Tuesday, October 31, 2006
I am considering contacting Agent Bedhead and The Phishy One at Apothegm Designs about another redo on the ol' blog design. In that vein, a few short questions for my regular readers (all five of you):

1. Are you tired of the pink yet?
2. Should I get rid of the sexy avatar? Get a new one?
3. What do you envision when you hear "Villains Vanquished"?
4. What color do you think would be better - and by that I mean a refreshing change from all the other blogs in the blogosphere and easy on the eyes?

Leave a comment or email me, please.
posted by Phoenix | 3:38 PM | 4 comments

Happy Halloween!
I am going to be receiving trick-or-treaters in my Tuesday Witch Wear and holding the little princess hostage.

I hope you get all the candy you want!
posted by Phoenix | 12:44 PM | 0 comments

You Arrogant, Effete, Superior Sunuva*****
John Kerry, Whiner Extraordinaire and Effete, Arrogant, Insufferable Coward and Do-Nothing Holier-than-thou has once again proven what a Supreme Jackass he is (in my opinion).

Whoring on the campaign trail in California for the Democratic Gubernatiorial Candidate Phil Angelides, he said:
"You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your
homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you
get stuck in Iraq."

The take-home message, of course, being only dumb motherfuckers join the military. That isn't just insulting and offensive to every single member of our armed services, past and present. That is insulting and offensive to me. It should be insulting to every single American. Anybody who doesn't see this for what it is...I can't help you.

Military service is an honorable thing. It is something that many people seek out, not just because of the GI Bill, and not just to get out of Harlem. There are people from all spectrums who join. There are people from every economic bracket and every IQ level. There are some extremely educated people who join the military.

Why? Why would they do it?

FOR LOVE OF COUNTRY! These people are patriots who love this country and want to fight to preserve her and her people and their way of life. It really is as simple as that. It is not, as John "I married money" Kerry would have you believe; it isn't just the D-students and dropouts that enlist. Ask anybody serving. Ask Noble Eagle. Ask Smash.

I am sincerely appalled at Kerry's remarks. Frankly, I don't think he deserves the honor of the title Senator anymore. It is quite clear that he holds our fighting men and women in contempt and considers them dumb as bricks. He is a fool. Anybody who would vote for him is a larger fool for considering putting such and insufferable ass in a position of power where he can hurt people.

I hold our airmen, sailors, soldiers and marines in the highest of regard. I would do anything in my power to help any of them. I would do anything in my power to support them. They are what makes this country great. They are the sword that protects us fearlessly from the enemy and the blanket that offers compassion to the needy in other countries. They are heroes, defenders of freedom, and the very best that this country has to offer.

My step-cousin is in the Navy. My ex-fiance was Navy. My husband would have been a Marine, had life not taken a different tack. My own father was ROTC. My uncle was a soldier. Not a single one of them is dumb, or stupid, or didn't make the most of his education. In fact, I know my father is better educated and more intelligent than that flying fuck John Kerry.

Moreover, there isn't a single member of our military, past or present, that didn't do more work for democracy in one minute than John Kerry has done in 20 years. Or regular work, for that matter.

Kerry is wrong on this. Dead wrong. McCain is calling on him to apologize, as is the Whitehouse, but that is not enough. This SOB just called every single member of our military educational washouts and didn't-try-hard-enoughs. He's an arrogant, effete, un-American Ass.

But he "supports the troops."

Sure he does. Motherfucker.

h/t: Malkin, Drudge, Ace


posted by Phoenix | 12:02 PM | 0 comments

Monday, October 30, 2006
Birthday Party Bail-Out
I find this hilarious!

Poor Bill. Nobody wants to pay $500,000 to go to his birthday party. That must just suck.

So demeaning! And to have to offer up tickets to the hoi polloi - that's just a crying shame.
posted by Phoenix | 2:55 PM | 0 comments

Halloween Story
Love Witch Loses in Court.

Who knew you could get a warranty on a spell? Not me...
posted by Phoenix | 2:54 PM | 0 comments

Phoenix Meme Time
It has been a long, long while since we've featured a meme here at Villains Vanquished, and I'm of a mind to do just that. I found this one at Chasing Vincenzo.

1. Flip to page 18, paragraph 4 - in the book closest to you right now, what does it say? Umm. I don't have the book with me, but I'm rereading The Baker's Boy by J.V. Jones. With any luck, the fourth paragraph of page 18 features some lovely discourse between Grift and Bodger.

2. If you stretch out your left arm as far as possible, what are you touching? Nothing. The peninsula on my desk is to the right, there is nothing on my left for 5 feet and my arms aren't that long.

3. What's the last program you watched on TV? It was an episode of NCIS on DVD that I fell asleep to last night.

4. Without looking, guess what time it is. I'm going to go with 2:35 pm.

5. Aside from the computer, what can you hear right now? Voice recording, clackety-clack of keyboards, clickety-click of mouse, printer, wind rustling the few remaining leaves on the trees outside.

6. When was the last time you were outside and what did you do? 30 minutes ago I went to get some lunch - a chicken salad sandwich - and I drove the entire way there and back with the windows down. It is a beautiful day.

7. What are you wearing? Coco by Chanel, Diamonds, my Illinois Baseball jersey, and...K-Swiss tennis shoes (among other things).

8. Did you dream last night? If you did, what about? Yes. I dreamt that I was engaged to marry my second husband - Prince Charming had been murdered. I was getting ready to marry Colin Firth - who had just dumped Kelly Ripa for me - but was having some difficulty adjusting to the idea of living in Beverly Hills. Colin decided to buy me a house in Tahoe instead. Before I was ready to move the kids, however, I went to Chicago Art Museum. Outside, in front of the big Lion statues, some sniper was taking shots at the crowd. I recognized the shooter - it was an ex-boyfriend and it freaked me out. I woke up to the sound of my baby crying. It was a nightmare! For some reason, I believed that I was the target and that it might have been connected to Prince Charming's murder. I told the Chicago PD to check the ballistics against the ongoing investigation at home.

9. When was the last time you laughed? Yesterday. It was a gigglefest with Bunny. For some reason, bouncing a ball is hysterically funny every single time it happens.

10. What's on the walls, in the room you're in right now? Cow pictures by Woody Jackson, big window through which greater downtown can be viewed, and sound-absorbent panels.

11. Have you seen anything strange lately? I saw some really weird baby poo this morning, but I doubt you want to read about that.

12. What do you think about this meme? Tastes Great, Less Filling!

13. What's the last film you saw? I watched Selena yesterday on VH-1. I have a baby. I haven't been to the theater in an ice age.

14. If you became a multimillionaire, what would you do with the money? Oh, this is a fun one. First, I'd pay off the house. Second, I'd buy some Kansas farmland. Third, I'd get started building the resort Prince Charming and I have discussed. Then, I'd quit my job and raise our children while I wrote novels from my home office.

15. Tell us something about yourself that most people don't know. I used to have a crush on Ricky Shroeder. Which, in retrospect, goes a long way toward explaining my high school boyfriend.

16. If you could change ONE THING in this world, without regarding politics or bad guilt, what would it be? I would abolish ebonics. It is something that makes people sound ignorant and detracts from communication. People are judged, for better or worse, on how well they can communicate and this holds people back from their full potential. But then, I'd also get rid of text messaging and instant messaging because they are lazy modes of communication that can be misconstrued too easily, what with all the stupid abbreviations.

17. Do you like dancing? I love dancing - in my dressing gown and underwear, in the arms of my Prince, or even in a honky tonk.

18. George Bush? Let's see. I think the first one was a serious pussy who sold out the American gun owner. The second one is a much better leader, even if he is sometimes a bit too born again for my tastes.

19. What do you want your children's names to be, girl/boy? My daughter is named already. We have never been able to agree on a boy's name. I like Lawson, Prince Charming wants Harold. If we have another girl, her name will likely be Ainsley.

20. Would you ever consider living abroad? I've traveled enough to know that there's no place like home. So, in general, I'd have to refuse. The only country I'd consider living in would be Australia. But I'd still rather be here.

21. What do you want God to tell you, when you come to heaven? "You did all that you could. We have a special library for you right over there."

22. Who should do this meme? The Stepstool.


posted by Phoenix | 2:16 PM | 0 comments

Mexican Food is Not the Same Everywhere
Prince Charming and I had supper out on Saturday night. We left Bunny with Grandma and headed north to a Mexican restaurant we'd heard good things about.

First the good: The atmosphere was lovely. It was charmingly decorated with considerable care and yet was very child-friendly. It managed to be both very open and yet our booth was very intimate. A paradox, I know, but that is how I felt. We were seated right away without a reservation and my pina colada was exceptionally tasty.

Now the bad: I got the very distinct impression that the menu had been de-spiced for the pasty palate of the Gringos. Seriously - I make better Mexican food than this. I ordered the special plate that afforded me a taste of many different dishes because I really wanted to test this menu and thought this the best way to do so. And just for the record, I did not have a cold or allergies or anything that would impact my ability to make a judgement on taste.

Unfortunately, the fare was uninspired. In fact, it seemed as though all of the same stuff had merely been presented in several different ways. The stuff in the enchilada was exactly the same as the stuff in the burrito (though they were wrapped differently and in different sized tortillas). The stuff presented on the open pepper was the same as in the burrito and enchilada, except more generously topped with the same white queso that had been sprinkled everywhere else. The only thing that varied slightly on the plate was the chalupa, and that not by much. This featured the same stuff, only it also had a dollop of guacamole and a bit of cheddar.

Frankly, I was disappointed. The only spice on the table came from the salsa (which wasn't spectacular). The meat wasn't seasoned, the guacamole tasted...like it had been scooped out of a 20-gallon plastic tub, and the rice was cold.

Despite all of this, I did get excited when I saw sopapilla on the dessert menu. I had to try them! Unfortunately, this too fell flat. I am used to a sopapilla that is a fried pillow of dough. You tear off a corner and drizzle honey inside and enjoy them hot. I was served something that looked like a chalupa - laying flat on the plate, drizzled with Hershey's chocolate syrup, and sporting an offensive (to me) pile of whipped cream in the center that featured a maraschino cherry.

It was an abomination!

I wish that someplace north of I-70 had the courage to not water down and dumb down the menu for the Gringos. Frankly, it puts me in mind of having a fiesta of my own and doing it all up right. I'm not kidding when I say that I do it better. I do! My guacamole is delicious. I love good salsa. I make good enchiladas. I even make a mean pina colada!

You know, I miss Texas for the food. The steak is amazing, to be sure, but the Mexican food is amazing - if only by comparison.

What's a girl got to do to get some decent Mexican food? Get on an airplane or make it yourself, I guess. But my point is, this was a place that had been recommended. These poor people of the frozen tundra must never have had good Mexican food. It is a tragedy.
posted by Phoenix | 9:50 AM | 2 comments

Friday Fiction - A Bit Late
I intended to post this on Friday, but I had too much to do. So, I post it now.

Here is Beth's fourth chapter in the Friday Fiction project: Chapter 4 - The Gathering.

If you are behind, here is the rest of the story.

Christina gave us Chapter 1 - The Elixir.

Shane wrote Chapter 2 - The Elixir II.

Theresa sallied forth with Chapter 3 - The Salvation.

Chapter 5, by Nuggets, should conclude the story on Friday.

It should also be noted that this will be the last Fiction Project of 2006.
posted by Phoenix | 9:38 AM | 0 comments

Thoughts from the Weekend
Andy Rooney is incredibly inane. But even more silly is the idiot who gives him air time.

Good grief...
posted by Phoenix | 9:19 AM | 0 comments

Thursday, October 26, 2006
Special Note to the Writers of Jericho
I have given you quite a lot of artistic license on your attempt to dramatize life in a small Kansas town after a nuclear holocaust.

I didn't question (too much) why Mutually Assured Destruction didn't happen. I mean, come on! Are you suggesting that everybody was asleep at the switch and nobody noticed multiple ICBMs rocketing our way? And Nobody ordered a counter attack before the bombs hit? Whatever. Such is not the subject of my rant.

No, today I take issue with a glaring inaccuracy that is incredibly unfortunate in the message it sends to the ignorant masses. And, just to be clear, when I say "ignorant masses" I dont' mean stupid - I mean ignorant. They just don't know enough about agriculture to know that you are feeding them bullshit.

Here's the scoop.

Last night on Jericho, the farmer guy Stanley discovered that he had an earworm infestation in his corn field and he went to see if Gracie (the local grocery store owner) had anymore pesticide. (Nevermind the fact that her store has never been billed as anything more than a grocery and you can't buy Restricted Use Pesticides at the Grocery - I'm giving them a pass and saying MAYBE it is also a farm store.)

Gracie has some pesticide left and tries to get Stanley to agree to a ridiculous agreement of going 50/50 on the crop profits for the purchase of the pesticide. Stanley refuses and instead decides to burn the parts of the crop that are infested, presumably to prevent the spread of the insects.


Anyway, long story short, the town comes together to help Stanley harvest his corn that afternoon since the EMP took out his harvesting equipment, I guess.

Only - and here's the problem with the plot - If they were going to harvest the crop green this means it was sweet corn. This premise is emphasized and reinforced by the fact that Gracie wanted to sell it in her store and the fact that Stanley told her if it wasn't safe to eat (from nuclear fallout and radiation) he wouldn't eat it or let his sister eat it. Fine. It is sweet corn, then.

But, if that is so, then Stanley has no use for pesticide. If the crop is ready to be harvested, it is too damn late to spray pesticides and burning the field is stupid. You can't use pesticides within a certain time period before harvest and this is especially true with a product that is going to be fed to people.

There's just no way to get around this fact. I'm sorry, writers, but maybe if you were going to dramatize farming, Kansas life, and agriculture you should have hired someone who knew more than what their Fisher Price farm set taught them. If Stanley was going to spray pesticides that close to harvest, he is either stupid or dangerous and trying to kill everybody in town.

So, to all of you who are now desperately afraid of what comes off the farms, rest assured that this is illegal and the premise is ridiculous.

For heaven's sake! Maybe the writer's would pay me six figures to consult...
posted by Phoenix | 10:27 AM | 0 comments

Happy Birthday!
A very special Happy Birthday goes out to SpySistah, who turns 30 today.

I personally hope you don't have to kick any terrorist ass today, unless you want to, in which case I would wish you a multitude of terrorist ass to kick.


posted by Phoenix | 10:26 AM | 0 comments

Reason Wins Out
Thank You, City Court of Aarhus!

Common Sense and Reason have won the day! Hurray!

You see, after the Jyllands-Posten in Denmark published the Mohammad cartoons that got all those Muslim panties in a bunch and resulted in the murders of innocents and the burning of buildings, sacking of Embassies, and riots, the top criminal prosecutor in Denmark refused to press charges for the publication of said cartoons.

This did not sit well with the bunched-panties group, so they filed a civil complaint seeking damages personally against the Chief Editor at Jyllands-Posten and the supervisor of the cartoon project (a project - if you recall - that was designed to challenge what was viewed as the cartoonists' self-imposed censorship on the topic of the violence of Islam).

The news today is that the City Court is having none of it! The court ruled that:
“It cannot be ruled out that the drawings have offended some Muslims’ honor, but there is no basis to assume that the drawings are, or were conceived as, insulting or that the purpose of the drawings was to present opinions that can belittle Muslims.”

Finally! Somebody extracted their head from their collective posterior.

I have to say that this makes me feel much better about the dhimmitude of Europe, at least in some respects. Although I also find it troublesome as well.

Were I on the court, I would have dismissed the lawsuit saying, "Free Speech is limited only by real damage and clear and present danger. Simply drawing a picture does not rise to that level. And as such, I would remind one and all, that there is no right that protects any person or group from offense. That's a slippery slope we can't afford to explore. Case Dismissed."

It troubles me that the Court's statement acknowledge's the insult (as though that gives the argument any weight in a court of law) and I fear that it only encourages more such suits. What's next? A court case against Jack Straw for his comments about the exclusionary nature of the veil?

Come on, people!
posted by Phoenix | 10:10 AM | 0 comments

Tuesday, October 24, 2006
How Cool is That?
Prince Charming and I enjoy watching Made in America and the host John Ratzenberger. This show, if you are unfamiliar, goes around the country highlighting American industry and products.

Several years ago, my Prince talked about sending a note to the program to get them to visit his place of employ, SubZero, the manufacturers of fabulous refrigerators and other kitchen wonders.

Well, it seems somebody else had the same idea. Because...John Ratzenberger is in Madison today at the plant filming an episode for the show.

How cool is that?
posted by Phoenix | 10:30 AM | 2 comments

This One is For Bobgirrl and Christina:
One small task that I have to do everyday is search a handful of terms in Google's news service. The nature of these terms is such that I get a very odd assortment of stories. Sometimes, mixed in there with the hilarious, ridiculous, and odd informational piece you find a real gem. About 6 months ago I found just such a gem: a recipe.

And not just any recipe, but an easy recipe for Chocolate Cream Pie.

And not just any Chocolate Cream Pie, but President Bush's favorite Chocolate Cream Pie.

So, I post this recipe for Bobgirrl (who requested it) and Christina (just because she needs it)...

President Bush's Favorite Chocolate Cream Pie (recipe by Chef Thaddeus DuBois)

2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cornstarch
2/3 cup milk
1 egg
8 ounces good quality dark chocolate
1/4 stick butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 graham cracker crust
1 pint whipped cream, sweetened
chocolate shavings, as needed

Combine 2 cups milk, sugar and salt and bring to a boil without stirring in a heavy sauce pan.
Meanwhile, combine cornstarch and 2/3 cup milk and whisk together. Whisk egg into the cornstarch mixture. When mixture from step 1 comes to a boil, add mixture from step 2 and cook until mixture boils. Remove mixture from the heat, whisk in chocolate, butter and vanilla. Stir until chocolate is melted. Pour into prepared pie shell. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until cold. Top with whipped cream and garnish with chocolate shavings.
Makes 1 (10-inch) pie.

Phoenix's Special Notes:

I use 1% milk, be advised that if you use whole milk you end up with more volume. Also, there is no discernable difference in taste or texture if you use a less fatty milk. For the chocolate, I use an 8 oz. bar of Hershey's Special Dark. This can be found on the candy aisle of your grocery. I realize that a more expensive chocolate might improve the pie, but the Hershey's Special Dark is spectacular, easy to find, and very affordable. I use a Kiebler pre-made graham cracker crust (baking aisle) and it works like a dream. When I garnish my pie slices for serving, I put whipped cream on top, grate more chocolate onto the whipped cream, then use some Hershey chocolate syrup to drizzle over the top and decorate the plate. NOBODY TURNS THIS DOWN!

Now then, one last note. If you buy the bigger Kiebler crust - the one that advertises 2 additional servings - I make one and a half recipes. In my kitchen, using 1% milk, this makes a very full pie (but doesn't overflow) and then you have plenty for everybody.

I have made this pie about 15 or 20 times since discovering the recipe. I can make it in 15 minutes flat, in fact. There is one secret to the recipe, however, and I share it with you now. Prepare the ingredients ahead. Don't try to get things together as you go, but have everything mostly ready before starting. Chop your chocolate, measure and mix your cornstarch with the egg and milk. Have the butter and vanilla out and ready. Have the crust ready to receive the finished filling.

This is not a recipe that waits for the timid. While you are not supposed to stir the first step (sugar, milk, salt), you are going to want to stir continuously after adding the cornstarch-milk-egg mixture in order to have a silky texture. You are going to have to stir with one hand and add the chocolate, vanilla, and butter. I don't want to scare you, merely impress upon you how fast this recipe develops once things start happening. You don't want lumpy pie. Nobody likes that.

But trust me when I tell you that this pie is a winner. You need proof? My mother-in-law asked for the recipe.

'Nough said.
posted by Phoenix | 9:53 AM | 2 comments

Mommy & Me Update
Bunny Boop is growing by leaps and bounds. Most recently she has astounded me by learning to climb the stairs. She can make it all the way to the top. Rest easy, we aren't standing idly by waiting for her to fall. We accompany her up every step, letting her do the work herself, but providing that just-in-case emergency net. She is so proud of herself when she gets to the top. Too funny!

All of which is helping develop muscle tone, doncha know.

She has also taken to sitting on her knees and hopping around on the floor. Particularly on the hardwood floor, no doubt because it resists this action less than the carpet. So, it seems I really do have a bunny...

So, I still suspect she may walk before Christmas. I can't believe she's almost a year old...where did the time go?

I am trying to sew her Christmas dress - teal silk with an organza overskirt. The only difficulty for me is the fact that it is a Vogue pattern and I'm not used to their style.

She still doesn't have any teeth popping through, but that should happen any day.

Of course, she is still outgrowing her pants in length faster than I know what to do about it. Some of her 12-months size pants are too short, while others are too big - in the rear - and fall off of her. What the heck am I going to do with a skinny no-butt kid with long legs? I don't know how to deal with that!


posted by Phoenix | 8:48 AM | 1 comments

Monday, October 23, 2006
You're giving me Good Vibrations
Here's further proof of my naivete:

Via Christina, the story of how to really get your groove on.

I suspect my youngest sister will be intrigued.

I'm embarrassed by my own astonishment that somebody put two and two together and came up with this. Will wonders never cease?
posted by Phoenix | 12:17 PM | 2 comments

Fiction Friday
I missed posting this on Friday due to...life.

Chapter 3 in the latest Blogvella is up.

Theresa penned the absorbing chapter entitled Salvation.

Chapter 1 - The Elixir was written by Christina.
Chapter 2 - The Elixir II was written by Shane.

Do yourself a favor and catch up with the story. It is just want the Devil ordered for this Halloween...
posted by Phoenix | 12:00 PM | 0 comments

College Game Day
It is no secret that I live with a rabid Wisconsin Badgers fan. I have come to terms with the College Football Season and the constraints it puts on my life. I have accepted it. I have even embraced it. In fact, I have become a Badgers fan myself, largely due to my esteem for Barry Alvarez.

Anyway, at our house, each Saturday in College Football Season begins with College Game Day on ESPN. We tune in each week to see Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, and Chris Fowler give their takes on the day's action.

Now, I don't really know why we watch this. You see, it never fails to infuriate my prince. He just gets very very angry at what these jokers have to say - or not say - about his beloved Badgers.

In the beginning, I thought Prince Charming was all huff and puff on this matter. Now? Now I too believe that Fowler, Herbstreit, and Corso are biased against the Badgers.

They only mention the Badgers when they are highlighting our opponents. Frankly, as Prince Charming puts it channeling Rodney Dangerfield, "We can't get no respect." They poo-poo anything good about the Badgers. They seem determined to ignore our NFL Draft stats.

As a matter of fact, I heard one of the bozos say about this weekend's game against Purdue:

"The Badgers had better be ready for Purdue."

AS IF! As. Freakin'. If.

Going in to Saturday the Badgers were favored by 6 points. We were favored to win.

Despite this, we were supposed to heed the warnings of Corso and Crew about Almighty Purdue. Blech!

Do you know what the final score was?

Badgers 24
Purdue 3

Seems to me that Purdue wasn't "ready" for The Badgers.

Hey, Corso, Herbstreit, and Fowler: Stick that in your pipe and smoke it!

This post approved by Prince Charming.
posted by Phoenix | 11:07 AM | 0 comments

What do you know?
A new post, finally! The only excuse I can offer is that sometimes Life gets in the way of Blogging.

Go figure, huh?

It seems like my life has been on Full Auto and Tilt for some time now. I don't even want to tell you how far behind I am on critical things like housecleaning.

Anyway, I'm sort of back at it.
posted by Phoenix | 10:18 AM | 0 comments

Wednesday, October 18, 2006
I'm back
I have returned to the land of cheese and beer. It was a very hectic trip. We were in Chicagoland on Friday, traveled to Denver on Saturday with a stop in Minneapolis/St. Paul. From Denver, we drove to the farm and arrived shortly before midnight. Saturday morning we were up and at 'em and visited with Grandma.

The news of our anticipated arrival had been shared with Grandma. I was told that this perked her up considerably. In fact, much of the family was on hand on Saturday afternoon and we had something of an impromptu party. Spirits were high and...there was pie! The wonderful wife of my cousin had prepared just what Grandma's heart desired: Coconut Cream Pie.

Grandma, having specifically requested this dessert, finally found something that would pass her lips. Those who know her wouldn't be surprised, however, as it has long been suggested that my grandmother has owed her longevity to the preserving power of sugar as it comes in the form of pie, cake, brownie, and ice cream. Of course, this sweet tooth is a family trait, but we all know where we got it.

Grandma was delighted with Bunny Boop. She called her clever and pretty. Bunny sat in Grandma's lap briefly (all either of them could take) but wouldn't hold Grandma's hand - much to Grandma's dismay.

We also visited with Grandma on Sunday for a while before we left again for Denver. This time we brought her my Chocolate Cream Pie (seriously, this recipe is FABULOUS and easy) and she again ate with (comparative) gusto.

I was told that our visit really boosted her spirits and her appetite and that she was almost an entirely different person, the change was so marked. I was just glad to have done the little I could to bring her some joy. It wasn't much, but it was what I could do and I'm glad that I did it. I wish I could have done more.

It wasn't easy for me to see her like that, to be honest. Everyone seems to have accepted the inevitable but it is harder for me. I didn't get to see her growing up as often as the rest of them and so I feel a bit cheated. She always made our time special, though. It is hard to see a fiesty woman brought to such a point. In any event, she got to see the latest great-grandchild and that means quite a lot to me.

The trip was very rough on Bunny. She got off of her schedule and her appetite fell off, but she was a pretty good girl. She missed her father greatly, even though she did get to listen to him on the phone everyday. Somehow that brought her a smile, even if she didn't quite understand it. But, it was funny to watch her try to snuggle the phone. I think she would have crawled into it if possible!

She slept through all four flights - a huge blessing, I know - but she did get cranky more than once. In fact, she threw her very first fit on Sunday and I was at a loss. It was so unlike her! I guess she is normal, afterall. That's a relief in and of itself.

The travel was uneventful, if a workout. You should have seen me schlepping through the airports of three states. I was quite a sight! Baby on hip, carseat over shoulder, diaper bag and purse over other shoulder, dragging two suitcases behind me. I no doubt looked like a refugee - a refugee from the suburbs, perhaps - but a suffering refugee nonetheless. I must have looked pitiful, because the TSA guy in charge of searching me was being extra nice.

You know how it is. I thought I was prepared, having placed all of my liquids and gells in either a Ziploc bag for inspection or in my suitcase. I forgot that I'd have to remove my shoes, though. Indeed, it was a circus. I placed my items in the plastic bins. Shoes in one bin, purse in another, diaper bag in #3, then the carseat on the belt. I then walked through the uprights with baby on hip. I thank the Lord that we didn't beep. I can only imagine what would have come next. On the other side, my friendly TSA guy took one look at me and smiled. I clearly had my hands full, I guess. He told me to take my time getting my things back together and then had to talk to me about my diaper bag and Ziploc. Apparently, at 5 am, I had missed the A&D ointment and the antibacterial no-water needed instant hand stuff. What a sweetie! He said it was no big deal.

Then, he asked me about my Ziploc. You see, I didn't know if the baby food was a solid or a liquid or solids suspended in liquid. He wasn't sure either, but assured me that I had done the right thing. Then, as I was leaving, he gave me a free Smart Cart to take to the gate. I could have kissed him! Thank you, TSA guy. You were much nicer than the bitch behind me in line who complained to you about things taking so long and the witch at the other end who so nastily told me that I was stacking things on the cart wrong. You'dve thought I was trying to smuggle something, she was so officious. TSA guy was such a pro, in fact, that he told the complainer that "we have to deal with people one-at-a-time and in a thorough manner." I would have told her that I'm the reason (apparently) that you are supposed to arrive at the airport with time to spend an hour in security, if need be. Bitch. Give me a break here, would you? I'm traveling with an infant and going to see my dying grandmother. I don't need any additional stress!

The rest of my travels were uneventful, thank goodness. I don't know if you could tell, but I was pretty keyed up as last week came to an end. Most of that is past and I'll be better as soon as I get my house back in order and go through the mountain of mail that accumulated in my absence.

More tomorrow.
posted by Phoenix | 2:39 PM | 3 comments

Friday, October 13, 2006
Not Just Beefcake: ANGUS
In my favorite story of the day, comes the news that a group of Marines are trying to raise money for injured Vets and their families by putting out a Beefcake calendar of Marines.

The calendars are priced at $14.99 and 100% of the proceeds go to the Vets. The cost of production was covered by private donors to the Freedom is Not Free group that is putting this all together.

I think this is the coolest thing ever!

I may have to buy 2 or 3 - think Christmas gift! Stocking stuffers (heh heh)!

The photos are not scandalous, but tastefully done - and Hoowee - talk about hotties! You can view the photos here and buy the calendars here.

I urge you to buy one for every red-blooded woman you know.

For the cause, of course.

h/t: Drudge
posted by Phoenix | 10:20 AM | 0 comments

Fiction Friday
Another Friday means another chapter in the Fiction Friday series.

Christina started our latest tale with The Elixir.

This week, Shane kicks the story up a notch with The Elixir (Part II).

Next week, Theresa will bring us Chapter 3.

Check it out!
posted by Phoenix | 9:16 AM | 0 comments

Thursday, October 12, 2006
Warning to Idiots:
I am not suffering fools very well at the moment. I'm about as tense as I get...and that ain't pretty folks.

Yesterday was sheer hell for someone as detail and schedule-oriented as I. For example, I had this silly appointment yesterday to turn in my Personal Wellness Profile (you may remember I posted about it asking me if there was a gun in the house). This appointment was scheduled for 2:30. I anticipated leaving for it by 1:45 because you just can't count on Madison traffic since they have East Wash leading up to the capitol torn up. And naturally, this had to be done at Meriter Hospital (okay - I could have gone to Fitchburg - but frankly, that is even more inconvenient). You know, some East Side Venues would not have been a bad idea...ARGH.

Anyway, I couldn't leave until I finished this one task. Unfortunately, my ticker was not talking to the Excel file and I had to reboot. ARGH again. So, I finally leave the office at 1:55, worried that I'm now going to be late to this thing that I'm already vexed about.

I get off of 30 on E. Washington and head south. I get almost through the construction zone when...train. Freakin' train. F-R-eakin' train. I was not pleased.

For those who are unaware, Madison, WI sits between two lakes - Lake Monona and Lake Mendota. Some idiot, many years ago, decided that the best place to put the capitol, the University, and all of the major hospitals was on the peninsula between the two lakes. A peninsula, by the by, which is probably not a full mile wide in places. That fact alone would make for interesting traffic, but add to this the fact that the trains can't run through water and you have a mess. And the opportunity to do as I did yesterday afternoon, and get caught behind the same train twice. TWICE! In the space of a distance of less than a mile! It was almost three times, but I gunned it through the last intersection knowing that the train was right behind me.

When I got to the hospital, I discovered that their take-a-ticket-and-park system wasn't working. This meant that everybody was parking there for free. Which, ipso facto meant a serious lack of available spaces. In fact, I even did the right thing and passed up two spots because they were specifically reserved for people visiting particular departments. So, I was three minutes late to my appointment. ARGH! I don't need this stress!

Earlier in the day, when I was making our airline reservations, I had a run-in with a phone system. This particular airline has a phone system that lies. LIES, I tell you! You dial the 800 number and it says it will be happy to let you talk to a person, but to ease the call flow, it wants to get some info first. It gives you some options, and I chose "existing reservations."

It then asks, among other things, if you want to make a change. Indeed! I did wish to make a change - I needed to add Bunny to my itinerary (she flies as a lap infant, but still has to be on the flight manifest and my ticket). I confirmed my flight number, my name, the airport, that time of the month, and right on down to the color of my socks (just a slight bit of hyperbole on the last two, but you get the drift).

Finally, having satisfied the disembodied voice, I am hoping to be placed on hold to wait for the next available customer service agent. But alas! the disembodied voice said goodbye and hung.up.on.me. All I can say is, if she hadn't been disembodied, she would have been, if you know what I mean. Insanely, I called back and tried again fearing the mistake was mine and I hadn't waited long enough for the clicks or something.

Nope, that didn't work either. But I still needed to make the change, so I called back a third time. I chose different secondary options on the menu and ended up even angrier at the disembodied voice's cheerful "goodbye."

But then, I wised up. I called back a fourth time and indicated my interest in NEW reservations. I walked through the system, again giving them the airport, date, flight, etc., and then got to speak to a real human. She said her name was Vicky.

"Hello, Vicky. I'm sorry, but I have to admit to a bit of subterfuge. I'm not actually interested in a new reservation. I have tickets, but your stupid phone system kept cheerfully hanging up on me. I'm hoping you can help me add my infant to the itinerary."

She seemed kind of vexed. The pause on her end was decidedly pregnant. I got the distinct feeling that she disapproved of the deceptive manner in which I had received a human being on the other end of the line. Get over it, Vicky! I didn't say YOU were stupid...yet.

And then, perhaps sensing the fact that I was riding a thin line between sanity and postal worker, she consented to "take care of that" for me. Thank God, because it could have gotten really ugly ifyouknowwhatImeanandIthinkyoudo.

I'm tense. I have this anxiety. I am not sleeping well. I have had the same headache for two days. It is right behind my right eye. Maybe it's a tumor. Okay, that's not funny. But, it makes me happy to hear in my head Arnold saying "it's not a tumah, it's not, it's not a tumah." "Boys have a penis, girls have a vagina." Great movie.

Did I mention that I had to fast for that Personal Wellness Profile? I didn't have anything but water (okay, and 6 m&ms) from 6:00 PM Tuesday night until 4:30 PM yesterday. Did I mention that I am not a happy person if I can't have caffeine?

No doubt this did not help on the whole dealing with planes, trains, and customer service things.

Phoenix needs a mani, a pedi, and a serious nap. And, maybe a hug.

So, heed this warning, Idiots of the World: I'm barely holding on at this point. Do not give me a reason to unload...
posted by Phoenix | 10:20 AM | 0 comments

Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Initial Stress Behind Us
Deep Breath...okay.

Travel arrangements have been made. Bunny and I will travel down to Chicagoland on Friday night and stay with my mom. Saturday morning we will fly to Denver, via the twin cities. Saturday afternoon we will travel from Denver with my stepmother to the farm. On Monday, we will do the reverse, flying out of Denver on Tuesday morning and arriving back home by 5 pm or so.

I want to say a huge thank you to everybody who left words of encouragement. It is wonderful to know that I have your support.

Now, the next set of stresses and worries:

- changing planes and navigating MSP with a baby on the hip
- baby's first plane ride and ears popping
- in the rush, not forgetting anything important, like a carseat or formula or bottles
- borrowing a coat for baby because it has already snowed twice in Denver (I've been busy and haven't bought one yet). Thankfully, I have a wonderful friend who has already loaned me one that will do the job. Thank you, K!
- arriving before Grandma makes her exit
- leaving my sick husband home alone
- what have I forgotten?

Needless to say, posting may be sparse for a while.
posted by Phoenix | 10:46 AM | 1 comments

Tuesday, October 10, 2006
I don't know what to do
My grandmother is not doing well. She's 97 years old - or so - and has been losing her memory for a while. First it was her short term memory and now she's having problems with the long-term as well.

Things have gotten worse in the past few days and we have been warned that she won't be with us much longer. She isn't eating very much and isn't drinking very much either.

I haven't seen her in quite a while. Since before the pregnancy. She has not met Bunny, but she has seen pictures. I have been told that she does not want a funeral, prefering instead to have a small graveside service. She doesn't want people looking at her. I can respect that.

So I have a decision to make. I can either go and see her before she leaves us and introduce her to her great-grandchild, or not. I can either go now or wait and go to the graveside service. I am torn. I definitely feel that the living are more important than the dead, and feel like it might be better to say our goodbyes. It would probably give her joy to see Bunny and that's something I'd like to give her. On the other hand, she may not remember we were there 7 minutes after we leave.

I...I'm just...hell, I don't know.

On the one hand, I'd really like to see her. But, this isn't supposed to be about me. It isn't like she's just down the road either. I'm going to have to drive two hours to get to an airport, fly for three hours, then drive for 5 more before I can see her. I tell you this not because it is the trouble of the travel that concerns me, but to point out that I can't do this every weekend until she passes. We are already scheduled to go out for Thanksgiving, but she likely won't make it that long.

Having written it all out like that, I think I must go now and not wait. Sometimes it is good to write just so you explore your feelings and options.
posted by Phoenix | 10:57 AM | 6 comments

Monday, October 09, 2006
Don't hold your breath...
The DPRK expects Congratulations from the UN Security Council for its ground-breaking nuclear test.

I say again, Kim Jong-Il, don't hold your breath. Seems to me your arm is nearly broken congratulating yourself. You wouldn't also want to pass out from lack of air...

Do you need proof of how disrespected and useless the UN and security council is viewed by the world's tyrants? Here's what the DPRK ambassador to the UN had to say:
"It will be better for the Security Council of the United Nations to congratulate the DPRK scientists and researchers instead of doing such notorious, useless and rigorous resolutions or whatever,"

Honey, that's not respect. Fuck, that isn't even polite. That is the equivalent of a "Shut the Fuck Up, Bitch!"
posted by Phoenix | 11:02 AM | 0 comments

My weekend
I got home on Friday to the lovely news that my new mixer had arrived. Happy Birthday to ME! Now I should be able to complete my Christmas Cookie duties in record time, being able to double and triple batch. Did I mention that the new mixer has a 14-cup Flour Power?

This is POWER, baby!

It is the nickel pearl finish, too, which matches the rest of the kitchen nicely without being something that I'm going to have to polish all the time. I was unable to get it to fit in the previously approved spot, though. It is too tall to fit under those cupboards, but I've found a lovely home for it nonetheless.

Prince Charming went off to work on Friday evening and returned home after Bunny and I were already up. He sent me back to bed while he took his turn with Bunny. I got up 2 hours later and he went to bed. And he slept. And he slept. And then he got up, took some Nyquil, and went back to bed to sleep some more. I barely saw him. He got up later that evening only to fall asleep on the couch. He watched/slept through the Badger game (broadcast on delay Saturday night at 10:30). He let me sleep in (until 7 am) on Sunday, and then it was more of the previous day.

I could really use a little mommy/daddy time.


posted by Phoenix | 10:41 AM | 1 comments

Wake Up!
Well, I woke up this morning to the news that Kim Jong-Il had finally done it. He tested his nukes in an underground test that was felt in several Asian nations. Lovely.

We now live in a world where the #2 Psychopath of the world has measured the length of his penis. (I reserve the #1 spot for that freak show in Iran.)

I am really angry. I am. The DPRK is essentially mugging the USA. Kim Jong-Il seems to think that we are going to bend over and take it - and we may yet if the Democrats have anything to say about it. It really makes me angry that this SOB is still alive and making his threats.

He wants unilateral talks with the US, doncha know. Nevermind the fact that this is diplomatically irresponsible. The last time we acted "unilaterally" we earned the enmity of the rest of the western world (save England and Australia). The suggestion that the US should meet alone with the DPRK is beyond stupid.

The people with the greatest interest in the situation - namely South Korea, Japan, China, and Russia - all need to be at the table. Imagine how phenomenally stupid it would be for us to negotiate peace with Hezbollah on our own. It leaves the likely victims completely out of the discussion! We are not their representatives - they can speak for themselves. It is not up to us to sell them down the river, either.

The DPRK's insistence on two-way talks with the US amounts to little more than a mugging in a dark alley. If we don't meet their demands, they nuke us, or somebody else. Then, they get to tell the world that we wouldn't feed their starving people. Somehow I suspect that the MSM will miss the obvious point - that if Kim Jong-Il were worried about his people, he would have spent his nuke money on food.

This is asinine. If we don't deal swiftly and harshly with Kim Jong-Il it will embolden Iran's resident psychopath who believes it is his destiny to bring about the end of the world. The rest of the hand-wringing idiots who believe there is still time for diplomacy need to wake the fuck up. Kim has nukes and is prepared to use them. Mahmoud wants nukes, will do anything to get them, and believes it is his destiny to use them.

Do you want to wait any longer? 'Cause I don't. I don't want us to be held hostage anymore, walking this fine line between wackjobs. I don't like thugs. I don't like it when a foreign nation holds us up and asks for our wallets and jewelry.

These SOBs need a bullet between the eyes before they manage to destroy the world.
posted by Phoenix | 9:38 AM | 0 comments

Friday, October 06, 2006
Fiction Friday
Double, double, toil and trouble,
Fires burn and cauldrons bubble

It seems we have a witching tale to finish out this round of fiction. How appropriate for the month, huh?

Christina has whet my appetite with The Elixir.

I can hardly wait to see where this goes! You know, I could go for a little breath of newt...

Check it out!
posted by Phoenix | 1:26 PM | 1 comments

I've got next to nothing today.

And, I've got lots on my plate.

Maybe I'll post something later.
posted by Phoenix | 11:52 AM | 0 comments

Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Reminder to self:
Nothing that Neutrogena makes belongs on your toothbrush.

Wake up!
posted by Phoenix | 10:10 AM | 1 comments

So this is happiness
There is a great deal to be said about knowing yourself.

Yesterday as I was driving to work, I was congratulating myself on my happy life and my great good fortune.

(Hey, look, you were looking for a change from yesterday's gripe fest, weren't you? Suck it up.)

I used to be a lot more successful, professionally speaking. I had the ear of the bigwigs and was respected in my own right. I was trusted, I made things happen. When I got married, I lost a lot of that. No longer was I important, my work barely mattered. I was not invested in my work. There was no longer a drive to stay late or take my work home.

Now, this isn't because all of a sudden I became a lazybones. I merely changed careers and found myself much less...necessary, and my stature went from "professional" to "female." Not even kidding.

It was hard adapting to that. It was hard on my ego to suddenly be earning 2/3 of my old value. But, I came to terms with it. I got married to a wonderful man who is also my best friend. We built a home together in the far "suburbs" of Madison and began filling it. Then, three years later, we added a baby to our happy home.

I used to be a mover and a shaker, and now I am a wife and mother who also works.

My priorities have shifted. Yes, I'd like to be important and productive, respected and powerful again. But, for now, I have more important things to do. If that means I've betrayed the Feminazis, so be it. They've never really concerned me. I don't have anything to prove on that front.

In my old career, I was the first woman they had hired for a management position. In addition, I was hired in a highly technical capacity. When I say that this was always a man's field before, I'm not kidding. Yes, my sex was a burden in the beginning. But then, so was my youth and my appearance. These curls have a tendency to make me look younger, what can I say?

Moreover, farmers are not the most accepting of people. They've been schmoozed and b-s'ed by ever chemical rep to ever come down the pike (I wasn't in chemical sales), so they weren't going to be snowed by some Sally-come-lately.

No. I had to earn my respect. And that was a real accomplishment. It was an accomplishment that really meant something to me because my last name hadn't done it for me: I did it. (I should explain that my family is in the industry but that I wasn't working for them, or even in the same immediate sphere of the industry.)

I earned the respect of the President/CEO and earned a promotion to a much more challenging position. And that was even better, because I worked with people who admired me, respected me, and sought my opinion on all sorts of things. I had a future.

Which is not to say that everybody liked me. There were a lot of people who did not. Yeah, I'm the "bitch." That's what male insubordinates used to call me when I expected them to work. That is, when they weren't speculating about my sex life. Boy, were they ever wrong.

I am an achievement-driven goal-oriented person. This has not changed in the slightest. I still want and expect myself to perform. But now, ...now I am a mommy and a wife. My personal professional goals have been set aside for a while so that I may concentrate on those new roles.

The funny thing is, back when I was important, I wasn't really happy. I was lonely and I wondered when I would start living my life. I was sad quite a lot of the time and involved in a long-distance relationship that seemed hopeless. But today I am living that life and it feels really good. I am happy. Happier than I've ever been, I think.

My ambition is still there, in the proofing oven trying to rise, but I'm okay.

So this is happiness.


posted by Phoenix | 9:10 AM | 0 comments

Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Big Surprise
Mexico doesn't want the US to build a fence.

Are you shocked? I'm not.

In fact, I would have bet on this as a certainty. Mexico needs to understand that they aren't helping themselves with this stuff.

Damn. I'm really grouchy today.
posted by Phoenix | 10:13 AM | 1 comments

Stomping Mad
Beware. I am not in a particularly friendly mood at the moment.

First, Mark Foley. I don't particularly know if what this idiot did was illegal or not, but I am very concerned. I am concerned that his prediliction for young people is a precursor to something more sinister. I find the fact that he turned himself into a detox facility when he got caught as pathetic. Of course, if it works for a Kennedy.... He seems to have acted in a creepy manner. I am astounded that it hasn't come out before now, to be honest. I don't know why those other kids or their parents from the past incidents kept quiet, but I feel that they were negligent in doing so.

Furthermore, I don't think this is a political issue. I think this is a children's safety issue. But then, I'd never send my child to Congress to fetch and carry for this group of thieves in the first place. I am sick of hearing Democrats play Gotcha and Republicans say "we knew he was friendly and we didn't want calls of homophobia raining down on our heads."

I think both parties should be able to agree that our children deserve our protection. We should teach them to stay away from people who make them uncomfortable, even in the workplace. Especially when it is discomfort in the presence of people who have power over them, like teachers, other parents, and workplace superiors. I don't care what party you are in, this isn't hard stuff to come to terms with.

Frankly, I think the people who are frothing at the mouth over this are disgusting. If it was consensual (and from the transcripts I've seen it appears that way), then it is just the age old rule of politics being played out: "Never get caught with a dead girl or a live boy." There is no doubt that Foley acted reprehensibly. He was a figure of authority who knew better than to do what he did. But then, so was President Clinton.

I don't say this to excuse the matter. Not at all. I am just as pissed off about this as I was about Clinton. I just don't get why people have to make this about politics. It seems to me that we should be able to agree about something like this.

Next issue: The school shooting in Pennsylvania.

This just makes me so angry. There is no excuse for this. None. This stupid son of a bitch killed innocent children for no apparent reason. But, not to worry, our Everybody's-a-Victim society will be sure to find some reason to explain his actions. Already we know he was an "excellent father" and "loving, supportive, and thoughtful." His actions, in my mind, argue otherwise.

Do not kid yourself, this act was premeditated. He brought multiple weapons with him. He chose a school with no security. He brought stuff to tie up the girls. For heaven's sake, he brought toilet paper! If that isn't premediatation, I don't know what is.

The news accounts indicate that he left several notes for his wife. Suicide notes explaining he was seeking revenge for something that happened 20 years ago. I'm calling BULLSHIT. It isn't "revenge" for something that happened 20 years ago. His victims were not alive 20 years ago. They didn't hurt him. Moreover, whatever happened to him 20 years ago can't have been all that bad. For one thing, he survived it! These little girls don't look to be so lucky.

I had a conversation with someone yesterday about this incident, as the story was unfolding and I pointed out the fact that this stuff has got to stop. I don't think people should take out other people with them when they commit suicide. I think people who commit suicide by cop are the very worst sort. You can't take it? Find some way to off yourself in your sleep. Don't take out 5 little Amish schoolgirls on your way. Jackass.

This person I was talking to seemed upset that I would say such a thing. This person made excuses for the person saying he must be crazy. I didn't buy it and said as much. Granted, the news was still rolling in on the story, but I didn't feel like that was an excuse.

The whole point, I was told, is that a crazy person's actions don't make sense.

But this person wasn't crazy. From all accounts he had a lucid morning, walked his kids to the bus stop, and then went and terrorized these girls. He had enough presence of mind to plan his actions and write a note to his wife explaining.

Nobody has claimed that he told them "the voices" made him do it. Nobody has claimed that he has never been "right" since his abduction by aliens. Oh no. Instead they are saying the death of his daughter in 1997 may have been a stressor. While I'm sure that the death of a child is a significant horror, it happened in 1997. Nearly 10 years ago! If he was still struggling with it, he could have gotten help. But media reports also blame some incident from 20 years ago, when the guy must have been about 12 years old.

Fine. If you are so desperate to find some psychological excuse for his actions, I can't argue with that. I personally find it abhorrent, however. We shouldn't be so quick to find excuses. Excuses, afterall, are not going to change anything for the families of his victims.

Update: Now the MSM is reporting that the Pennsylvania gunman told his wife that he molested someone 20 years ago. So, let me get this straight, you get revenge for a crime you committed against someone 20 years ago, by killing innocent children now? That doesn't make any sense whatsoever.
posted by Phoenix | 9:09 AM | 0 comments


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