healthier.
For my intrepid and faithful readers, this is a medley of Christmas Tales, all with a Villains Vanquished ending.
Back when cross country travel was less threatening, my sister and I were daring children travelers, playing the hockey puck between our divorced parents. We’d pluckily traveled all over the nation by plane and eagerly sought new travel routes to add to our list of achievements. One year, we decided to travel from Chicago to Dodge City, KS by…wait for it…train. Yes! We boarded the Southwest Chief and went rolling down the tracks. I should tell you, I was the elder sister and so I was responsible for us both. (I had the money and the tickets, but little authority in controlling my headstrong little sister.)
Anyhoo, the train left the windy city sometime around 6 or 7 pm and we had dinner (pop and candy and chips, I’m sure) and finally went to sleep. Sometime around dark-thirty I noticed the train had stopped. I didn’t think this so strange, afterall, trains do make stops. And, we seemed to get back rolling after a while. However, a little while later we stopped again and this time, it wasn’t in sight or within the bounds of a town. Rather, this time we were stopped in BFE, if you know what I mean. So, as the conductor made his rounds I stopped him and asked the natural question. He assured me that everything was fine, we just had to stop because the tracks were frozen up ahead. ?!?!?!? Ooookay. Apparently the same situation had stopped us outside of St. Louis as well.
The train gets going again, but we are now clearly several hours late. We are inside Kansas, but still not to Dodge City when the train stops again. Naturally all aboard figure the tracks are frozen, but not so! The conductor comes on with an announcement.
“Ladies and Gentlemen: in accord with Federal Regulation, the train must now stop. Amtrak employees have now been at work for the federally stipulated duration and must now cease. We are awaiting a relief crew to come from Flagstaff. The Dining Car and A la Carte Car will be closed. Thank you for your patience.”
Have you ever seen people near mutiny? I have. Drop people in the middle of nowhere and take away their food. That does it everytime. Needless to say, 15 minutes later a new announcement came on. They were reopening the access to food. Good decision. The elderly lady (she could have been all of forty…but everybody is “elderly” when you are 12) in front of us was looking rabid.
Unbeknownst to my sister and I or any of the other passengers, the train’s location was about an hour east of Dodge City. My father was in Dodge City awaiting our arrival. My stepmother, being the wise woman she is, suggested they call ahead to the train station to ascertain if the train was on time. The gentleman who answers the phone and 6 am is not a well-informed fellow and told her only that it was late, “Call back later.” This same thing happened an hour later and another hour after that. Our train had originally been due at 7 am local time.
At 10 am my father was out of patience and insisted on going to the train station. He nicely requested a status report and that got him nowhere. So, in typical daddy style, he threatened Amtrak with kidnapping charges. Personally, I feel he was justified. They had custody, albeit temporary and with the understanding of the parents, but refused to locate us for him. The threat worked and the station told him that we were about an hour east of town.
My dad is an action guy, so what did he do? He drove east, following the tracks until he found the train. (In Kansas this is completely possible as the highways follow the same routes as the train tracks almost exclusively.) He stopped the car on the highway and walked up to the stopped train. (I imagine him storming up to the train, but do as you will.) He then proceeded to knock…yes knock on the exterior of a car. After about 5 minutes of pounding (knocking quickly became pounding) the conductor opened a door to see what was amiss.
“You have my daughters. I want my daughters off of this god&*%$ train.”
This poor conductor had already put off a mutiny, now he was being attacked from without. You had to give him credit, those folks bound for LA on Christmas Eve were never going to make it on time and he was looking at another mutiny before long. He sheepishly asked my father for our names and descriptions and said he would locate us. “You have five minutes,” my dad informed him authoritatively. Apparently threats worked with government employees back then.
Back on the train, my sister and I were munching on licorice and playing a game. Ever the responsible rule follower, I was concerned when the conductor approached us quietly and bent over at the waist to speak softly to us. He asked if we were so-and-so. “Yes,” I said.
Even more quietly he said, “Your father is outside the train. You expected him to pick you up?”
“Yes! But what about our bags?”
“Don’t worry, I’ll locate it. Just gather up your belongings and follow me.” The conductor escorted us to where Dad was fuming. The other passengers wistfully and questioningly watched us depart.
And that is the story of how my dad rescued us from Amtrak for Christmas.
Back when I was a junior in high school, I was a high muckety-muck in the student council. That year we were again coordinating the Adopt-a-Family program where individual classes and clubs “adopted” a local family in need and purchased gifts from “Santa” for all members of the family.
The program worked very well. This year in particular, I was responsible for delivery of said gifts to the families. Because of insurance issues and the location of the deliveries, I had to have a police escort all the way to the door of each residence.
So, I approached the door of one home and the officer knocked on the door. A small child came to the door and he asked if “mom” was home. The child pointed to the clearly drugged-out-of-her-mind mother. The officer asked me to wait outside and radioed to another officer helping with deliveries in the same complex. I went back to the car, waiting and wondering what the hold up was until the officer returned to the car with the woman in cuffs.
I don’t know the details, I’m not privy to them. However, that remains in my mind as the next-to-worst Christmas ever and the day when, as Santa’s liaison, I was responsible for having a child’s mother arrested for Christmas. Polly Pocket can’t make up that much ground! I had a hard time getting over that. But, in the Villains Vanquished manner, it appears the bad guys did get it in the end.
The worst Christmas on record in my short little life was the Christmas when I caught my stepfather cheating on my mother on Christmas Eve…in the basement…with the victim of spousal abuse that my family had generously taken in to get her out of the hell she inhabited. I had to keep it a secret, of course, else ruin everyone’s Christmas. As a Seething Teenager™ I had a lot of anger about this.
As it turns out, the news didn’t keep very long and I got to be responsible for the ruin of another child’s Christmas. However, he did get caught, and the villains were exposed, so to speak, so again, Villains Vanquished!
Oooee. Did I get too personal on you? Note to self: this may be why we have major issues with infidelity.
Kathy gives notice today to the Vodkapundit himself about his noticeable absence screwing with her daily surf. He's a little lower down on my favorites list, but I have a similar problem with a high ranking member of my surf. Namely, the Noble Eagle. He's been back from the sandbox for a while and I've cut him a lot of slack because he was one of the people early on who urged me to start blogging. But I miss him. His posts are concise and well-organized. He is well-researched and provokes thought. Where is my Noble Eagle?
Is it Ignorance...or is it Bigotry? You be the judge.
Over at the Cake Eater's pad (groovy swingin' new place that still has the wet paint smell), Kathy has received an email that is distinctly paranoid. Read it here. She does a really good job of fisking it, and it is really rather funny. Go read it.
But what bothers me about it is the fact that it is so targeted in its paranoia, wrath, and bigotry. I understand full well that we are at war. I get it. I know that the enemy is Islamic Extremism. I don't believe, however, that all Muslims are out to get us anymore than I believe all Jews are rich or all Baptists are hicks.
Show a little reason people. For heaven's sake! Take a deep breath.
I am rubbing my hands together in wicked glee. The news that Book 6 of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, will be released to the public on July 16, 2005 is a welcome Christmas gift.
I can hardly wait!
We will now return to more adult topics of conversation.
They say that we are cursed to have children like ourselves. Oh, how I hope that isn’t true. You see, as a child I was a bit of a…challenge. (I don’t think I’ve posted this before, if I have, please ignore it.)
We were living in Lexington, KY at the time of this particular story. Back then, my sister and I were latch-key kids, letting ourselves into the condo everyday after school. We’d do our homework and then go outside and play on the Condo Property.
Everyday as we walked home, we would stop by the mailbox and collect the mail. As the oldest, I was “in charge” of my sister and I and so I was the keeper of the keys. On the day in question, there was a letter from the Condo Association in the mailbox. It wasn’t in an envelope, so the curios child opened it and read it.
I admit that some of the words were foreign to me, my vocabulary not yet expanded to include all of the jargon, but I believed that I understood the missive from context. I believed the message to indicate that, effective immediately, the children of residents would no longer be able to play outside in the parking lots or grassy areas of the property. Further, that play areas would be restricted to domiciles, patios, and balconies.
To my credit, I did not immediately leap into the deep end. Instead, I went to my sister’s little friend’s house. Her mother worked nights, and so was home when we got home from school. We took the letter to her and I asked her if it meant what I thought it meant to my 8-year-old brain.
Naturally, if this story is to proceed, you know that she confirmed my understanding. I asked her, “Can they do that?”
“They think they can,” she replied.
“We CAN’T let them DO THIS!” I was emphatic.
“What do you want to do?” she asked.
“Let’s get all of the kids together for a meeting. We’ll talk about it, and then…then we’ll strike like adults do when they are mad. We’ll go on strike!” The little cogs in my brain were working overtime.
So, the three of us girls quickly started making the rounds, rounding up all of the kids in the complex. Everybody came over to the lady’s house. We made signs and came up with a chant. An hour later or so, we all agreed to go get our roller skates or skateboards and meet back up. Then, on wheels, we chose our picketing locations. We broke into two groups, one to picket each entrance to the complex. From there, we began skating back and forth, holding up our signs, and chanting “LET US PLAY! LET US PLAY!” in that rhythmic manner that is so compelling.
The story doesn’t end there. The lady that had assisted us called the news. Before you knew it, there were news vans, tv reporters, and cameramen everywhere interviewing us. My mom came home to see me being interviewed, on rollerskates, explaining the natural right of all children to play, and that we are not dogs to be restricted to a small space.
The story covered and most parents arriving home rapidly from work, the strike broke up and the media departed. But of course, we were on the news. And…as you might suspect, the media took our side and the Condo Association didn’t come out looking very…human.
This is why it was such a huge victory when the next day after school we found another memo from the Condo Association rescinding the previous day’s rule.
See, I’ve been Vanquishing Villains from a very early age.
Weirdness. On Monday, I visited my local UPS Store and shipped 6 boxes by ground. One of the packages was bound for Tucson.
Being a control freak, I daily check their status by tracking the shipment of each box. Yesterday, I noticed that all of the packages are moving along their respective routes...except the box bound for Tucson. That box, checked into the Hodgkins, IL facility, but never checked back out.
So naturally, the news this morning of a fire at the Hodgkins facility has me a bit...concerned. How pissed will I be if my box was one of those lost in the fire?
Three screennames you have: Kansas Girl, Phoenix, Dalbo
Three things you like about yourself: My passion, my vocabulary, my nails
Three things you hate/dislike about yourself:Naturally curly hair that makes me look like I’m 15 and is ever so prone to humidity, that I’m sooooo opinionated, and my thighs
Three parts of your heritage:Gypsy German from the Black Forest, German, and that my paternal ancestors moved to the new world prior to the Revolution wherein one of my ancestors worked side-by-side with Paul Revere.
Three things that scare you:Terrorism, Rabid Moonbats who can’t make a logical argument, Paris Hilton
Three of your everyday essentials: Coca-Cola, Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm, Mousse
Three things you are wearing right now: Diamonds baby!, Amarage by Givenchy, and OPI Red nail polish
Three of your favorite bands/artists (at the moment):Gretchen Wilson, Big & Rich, Aerosmith
Three of your favorite songs at present: Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, The King of Christmas, and The Bumper of my SUV by Chely Wright (lyrics below)
I've got a bright red sticker on the back of my car, Says: "United States Marines." An' yesterday a lady in a mini-van, Held up her middle finger at me. Does she think she knows what I stand for, Or the things that I believe? Just by looking at a sticker for the US Marines, On the bumper of my S.U.V.
See, my brother Chris, he's been in, For more than 14 years now. Our Dad was in the Navy during Vietnam, Did his duty, then he got out. And my Grandpa earned his Purple Heart, On the beach of Normandy. That's why I've got a sticker for the US Marines, On the bumper of my S.U.V.
But that doesn't mean that I want war: I'm not Republican or Democrat. But I've gone all around this crazy world, Just to try to better understand. An' yes, I do have questions: I get to ask them because I'm free. That's why I've got a sticker for the US Marines, On the bumper of my S.U.V.
'Cause I've been to Hiroshima, An' I've been to the DMZ. I've walked on the sand in Baghdad, Still don't have all of the answers I need. But I guess I wanna know where she's been, Before she judges and gestures to me, 'Cause she don't like my sticker for the US Marines, On the bumper of my S.U.V.
So I hope that lady in her mini-van, Turns on her radio and hears this from me. As she picks up her kids, From their private school, An' drives home safely on our city streets. Or to the building where her church group meets: Yeah, that's why I've got a sticker for the US Marines, On the bumper of my S.U.V.
Three new things you want to try in the next 12 months: Parenthood, Sanity, Being Filthy Rich and Fabulous
Three things you want in a relationship (love is a given): Honesty, Faithfulness, Humor
Two truths and a lie: I love my job. I’m a product of multiple broken homes. I’ve personally organized a strike.
Three physical things about the opposite sex (or same) that appeal to you: Tushie in faded jeans, smell of man working, the way their hair looks best mussed.
Three things you just can't do: Bat, Resist chocolate, tolerate snakes
Three of your favorite hobbies: Reading, Entertaining, Cooking
Three things you want to do really badly right now: Go back to bed, See my sister, win the lottery
Three careers you're considering: Pop Tart, Socialite, International Spy and Professional Playboy (er...Playgirl?)
Three places you want to go on vacation: Bermuda, London, Cabo
Three kids names: Battle Honor London
Three things you want to do before you die:
Write my Autobiography, Achieve my dream of becoming High Empress of the World, have an action figure made in my image (bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha) so that my evil minions have an icon to worship.
Turns out some member of Minnesota's Electoral College voted for the wrong John yesterday. Yes! It seems Kerry will get one less Electoral Vote because his running mate, John Edwards, will receive one vote.
Whether it was a protest vote or a brain fart, the fact remains it looks kinda bad. Particularly when the blue crew is the group usually claiming to have the superior brain power.
I had to read the words of this cretinous, slack-jawed, simpleton twice before coming to the conclusion that, verily, he was not kidding.
So, naturally, I must rant.
Mr. Erik Lundegaard contends in his headline that "Santa Claus is strictly a red-state hero."
What an idiotic thing to suggest! The fool makes drama from children's folklore by tying it to the Presidential election. He pisses all over Christmas by saying that the vast majority of Christmas movies have a rightwing agenda that explains and dramatizes Santa by using the Bible. He claims that the only "blue" Christmas movies are "It's aWonderful Life," "A Christmas Story," and "Home Alone." He then trots out what he claims is the most famous Christmas story of all time (gee, and here I thought it was the one about Mary, Joseph, and the Inn) "A Christmas Carol." He says of it...
...take heart that the most famous Christmas story of all, Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” is essentially a blue-state story. A cold-hearted, stingy bastard realizes, with the help of some spirits (or a guilty conscience and an undigested bit of beef), that, link by link, he’s forging chains in life that he’ll have to drag around throughout eternity. Its basic message is liberal: spreading wealth good; hoarding wealth, not so much. Plus it’s not hard — and kind of fun, actually — to imagine Vice-President Cheney, with his bald pate and perpetual scowl, as Ebenezer Scrooge. Or Jacob Marley? “In life, my spirit never rose beyond the limits of our money-changing holes! Now I am doomed to wander without rest or peace, incessant torture and REMORSE!” Yeah, Jacob Marley.
In an equally abhorent way, the "author" of this tripe says that another author's article pointed out to him that he is part of the "reality-based community" rather than the "faith-based community." Which is a passive-aggressive way of saying that people who have faith, or practice religion as a part of their life, (the much over-hyped demographic GWB & Karl Rove tapped into) are wack-a-doo nutjobs. However, the term "reality-based" suggests not-living-in-reality...Am I right? "Reality-based" is so-called as to differentiate it from ACTUAL REALITY! Ho-HO!
He continues on his track, coming to a point where he ties faith, as in believing without seeing, as in Tim Allen's "The Santa Clause" to those missing WMD. He suggests, I believe, that the Administration wants us to blindly believe in those WMD in the way that children blindly believe in Santa Claus. I can't read this as anything other than insulting, both to children and adults alike.
The guy is a schmuck, and completely misses the point. Christmas isn't about indoctrinating children with red-state ideology. If it were, the major networks wouldn't air those favorite cartoons in prime time, like "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." Rather, they'd show something depressing like Schindler's List.
This guy's heart seems to be smaller than the Grinch's prior to his epiphany. Erik Lundegaard's heart is more like 8 sizes too small. Christmas is not about getting. It's not about trees, presents, Santa, television, politics, and more and more, less about Jesus.
I know, I know, the gasps ring round the world.
In fact, Christmas is about loving and giving. It is a time to reconnect with your family and friends. It is a time to cherish these close connections above all other things, as the most important thing. For some, it is about religion. And that's great...for them. I can't knock it. I can tell you unequivocally that Christmas is absolutely NOT about politics. No matter what Erik Lundegaard's desperate conspiracy-seeing mind might conjure. I honestly thing he could find a cozy little cocoon at the Democratic Underground. They would welcome his conspiracy theories.
The rest of us can see through his diatribe to the sour grapes that they mask.
Santa Claus is not an American construct. He has hundreds of names and is recognized by children all over the world. Is it so terrible for children to believe in something wholly good in this world where the have to live with the dual realities of war and global terrorism? Hell no. That's right, I said HELL NO.
For children, Christmas is about magic, and unconditional love, and dreams come true. None of these are bad things. And, you'll notice rightwing ideology is not high on the list of what children look for our are interested in. Perhaps, they are just interested in being entertained and having fun. Ya think?
Look, this guy pissed me off. Essentially he called me a nutjob who was blindly indoctrinated to rightwing ideology when my parents taught me about Santa Claus and let me watch tv. He totally negates my ability to think for myself and make my own choices. He even goes so far as to say, "First, avoid Santa movies. That suit’s red for a reason." He's a jackass.
I suggest he go back to watching Freddie Kruger and Friday the 13th movies, as clearly, they are more to his taste of murder, mayhem, and suffering.
I still believe in Santa. I do! And I believe that, seeing as how Santa knows all, that Santa knows that Erik Lundegaard has been bad. Beware the lump of coal in your stocking, Mr. Lundegaard. The next thing we know you'll be going around to daycare centers breaking the news about Santa to 5-year-olds. Sick bastard.
Do you remember just after the election when the British Media called 51% of Americans "dumb" for reelecting GWB? Well..., by their yardstick, we ain't the only dummies on the planet. Via Chrenkoff, (he has a great post on this btw), is the news that 45% of Britons are unaware of the significance of Auschwitz or what happened there. That is astonishing to me!
We're the dummies? HA! For God's sake it happened in their backyard! They lead the fight against Hitler and his 'Solution'. They are always laying claims at America's door that we have no sense of history and are lacking in culture. And yet, they themselves appear to be (according to the BBC) completely unaware of one of the biggest real-life symbols of evil on Earth. Now that is dumb.
But, not to be outdone in the dumb department, it turns out the Germans are equally idiotic. It seems in a recent poll,
"51 percent of respondents said that there is not much of a difference between
what Israel is doing to the Palestinians today and what the Nazis did to the
Jews during the Holocaust, compared to 49% who disagreed with such a
according to the poll carried out by Germany's University of
Nevermind the fact that the two situations are nothing alike! I mean, Come On, People!
It was a marvelous weekend, but I worked my tail off.
Friday night I baked and baked and baked.
Saturday morning I got up and baked some more.
Then, I met my mom at the mall. She drove up to Madison from Chicagoland to visit me for my birthday (yeah, 2 weeks late, but that's okay). I usually hate the mall this time of year. Slow walking folk who appear to have no eyes and no idea where they are going somehow find their way to the mall. Like cattle, they appear to have no direction but that of the cow to their right, left, and front. However, the sales clerks were almost universally eager to please. I must admit, this is highly unusual for this area. Most of the time they act all put-out and your mere presence. So, that part was at least more pleasant than usual.
However, I did run into some rank incompetents when I ventured to the food court to buy 2 medium cokes. For some unknown reason we had to pre-order. By this I mean I was next in line, but a young girl had to come around from behind the counter and write my order on a laminated card with was pencil. She handed it to me. Four seconds later I handed it to the order-taker. She said, "So...what did you want?" Whereupon I repeated my order. Then I paid and moved to the left until my order was ready. And waited. And waited. Getting peevish. Once three people with food orders had moved past me, I not-so-subtly made eye-contact with the guy who appeared to be in charge. He quickly remedied the situation, but seemed aggravated that he had to attend to my order. Me and you both, buddy. However, after he handed me the beverages I learned that he had had the last laugh. You see, he had stopped filling the cups 1 inch from the top. That's one way to increase the profit margin. Sell an over-priced beverage and fail to fill the cup completely. Nice! At which point I decided that it just wasn't worth it to fight the matter. I mean, I'd already waited over ten minutes. How much longer might a full cup take? So, I walked away. But I know the universe will catch up with him.
And I will laugh.
Finally we were ready to depart for the second-worst location to visit this time of year: the grocery store. However, we never made it. This is largely due to the fact that my mom lost her car in the parking lot and we had to spend 30 minutes driving around to locate it. Yeesh!
So we went home and I got to open my birthday presents. Then, we went out to dinner and came back home to open Christmas presents. Why the dual holiday? Well, this is the year we travel to Prince Charming's parent's house for Christmas to have the brouhaha in the school gym. There are so many of them that no one house is large enough to accomodate all, so they go to the school gym. Cozy, no? Yeah, that's sarcasm. I don't find hard basketball floor festive. I also don't find the smells of sweaty teenager and unclean socks festive. But then, I've been told I'm too uppity in this way. So, yeah, Christmas will undoubtedly be a festival of kids screaming when they fall down in their fancy dress shoes on the slick gym floor, mothers screaming when said fall produces a damaged article of clothing, another casualty of the kid kind, or a broken toy in tow. This will quickly lead to the rapid departure of the dads who will exodus to the nearest watering hole, of which there are several in town.
The day after Christmas, Boxing Day, we fly out of O'hare to sunnier climes...namely Amarillo, TX via Dallas/Ft. Worth. However, if Prince Charming's luck holds, our arrival will harbinger a two-foot snow in the High Plains. Which will make Daddy happy at least, but might make the sun hard to come by. We are staying about a week. Which will give me plenty of time to wind down from Christmas-by-tetherball.
I totally crack myself up sometimes.
Well, why stop now? Might as well continue the ramble.
I finished my holiday baking. UPS is already hard at work delivery the fresh-baked holiday goodness. Now I can relax. Do yoga and spend my afternoons on the treadmill. And nap. Haven't been getting enough sleep lately. Saturday night I had the weirdest dream.
For some reason I was at an apartment building. Behind the building there was this big field of natural prairie grasses. We were outside getting ready to leave when two planes crashed into this field within 10 minutes of each other. The first plane came down kinda softly, like an emergency landing. It was a 747 passenger airliner, so we all ran toward the plane to see about survivors. For some reason I was told to go call 911. As I was talking to the operator, the second plane came down. This was just a little 4-seater though, and it came down in a fiery ball. It landed about a 1/2 mile away from the first crash site. I finished up with the operator by instructing her to send every available bus to the scene, then took an incoming call on my cell phone from my boss, Special Agent Gibbs (Mark Harmon). He told me to saddle-up, he had to call me in, and that DiNozzo was en route to pick me up. DiNozzo took me to the train that we act as our headquarters for the duration of the mission. I would be sharing a berth with Kate Todd. Abby and McGee were there, but I only saw them when I got to the briefing room.
We were on board to foil a terrorist plot. Gibbs paired me with DiNozzo and we started doing interviews and such. Later that night, Kate & McGee were on watch, so I went to take a shower. I still had plane crash sweat on me afterall. Coming out of the shower, two men burst into my room, seemingly by accident, and catch me in a towel. One of the men speaks with a middle eastern accent. The other does not speak at all at first. The first man appears to be in charge, but he quickly defers to the second man's suggestion that I lose the towel. I don't know what the second man has said, but the first man quickly makes it plain what I should do. I flatly refuse. Whereupon the second man says in perfect English, "You'll damn well do it!" and pulls out a gun. So, I flash them and tell them to "get the hell out!" They leave and I call DiNozza on his cell phone, but I only get a busy signal. I'm a little unhinged, but less by baring myself to strangers than the gut feeling that these are the bad guys we've been looking for. I can't reach anybody, so I quickly get dressed and head toward the berth given over to briefing. Gibbs is there, but nobody else is. He informs me that an armed gang has taken over the front of the train, including the three communal cars. I fill Gibbs in on my suspicions about my armed perverts. We begin to formulate a plan.
Well it seems that my Blog Mama is moving uptown to new digs. The Cake Eater Chronicles have moved to the mu.nu domain (the suburbs of Blogtropolis). You can reach her by pointing and clicking here, or by checking out the links.
The Fiery Bird is still hanging out on Blogger. It's kinda like living in a slum...but hey, it's free housing. Furthermore, my readership is pretty meager so it isn't like I need more room than this cardboard box offers. It's getting mighty lonely here in the slums.
In that same vein, I must apologize to my six readers for the lack of posting in recent days. The market has been crazy, I've had projects up the wazoo (yes, that is a technical trading term), and my at-home time has been dominated by the mass production of cookies for my holiday tins.
You can expect continued light posting until I get out from under this cloud of flour.
Rant #3: A Constitutional Amendment for Schwarzenegger
As I ambled through the local convenience store on Friday the USA today headline caught my eye. Do we need a constitutional amendment for Arnold Schwarzenegger?
For the unaware, the constitution makes pretty explicit requirements on who can hold what positions in the federal government. Chief among these are the requirements for President of the United States. There are two main requirements. First, an individual must have attained the minimum age of 35. Second, the individual must be an American born citizen. Naturalized citizens are not eligible for the highest office in the land under the Constitution at the current time.
So, there are some who are clamoring for a constitutional amendment so that Arnold can run for Prez in 2008. I feel the urgent need to comment.
Before I do, however, I feel that I should make something clear. I have absolutely nothing against Governor Schwarzenegger. Actually, I admire him for wanting a really tough job and in particular, for coming "out" as a Republican in Hollywood. I use this analogy because being a Republican in Hollywood is the equivalent of being a cross-dressing homosexual priest in Oklahoma. Simply put, lot of people hate you because of who you are. It is bigotry, pure and simple. So, going out on the ledge is something of an heroic act. It takes guts. You make yourself a very easy target.
Despite this, I feel that a Constitutional Amendment on the requirements of POTUS would be a tremendous mistake. Why? Because we can't seem to keep the borders secure. We find al Qaeda cells in places like Washington state and New Jersey. We find Americans fighting alongside the enemy against our troops. Our prisons are serving as ripe conversion ground for Islamic militantism. I don't think now is a good time to open up the requirements to anybody. I realize that it is highly unlikely that a bad guy/enemy could become President given the way our electoral system works. But I also fully realize that anything is possible and the simple fact that they can't beat us on the battlefield requires alternate forms of attack. Like one from the inside. Democracy, being an open form of government, is vulnerable to manipulation from our enemies if we let them.
Our founding fathers wrote these very specific requirements into the Constitution for a reason. They were not arbitrary. Our founding fathers knew about espionage. They knew war. They were very concerned with limiting the power of the federal government and also with making certain that no foreign powers could interfere with domestic matters. They even warned against entangling alliances (Thomas Jefferson's first Inaugaral Address). The risks were just as real then as they are now. Our founding fathers put tremendous thought and careful deliberation into the Constitution long before they put ink to parchment. The fact that we are still working under the same document is a testament to the government they built.
It is rarely a good idea, however, to make the government accomodate a single person. If the requirement was important in a time when almost everybody was an immigrant, it can not be less important now. Changing the Constitution for one man's political goals is like changing the law to make one woman's abortion illegal. It is a very bad idea. And it sets a terrible precedent.
For example, Prohibition was begun as a Noble Experiment. It began as an emotional movement and led to a Constitutional Amendment (#18). This, as you all are aware, led to a black market in liquor and organized crime. Later, Prohibition was repealed with the 21st Amendment.
So, you see, it is not always a good idea to make sweeping changes to governement on emotional grounds. For certain, great deliberation, at least equal to that put in by the founding fathers, should be undertaken before we whimsically go changing the noble document just so one man can be President. There are other positions in government with less stringent requirements if Arnold is interested in serving on a national level. But, I think it more important that he finish sorting out California's problems. They need him to get the job done.
I was planning this party for our friends and neighbors that had an activity that required a minimum number of participants, let's say the minimum is 13. The maximum number of participants is 21. Before choosing the date, I poll the invitees to make sure that I have chosen an acceptable date. I also make sure there are no major sporting events scheduled for the evening in question. Once the date has been chosen, I prepare invitations and mail them out 2 months ahead of the party, giving plenty of time to arrange babysitters and such. The invitations clearly request an RSVP by the one-month-to-party date, reminding guests that this will give the hostess one month to replace them in the activity.
On the last date of the RSVP exactly nobody had RSVPed. So, I waited another week. Still nothing. So, I called the people myself to ask if they were coming. Most said yes. One couple said no. Two couples said maybe.
So, the next week I begin to find replacements for the negatives. I find replacements. Then, the last week of the party (party scheduled for Saturday) I find out on Wednesday that 1 of my "yes" couples and one of my "maybes" both can not attend, for different reasons. So, I scramble to find replacements and I get them covered. Friday afternoon I go home to prepare for the party expecting 15 guests. This still includes one couple who is a maybe, but even if they don't end up being able to come, I still have 13 and the activity can go forward. Right?
The party was set for 7 pm on Saturday night. At 5 pm I found out that one of my "yes" couples weren't coming. Apparently they couldn't get a babysitter. Now, here's my beef: First, they had 2 months to find a sitter. Second, even if they were planning on having their older daughter to the babysitting and her plans changed, they still knew this LONG BEFORE two hours before the party. Third, because they chose to send this information through a third party, they distinctly withheld from me the hostesses gracious offer that they could bring the children along.
But, I held my temper, figuring that the maybe would probably come through as a yes.
An hour later, the maybe called. She was still at work but it looked like she'd get out in about an hour, and they'd make it, though it was possible she'd be late. No problem, I said, call me when you are sure you are or are not attending. She agreed.
And she never called. And they never arrived.
So, I want to perform a public service. I believe the problem is that these people do not know what RSVP means. I'm going to inform them all.
R.S.V.P. is short for "Repondez, s'il vous plait" which is French for "Please reply." It is used by party planners, hostesses, and wedding planners world wide to gain information from the invited guests to determine how many will be attending, how many will be eating, etc. If the hostess has to hunt you down and you still can't commit to whether or not you will be attending, you are committing a faux pas. It would be far better to decline and not earn the hostesses aggravation.
Several people have earned my enmity over their social antics this weekend. I sincerely regret to inform that these individuals may find it a very long and cold winter in hell before another invitation is presented to them from me. I'm sorry, but your actions amount to an insult and amount to callous disregard for me, my husband, and my other guests.
This weekend Prince Charming and I had an invitation-only party. It was great fun and everybody had a blast. The party started at 7 pm and the last guests left at 2:30 am. Lots of liquor and food was enjoyed. The conversation was intelligent, funny, and stimulating. There was a bit of weirdness though.
About 2 hours into the party, the doorbell rang and I went to answer it. I thought perhaps it was a guest arriving late. (We had an RSVP who didn't show. See Rant #2 on RSVPs.) When I got to the door I was somewhat surprised to find a young woman in slippers and...let's just call it very casual attire. She said, "I'm here for John and Mary."
"Come on in," I said. She looked like the babysitter, maybe there was an emergency at home, I thought. Although, the two six-packs she was carrying seemed a bit odd for that explanation. She went in and found John and Mary. I figured she could let herself out, at the very least it was not my affair to intrude upon. 15 minutes later I notice that is still present. I walk toward the kitchen where she is standing with John and Mary. She seems to be urging Mary to leave and still has her booze under her arm. Mary seems to be discussing with John, she wants to depart. John apparently doesn't want to leave and indicates Mary can leave without him. However, it doesn't appear that Mary wants to leave without John. 20 minutes of cajoling on the part of our sloppy slipper wearer yields nothing. She leaves without John or Mary, but takes her beer of course.
I think the strange interlude is over until an hour later when the doorbell rings again. This time I figure it probably isn't a late arrival and we aren't making that much noise so it isn't the cops. Despite this, I was still surprised to see the sloppy slipper wearer back on my front porch. Only this time, she wasn't alone. "This is my mother," she said by way of introduction, "we're here for John and Mary."
"Okay," I said. I was a bit peeved though. My home is not a cat house, with people coming and going at odd times without introduction. And, I thought it pretty shabby of them not to remove their shoes, even if they were slippers. She was sullying my floors with her dirty soles.
Rude slipper wearer and her mother stay for 30 minutes or so. The whole while they are attempting to get John and Mary to leave with them. As I walk by at one point, I find that John still doesn't wish to leave and Mary still doesn't want to leave without him. Once again our mysterious party crashers leave empty-handed. However, before she departs she makes certain to make several crass comments about bodily functions and manages to catch the attention of the entire assembled guest list. Her comments were distinctly un-ladylike, and I was a bit embarrassed.
A little while later I am talking with Mary and ask her casually about the strange slipper wearing visitor and her mother. Here's the story. Her name is Melissa. She is John and Mary's neighbor on the other side. She wanted John and Mary to leave my party and come over to her house. Her mother was visiting from up north.
Am I the only one that sees this as both weird and rude? This woman crashes my party and doesn't bother to dress for the occassion, with the nefarious intent of stealing away my guests. Why? She needs supervision for her visit with her mother. Now clearly her bringing her own booze indicates premeditation. She had full knowledge of where John and Mary were and came with the intent of luring them away. When initial attempts failed, she brought reinforcements in the guise of her mother.
What does it say about someone who is so desperate for attention that they crash a party and attempt to get guests to leave? Failing the first time, what does it say about this person when they rearm and get another party crasher to join the effort to inveigle the invited party guests away? What does it say that this person, so strangely dressed and not joining the party but clinging to the hem of her target's dress, then leaves but not before making a few crass and lewd comments.
I think this woman is demented. She is rude. And offensive. I do not wish to have her in my home ever again.
1 : CULTIVATION, TILLAGE2 : the act of developing the intellectual and moral faculties especially by education3 : expert care and training 4 a : enlightenment and excellence of taste acquired by intellectual and aesthetic training b : acquaintance with and taste in fine arts, humanities, and broad aspects of science as distinguished from vocational and technical skills5 a : the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon man's capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations b : the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group c : the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes a company or corporation6 : cultivation of living material in prepared nutrient media; also : a product of such cultivation
Now, having a BS in Agronomy and being a CCA I believe gives me the superior right to dismiss out of hand the first definition, as it is entirely not what the world is griping about. Definitions 3 and 6 are equally off-issue.
Definition #2 is interesting. It suggests that culture is the development of intellect and morals, essentially, learning to think and reason, and judge for oneself, especially as a product of education. I don't really think this is quite to the heart of the complaint either, but we are getting closer.
Definition #4 suggests that culture is enlightenment and excellence of taste as a product of training, and specifically mentions the fine arts, humanities and broad aspects of science as distinguished from vocational and technical skills. Which is somewhat subjective in that "excellence of taste" stuff. I mean, if I travel the world sampling, cataloguing, and researching beef jerky to the point that I can develop a grading scale and identify the top-notch stuff...does this mean I have gained culture in the realm of beef jerky? Or, is it as I suspect a matter of belaboring a point to the extreme to make sure it is no longer enjoyed? Who determines the excellence? It seems rather subjective.
The second part of this definition is a little more definitive. It requires a knowledge and appreciation of the fine arts, humanities, and broad aspects of science. Well, this manages to be both specific and vague. So, it seems culture requires equal exposure to Shakespeare's stage and Jim Carrey's silver-screen antics and the development of a preference. Something in the vein of, "Yes, yes, I saw Romeo and Juliet, but I prefer the comedic styling of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective."
It requires knowledge of humanities...a broad term that encompasses the miscellaneous disciplines that have no other home, eg. Anthropology. It is not that I intend to belittle these studies, merely I wish to suggest that they are so varied, one could spend one's entire life studying and never reach the end of the humanities. To take a broader approach, one could suggest that humanities are the studies of human beings. Which means that my copious notes on the bizzarro world of some families equate to study of humanities and Q.E.D. Culture. And what is this "broad aspects of science" different than the technical and vocational? I'm not sure I understand what they mean. Is this the understanding and appreciation that man has traveled to the moon, but not the knowledge of those messy boosters, seals, and g-force? I'm at a loss.
Definition # 5A seems to speak to a generational learning which does not seem to address the issue. Definition 5B is something a population vaguely assigns to itself. This would suggest that Americans have their own culture, and are not necessarily beholden to that of our European brethren. Definition 5C seems to water down to how one does business.
All of which I suggest you roll up in a big burrito. Culture is, in my humble opinion, what you make of it. It is exposing yourself to the possibilities and the self-determination of your preferences.
I've tasted all the colas, but I prefer Coke. I've eaten all the meats, but I prefer beef. I've traveled in Germany and Mexico extensively but have no desire to go back. I've read Shakespeare and Chaucer, but prefer J.K. Rowling and Diane Mott Davidson. I've tasted fine wines...you can have them. I prefer Captain Morgan. I've tasted Dom, I prefer Korbel's pink champagne. I've slept in all sorts of sheets...I prefer a very high thread count. I've cooked with all sorts of Cinnamon, but I prefer Chinese Cassia. I prefer Mexican vanilla to that of the rest of the world. I prefer Mexican food cooked in the Southwest to that to be found in the frozen north. I find the food I've eaten in Mexico to be far inferior in quality to both of these. I prefer Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice to Emma and don't care a bit for Wuthering Heights. I love candlelight and enjoy most musical formats (except rap--I hate that crap).
I've studied, I've traveled. I've become educated and identified my preferences. I know history, I've studied man, and I've done quite a bit of self discovery. What makes me uncultured? Is it that I don't chainsmoke in a beret on a greasy street in Paris? Be honest. Is it my unrelenting standards of personal hygiene? Is it that my country is only a little over 200 years old? What?
I tell you there is nothing to this "cultureless Yank" crap except a need to feel superior in some way. They can't beat us economically, in industry, in firepower, ...you see what I mean. So they cling to their superiority and despise us for liking who we are. You know what, I'm not going to change my preferences and don some European Pretensions just to play nice with the neighbors.
I like me. I like us. And that is good enough for me.
Today is my birthday. I love my birthday. I love that today I have an excuse for everything. My co-workers got me a card and they brought in Krispy Kreme donuts.
I have a confession to make. Up until today I had never experienced the Krispy Kreme donut. I avoided them in the same way that I avoid pot holes on the highway. They have considerable hype and I didn't want to buy into all of that. Not to mention the fact that I've heard they are both addictive and highly fattening. This girl isn't stupid! I also walk very fast past Cinnabon when I'm at the mall.
But I had to try the Krispy Kreme donut to be polite. I now wish that I had opted for rudeness. Because everything you have heard is absolutely true. They are soft without being doughy. They are sweet without being icky. They are sticky but not in a lingering way. They taste like childhood dreams. They smell good. They taste good. And...the texture experience in your mouth is like biting into a cloud of pillow-y goodness.
Damn, Damn, DAMN!
Why the heck did I have to try one? Now, you know, I only want another! They call to me like the siren's song. Before long, they will begin to cajole me. Then, a little after that, they will resort to the mocking. "You are so stupid! One little donut is not going to kill you!" Then finally sickness will set in. "Come to meeee, my preciouuussss. Where's my preciousss?"
Yes, inanimate objects sometimes speak to me. The semi-good news is that I don't usually talk back. However, the ottoman that keeps jumping in front of me regularly gets cussed out.
Happy Birthday to Me! I will spend the next 15 years in therapy learning to kick an addiction...unless I can resist today.