Monday, July 30, 2007
Next Project: Naughty Cakes
My mother has asked and I have consented to baking some cake(s) for a birthday party with the intriguing theme "The Two Moons of August."

So, I'm thinking of doing something along the lines of this:

Only, it would be less sexual and more moon-y.

I'm actually thinking of doing two: one male and one female. Too much?
posted by Phoenix | 10:34 AM | 1 comments

Starting the Week with an Adventure
Monday. As a rule, I despise Mondays. It is a grim reminder that I am not among the ladies of leisure, the Ladies Who Lunch, but the Working Women. Somedays it sucks not to be a trust fund baby, I tell ya. What I wouldn't give for a couple of oil wells on the farm...

Anyhoo, today's rat race actually began with a rat-type obstacle course. Have you seen that Kia commercial where a bunch of cars are playing the equivalent of musical chairs - except with cars and parking spaces? When the music stops, all the cars rush to find a free parking space. That's sort of what my morning commute was like.

Now, I live in a bedroom community. We live in a far suburb (if you stretch the definition) of Madison. Our hometown is, to reference the Goldilock's terminology, just right. Not too big, not too small. Running through this fair village, from north to south, is a set of railroad tracks. No big deal, the trains run through at about 2 a.m. and we live far enough away that the train never wakes us.

The train was an issue this morning, however. Our morning began as usual, with Bunny Boop sleeping until I was putting on my jewelry. I got her ready and both of us breakfasted and then we geared up and loaded into the Jeep. Phase One complete. Next: Child Deployment.

I steered my way the 5 blocks toward the sitter's house but found my way blocked. The train that goes through at 2 a.m. decided to stop, sitting in the middle of town on the rails, effectively bisecting the village and making east-west travel impossible. Now, if you live on the west side of the tracks, this is no big deal because you can get to the interstate. We, however, live on the east side of town. The babysitter lives on the west side of about 150 feet. Literally, I could not get there. After racing around town for a while looking for an east-west running road that was clear, I punted. I went back to the highway and headed south. I turned west at the first road clearly outside of town and meandered my way into town managing to miss the train.

Then I had to backtrack back to go to work. I was like a rat on a wheel, I swear. It stressed me out! But, it is okay. I was only 5 minutes late and I have recovered. But, you have to wonder what the rest of the week is going to be like if this is how it begins.


posted by Phoenix | 9:58 AM | 0 comments

Friday, July 27, 2007
Bad Blogger
No, I haven't fallen into a pit, broken an ankle, and succumbed to dehydration, waiting for some future archeologist to unearth me. I've just been preoccupied with projects and at a lack for anything informative to say.

Work is work.

I'm still working on the website for the family business. It is coming along beautifully! I'm really pleased with how much I've learned and the quality of product I've managed to produce. True, I'm no Apothegm Designs, but I'm not half bad.

I have an entire raft of projects that I'd like to tackle. I'd like to paint the living room, master bedroom, and masterbath. I'd like to finally get the crown moulding up on the master bedroom's tray ceiling. I'd like to sew new bedding. I'd like to start on Bunny's halloween costume. (This will be her first real halloween - I'm thinking of having her be either Hermione Granger or one of the Backyardigans.)

I'd like to change the way the drapes in the living room are hung. I'd like to get back to work on my book. I'd like to get started on Bunny's play gym in the back yard....

I'd like to do some serious cooking, maybe even some preserves.

I'd like to go back to sleep...

Tuesday is a big day for us. Bunny will be going to the zoo for the first time ever. I can't wait to see her reaction to the animals. I will, of course, be taking the camera, so no worries!
posted by Phoenix | 11:36 AM | 0 comments

Monday, July 23, 2007
Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows
I finished the book in record time - about 6 hours. I have much to say on the book, but I intend to hold off for a week so that I don't spoil it for anyone.

I do have a few general comments, however.

First, the book is far and away the darkest. Rowling had told us that there were two significant deaths in this book, but I count two in the first 100 pages. And, there are many more to follow. I know which two deaths she must have been referring to, but honestly, you could make a case that there were at least 6 imporant deaths. I'll also say that this is the first time I ever put the book down in disgust (twice) because I felt that all was lost. I am happy to say that I picked the book back up both times and was rewarded for doing so.

This final book wrapped up all the details neatly, though I still have a question or two. I am currently re-reading the book and will easily have finished it again to post more thoughts next week.

Let me just say one more thing: Anybody who still disputes the WWII metaphors is a complete nut. They are obvious and blatant.


posted by Phoenix | 9:40 AM | 0 comments

Friday, July 20, 2007
Dear Senators Feingold and Kohl:
I forwarded the letter below to Wisconsin Senators Feingold and Kohl as a result of their voting against the John Doe Protection.

Dear Sir:

I am writing to express my complete and abject disapproval of your vote today on the John Doe Protection.

Frankly, I am disgusted with you.

Disgusted. Mortified. And, even a bit...hurt that this is your intent. The fact that you don't see the need to protect the people who see fit to bring possible bombs and people who would do others harm to justice and prevent murder is anathema to me.

I have personally notified authorities of suspicious unaccompanied bags in airports on no less than three occassions. And, should I ever be in the position where I need to do something more, like report someone's suspicious behavior, I will continue to do so as my duty as an American citizen. And, I suppose that should someone feel that my alerting security has hurt their feelings, I'll have to meet them in court and defend myself, no thanks to the likes of you.

In my opinion, this vote was craven and irresponsible.

I want you to be aware that I will never vote for you again, and will do my very best to campaign on behalf of your replacement.


Security Mom
posted by Phoenix | 12:30 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, July 19, 2007
According to the banner on MSNBC, a judge has thrown out Valerie Plame's lawsuit with the White House over the CIA leak.

No details as yet.

WASHINGTON - A federal judge on Thursday dismissed former CIA operative Valerie Plame's lawsuit against members of the Bush administration in the CIA leak scandal.

Plame, the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, had accused Vice President Dick Cheney and others of conspiring to leak her identity in 2003.

Plame said that violated her privacy rights and was illegal retribution for her husband's criticism of the administration.


The judge dismissed the case on jurisdictional grounds, and said he wouldn't express an opinion on the constitutional arguments.

So, there you go.


posted by Phoenix | 2:02 PM | 0 comments

Obama, Grand Social Engineer
Illinois Senator and Presidential hopeful Democrat Barak Obama wants sex education - age appropriate sex education - to be taught to kindergartners.
"But it’s the right thing to do," Obama continued, "to provide age-appropriate
sex education, science-based sex education in schools."

For Kindergartners? Kindergartners?!? I swear, that's just stupid. While he advocates age appropriate information (whatever that means) he also insists it be science-based. What the devil does that mean, exactly? I'm not entirely sure. I can tell you this though, I think 5 and 6 years old is too soon for the facts of life. Call me a prude. Call me a priggish bitch if you like, but I'd prefer that my child's childhood lasted a while longer.

Frankly, it is my job to reveal the facts of life to my child, not the Kindergarten teacher, not the public school system, and certainly not the government or some Presidential hopeful's job. Mine. Mine and my husband's duty.

Now I realize that a great many parents suck and won't do the talk at all. I am not opposed to some sex-ed in school. But, I think it should wait until the fourth or fifth grade. Is that too much to ask? If a kindergartner has a question about sex or where babies come from, can't the teacher direct the child to ask Mom or Dad? What does that hurt? This way at least the parent's have the option of telling the child as much as they want or as little as necessary to satisfy the child.

Inquisitiveness runs deep and early in my family. And, of course, we grew up on the farm. I was aware, at least peripherally or generally, that baby animals come from grown animals. I knew that my baby sister came from my mommy's tummy. I didn't really need to know more than that in Kindergarten. And frankly, there isn't a whole lot of science in what I just related.

Of course, this will not satisfy all children, but this is still a job for the parents. My cousin's first child has a mean streak of inquisitiveness. At the youngest of ages he was asking questions that his parents could answer generally, but this child delved deeper and was satisfied with nothing less than the full and complete story. This kid is going to be a scientist or astronaut, I'm sure. But my point is, this child is not the norm. Most kids don't need to know anything more than can be taught with a lima bean and some soil. Plant the seed, watch it grow.

Anything more than that I'm going to have a problem with. I feel like our children grow up faster every year, what with teachers letting the cat out of the bag on Santa and shining the stark bright light of reality on the wonderful mysteries of childhood. What does it hurt to let you child believe in miracles and mysteries and wonder? Nothing. They will grow up soon enough. They don't need help in this regard from Barak Obama.

Thank you, but no thank you.


posted by Phoenix | 9:38 AM | 0 comments

Diplomatic Tennis
The Brits lob one over the net and the Russians send it winging back.

In response to Britain's expulsion of 4 Russian diplomats as a protest for Russia refusing to extradite Andrei Lugovoi to face charges in the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, the Russians are now expelling 4 British diplomats.

In addition, Russia is vowing to stop cooperating with Britain on counter-terrorism efforts. Now that is surely not good news, but, in my opinion, Russia has only been pretending to be an ally in the GWOT. So, no big surprise.

There is also further information today about that attempt on Boris Berezovsky's life, first reported here yesterday.

The murder of a second Russian dissident on British soil was averted last month when police and intelligence agencies intercepted a suspected killer in London, it was confirmed last night.

In a move likely to damage already strained relations between Britain and Russia, Scotland Yard said that officers arrested a man on suspicion of conspiracy to murder on June 21 and held him for two days. He was later handed over to the immigration service and deported back to Russia.

The man arrived in London in mid-June allegedly with orders to murder the billionaire Russian exile Boris Berezovsky, a staunch opponent of President Putin, who has been granted asylum to live in Britain.


In the latest case, MI5 and MI6 had been alerted to the plot and were awaiting the man’s arrival in Britain. He was identified as he arrived on June 16 at Heathrow and placed under round-the-clock surveillance. He checked into the Hilton hotel on Park Lane close to Mr Berezovsky’s offices in Mayfair. He was accompanied by a young boy, apparently as cover for his mission.

According to intelligence sources, “the surveillance appeared to corroborate the prior intelligence” of the murder plot. The arrival of the would-be killer led police to advise Mr Berezovsky to leave the country for a period. He left the same day, June 16.

Five days later the suspect was arrested by officers from the Scotland Yard Counter Terrorism Command on suspicion of conspiracy to murder. He was questioned for two days but there was insufficient evidence to proceed to a prosecution.

He was released on June 23 into the custody of the immigration service. Officials revoked his visa and he was placed on a flight to Moscow. Sources said that he would be unable to get another visa for at least ten years.

While the police would not go into detail, the statement appeared to corroborate allegations made earlier by Mr Berezovsky, who claimed that he had narrowly escaped the same fate as Mr Litvinenko, also an outspoken critic of Mr Putin. The 61-year-old tycoon said that he had first received a warning three months ago from Russian contacts with connections to the FSB, the successor to the KGB.

“They told me the FSB were creating a plot to kill me,” he said. “They told me someone who knew me would travel to London, and would call to meet me, and he would kill me and would not try to hide.

“He would explain that it was for business reasons, he had a problem with me in business, and he decided to kill me, and he will get 20 years,” said Mr Berezovsky. “He will spend ten years in jail, will be released, will have a lot of money, and be a hero of Russia. I didn’t take it seriously, but what happened is exactly what they said.”

Dude. That's just sloppy work on the part of the Russians. They are slipping a bit, or getting too cocky over their victories with Litvinenko and Politkovskaya.

Still, people who speak out against Putin don't have a very long shelf life these nice that Russia has become all Democratized and Westernized, isn't it? (That's sarcasm, folks.)


posted by Phoenix | 8:52 AM | 0 comments

Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Now Actively Twitching in Anticipation
two and a half days

two and a half days

Hallelujah! just two and a half more days!

No, I'm not excited, why do you ask?

Just because I dreamed last night of going to the grocery store on my very own firebolt...


posted by Phoenix | 12:01 PM | 1 comments

Murder in My Hometown
I don't know why I am so fascinated by this, but I am. See how generous I am? I'm going to share.

You won't find any news articles online on this, at least, I haven't. I am, as you may be aware, from a very small community in Southwestern Kansas. There are only 2,000 people who live in the entire county, so everybody pretty much knows everybody and their business.

It is also a very quiet community, as you might have guessed. We have one stoplight in the county and it only functions two times per day during the school year. That is, it does the whole green, yellow, red thing only in the 15 minutes prior to and following the school day when school is in session. So, we don't have a lot of crime either. We have some problems with illegal immigrants causing trouble, maybe a few wild teenagers having parties, but by and large, it is a very sleepy little town on the High Plains.

Well, about two years ago now (I'm not exactly sure on the timeline) there was a man who went missing. Vanished! Now, we are talking about the great American desert here. People don't usually just go walk through the countryside - there's no water out there - nor do they just drive around haphazardly. People tend to take supplies with them in case of an automotive failure because you can literally be 8 hours from town by foot. So, prudence would dictate a bit of careful planning. Anyway, this guy disappears.

He wasn't exactly a pillar of the community. He was even a bit of a flake, or a nomad in the contemporary. He had, in the past, taken a flier, dropped everything, and shuffled off to California. But this seemed different. For one thing, his mother knew nothing of any plans to leave town (she is a local resident). And, interestingly enough, his company vehicle was found abandoned in the middle of nowhere quite suddenly.

When folks go missing out there, we go look for them. So, when he went missing, people searched. The vehicle was not located on the road during the search. It was found several days later in an area that had been searched. Curious, no?

So, anyway, the story continues to unfold as some curious developments are made known to law enforcement. It seems that his ex-wife (a local) and her new husband had to replace a front widow in their home due to a bullet hole. Then they had the front porch painted. Also anecdotally interesting, he was last seen at the local AMPRIDE ( a convenience store/gas station) and informed someone there, when asked, that he was going to talk to his ex-wife about their child. So, he was headed her direction.

She and her husband claim that he never arrived.

In the course of the investigation, two things happened pretty quickly. First, the police discovered what they believed to be blood on that freshly painted porch. Then, they must have had it tested because not long after that they disassembled the porch for evidence. The second thing that happened was that the KBI (Kansas Bureau of Investigation) took over the investigation. Our local deputies were no longer the lead, though they still did grunt work like searching for the body.

It was soon determined to be a homicide and the ex-wife and her husband are currently on trial.

My father (and half the county) was called as potential jurors. My father was struck from the jury on a question about knowledge of DNA (we think), but his best friend and his brother-in-law are on the jury. Nobody in the community is talking about the trial, however. The reason, I am told, is because nobody wants a retrial. The trial is expected to take about a month and nobody wants the community to suffer the hardship any longer than that. Don't forget, this is a very small community. Those are farmers and grain elevator managers and critical members of the community on the jury. If the trial goes on too long or ends in a mistrial, the local economy (and local businesses) will take a hit. To insure that this trial is untainted, nobody is talking about it.

There are a couple of interesting little tidbits about the trial. First, the judge came out of retirement to sit the trial. In that area, counties share traveling judges. The judge will be in one place on Monday, a different place on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. So as not to disrupt other legal matters in the surrounding counties. Also, the judge and jury, prosecutors and defense all agreed to different hours for court. It is my understanding that the day will begin at 7 am and end at 3 pm to allow farmers and others to attend to their own business in what remains of the daylight. Cool, huh?

The jury is not being sequestered for two basic reasons. One, there aren't enough hotel rooms in the county to accomodate 12 jurors. And, as my husband quite rightly (if humorously) points out: they are practically sequestered already. The local media is limited to a weekly print newspaper that is released each Wednesday. However, if you live out of town (as a great many do), you don't get the paper until it comes in Friday's mail. The lack of big town news coverage would indicate that it isn't on their radar, no matter the KBI's interest. This last point intrigues me because the last time the KBI was in town we were flooded with MSM hacks. I guess their last fruitless vigil put them off a return trip. As I might have mentioned, there aren't a lot of hotel rooms in town...

So, it seems that the ex-wife and her husband stand accused of the fellow's murder and time will bear out what the evidence is against them. I'll try to keep you informed of the developments if I hear any, though it may be that I have nothing to report until the end of the trial due to the self-imposed community gag order.

Oh! I forgot one thing. Another reason why the disappearance was a bit hinky was the fact that his pregnant girlfriend/fiance was also not aware of any intentions on his part to leave the county. Of course, she is the daughter of a notorious hot-head and from all accounts does not seem to be broken up by his disappearance, so maybe he did leave her. There is also some suggestion (and eyewitnesses) that the ex-wife has a temper and that the custody arrangement of their child was a hot button issue. The ex-wife apparently shouted down the little old lady who is the paternal grandmother at a ballgame when the grandmother requested time with the grandchild. It was very loud and it stopped the ballgame, so there are plenty of witnesses.

From all reports, the ex-wife is a bit angry and has a temper and her new husband...well, let's just say that she wears the pants in the family and he presses them.

I'm telling you, this is fascinating stuff...


posted by Phoenix | 9:07 AM | 0 comments

Next Up: Berezovsky
It seems that Mother Russia hasn't exterminated quite all of her enemies yet.

Berezovsky is next, if this report is correct.

London - Russia wanted to murder Russian oligarch and Kremlin critic Boris Berezovsky in London several weeks ago, he told British broadcaster BBC on Wednesday.

The police had informed him about a murder plot three weeks ago and told him to leave Britain, Berezovsky said.

The Russian government had been behind the plot, he said.

He had also received a tip-off from Russia, he added.

'Someone I know was meant to come to London to meet me and kill me publicly without hiding. He was later meant to say he had done it for business purposes,' Berezovsky said.

The Sun tabloid daily reported earlier, a hit man had been hired to shoot Berezovsky at the Hilton hotel in the city centre, but the man had been captured in time following a secret service tip-off.

The police have not confirmed the reports.

Dude, don't get on Putin's shit list. People on that list have health problems.


posted by Phoenix | 9:03 AM | 0 comments

Isn't it Ironic, doncha think?
Democrats in the U.S. Senate held a slumber party overnight, perhaps you've heard?

Instead of braiding each other's hair and filling in slam books, or even crushing on Scott Baio or Kirk Cameron, they decided to bitch and moan (classic teenage girl activities also) about the war in Iraq. Specifically, they want to vote to bring the troops home, quit, give-up. In short, they want to lose. I don't see any other way to describe it. We are just now seeing the first results of the new and improved strategy and they want to cut and run as though The New Kids on the Block are across the mall.

I read somewhere this morning (forgive me for not linking to the comment, I lost it and can't attribute) where someone said, "if the Democrats had fought to win this war with half the enthusiasm they've fought to lose it, we might have already won."

There's some truth in that. Do you think Iraq exists in a bubble? Of course not. The bad guys watch CNN. They know who the anti-war senators are. They've heard the MSM bleat on about the "unpopularity of the war." (Aside - excuse me, but has there ever been a popular war?) In my opinion, and I stress the last word in that clause, Harry Reid even bringing this up for debate is an act of treason.

That's right. I said treason. American men and women are in harms way and the Democrats in the Senate believe that the best thing to do is waste time debating. Fuck if that isn't stupid. You aren't "supporting the troops" as you claim, you are emboldening the enemy. And, just in case the Democrats aren't clear on the term "enemy" when used outside of partisan politics on the beltway, the enemy would be the bad guys firing RPGs, rifles, and IEDs at our troops. They are killing innocent Iraqi civilians and children like they are bugs on the patio, keeping the bug zapper zapping non-stop.

Supporting the troops would be to give them a chance. It would be supportive to let the new and improved strategy have a chance to produce results. But no! Instead, let us bitch and moan in an overnite session in the Senate so that we can get plenty of jabs in at the President.

All those fuckers look like fools to my mind's eye, that is when I don't see them as out and out traitors.

So, I find it ironic that the news this morning is all about how we captured another big baddie in Iraq on the Fourth of July. No doubt we've been exploiting his intel in the days since.

You know, it is incredibly disheartening, this lack of love that the majority of Democrats seem to have for this great nation. They are the elected leaders of our country, and yet they want nothing more than to see us lose a war. They are invested in the loss. They need it to happen for themselves. Their lust for a loss in Iraq has nothing to do with preserving this country or our way of life, and everything to do with their next election, being "right", and sticking it to the President, all the better to gain more seats and the White House in November 2008.

It used to be that leadership was about making the tough decisions, showing backbone, and proving yourself with deeds instead of words. It used to be about inspiring people and pushing toward a greater goal. The Democrats lack backbone and the toughest decision they make is where to have lunch. Their greater goal is gaining power.

It is quite defeating to know that these poor excuses for leaders are on our team...
posted by Phoenix | 8:30 AM | 0 comments

Monday, July 16, 2007
Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix
So, I finally got to see the movie on Sunday. I went to the 10 am matinee. Get this: the theater was crowded! Not packed, but more crowded than I would have expected for a Sunday morning matinee.

Honestly, I have to say that this was my favorite HP movie so far. Granted, the first one is a classic and you can't beat it, but this is largely due to the fact that it was supremely faithful to the text. Fans of the books had no reason to dislike the first movie. The second movie was also pretty faithful, but it was my least favorite book, so it just sort of falls flat with me. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is a really good book. I really like the story. The movie sucked, however. I know the critics just love Alfonso Cuaron's take on HP, but I thought it sucked. I didn't like the way "Moony" was so CGI or the way he so strongly resembled the CGI Scooby Doo. And, another complaint that I had was the way that the entire movie seems to take place in a single day, or less than a week anyway. I just didn't feel time passing like I should have and it distressed me. The Fourth, or Goblet, is easily one of my favorite books. To me, this is where the story really begins to get interesting. Goblet the movie was good. Definitely better than Azkaban, but it still fell short of making me completely happy and I believe that this is due to how much was left out of the story.

Phoenix, the movie, was exceptional. Yes, there were things left out of the movie that I would have liked to see included, but the movie didn't suffer for it. I would have liked to see more menacing by the Inquisitorial Squad, and more of Draco abusing his power. I would have liked to have seen Fred & George's swamp. I really missed the whole return of Rita Skeeter and her writing the exclusive interview with Harry Potter for the Quibbler. But, all in all, it was an excellent adaptation.

Now for the mechanics...

It was great to see the Dudders again. I thought it was funny to see him dressed like a hip-hop gangsta guy. Mrs. Figg was good, but I expected her to be a bit less fearful and a bit more batty. Kreacher was sufficiently nasty, though I would have liked to see Mother Black and him interact a bit. Jason Isaacs was again deliciously evil as Lucious Malfoy. I can't wait to see him get him comeuppance, though we may not get to see that. The end of this movie sort of left that part out. Imelda Staunton brought Delores Umbridge to life, right down to the little attention-getting cough. She was nasty, to be sure, but it was done a little more playfully than I would have chosen. She reads a little nastier, but she was a delight on screen and I loved seeing her getting into trouble with the Centaurs. The young actress who portrayed Luna Lovegood was excellent, really excellent. She managed to nail the dreamy/flighty/oddly serious and insightful Luna to perfection. Much screen time was given to her, so I suspect that we'll be seeing Luna again in Book 7. Alan Rickman was again amazing as Snape, and honestly, he is Snape to me. When I read the books, I see Rickman's face as Snape in my mind.

Helena Bonham Carter. Helena Bonham Carter. I think she's better as Belletrix Lestrange than Ralph Fiennes is as Voldemort. She is creepy, sick, twisted, ugly, sinister, malevolent. I think she's Belletrix the way Rickman is Snape for me. Perfect. She leaps off the screen and is flat out wicked, check the safety of your kids-wicked. Top Drawer performance, that.

Daniel Radcliffe has become a much better actor. I actually believed him this time when he portrayed Harry's anger. This may have something to do with the screenplay again, or the fact that Radcliffe is now old enough to acurately portray the emotion. I'm not sure. He only fell flat for me a couple of times. Rupert Grint is going to be an actor who survives these movies, I think. He is charming on screen and you can tell he loves the comedy. Every scene with him is a joy to watch. Emma Watson personifies Hermione Granger for me the way Rickman and Bonham Carter do with their characters. She is spot on perfect. In this movie in particular, we see a side of Hermione that is not quite so by-the-book and it is absolutely refreshing to see Watson never miss a step.

Frankly, I loved every minute of it and can't wait to see it again.


posted by Phoenix | 11:13 AM | 1 comments

I'm developing a hum
I am so excited, so overthetop freaked, that I'm vibrating. I'm actually beginning to hum!

Why? What's got me so hyper? Well, that would be Friday's big event, the midnight release of the seventh and final installment in the Harry Potter series. I am so ready!

I have big plans to go pick up my arm band on Thursday (determines my place in line). Yippee!



posted by Phoenix | 11:11 AM | 0 comments

Friday, July 13, 2007
Happy Birthday!
He never reads this site, but Sunday is Prince Charming's birthday.

Happy Birthday, honey!


posted by Phoenix | 11:25 AM | 0 comments

Oh Happy Day!
We are enjoying our third day of perfect weather here in Madison. I have my sandals off, the windows open, and life is good.

Oh - Happy Friday the Thirteenth. I hope you get unlucky tonight.

(which may not make any sense to you, but it is perfectly sensible in my head)
posted by Phoenix | 11:16 AM | 0 comments

Thursday, July 12, 2007
Query to Readers at Large
Are there any bloggers out there who might be interested in being the next generation of Demystifying Divas, writing on weekly topics? And, for the fellas, are any of you interested in writing on the same topics from the male perspective for The Men's Club?

Next, anybody out there want to get a fiction writing project going?
posted by Phoenix | 3:29 PM | 3 comments

Sometimes Blogger sucks
I have been trying for about 30 minutes to publish a post and getting negative results.

This is a test.
posted by Phoenix | 11:59 AM | 0 comments

Litvinenko Poisoning Fallout
If you are a regular reader, you know that I believe that my sister is a spy, that I write poorly plotted, contrived, and ridiculous spy stories, and that real life spy stories fascinate me.

Indeed, I followed the story of the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, a Russian defector to Great Britain, with a certain passion. Almost obsession.

For those who have managed to miss it, here is the back story (you can find all previous posts by selecting the From Russia With Love category):

Alexander Litvinenko was a new British subject who defecting from Russia. He was ex-KGB. He was a good friend and defender of another Russian defector, millionaire businessman Boris Berezovsky, who is a very vocal critic of President Vladimir Putin. He was also, it should be noted, a friend and colleague of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya who was interestingly enough, also critical of Putin and also murdered as she was investigating atrocities in Chechnya committed by Putin's FSB. Litvinenko himself had written a book titled Blowing Up Russia: Terror from Within in which he claimed that the FSB had been responsible for the 1999 apartment building bombings that killed 300 people.

Anyway, Litvinenko turned defector and got his family out of Russia and into London. Then, one day, he was poisoned with a substance so mysterious that doctors were hard pressed to identify it and were only able to do so after it was far too late. It turns out that Litvinenko was poisoned with the equivalent of $10 million of Polonium-210, an artificially synthesized radioactive isotope. At the time of his death, he was investigating Politkovskaya's murder.

I know, I know. It keeps getting curiouser and curiouser.

The British investigation came to some conclusions about the likely suspects, and arrest warrants were issued for three Russian Ex-KGB agents, Andrei Lugovoi among them. Of course, Putin's Russia has denied all British requests to extradite these fellows.

Now it seems that Britain may expel Russian diplomats in protest.

And, you might be interested in the misfortunes of these unlucky fellows who were brave enough to speak to Dateline about the Litvinenko poisoning, but not able to dodge the ugly ends waiting for them.

And, if you are as geeky as me, you'll love this article by Charles Krauthammer in which the case is made pretty damning - if you are Putin, that is.

h/t: Ace


posted by Phoenix | 11:00 AM | 1 comments


Cartoon courtesy of Cox & Forkum, of course.

You may have missed it, what with the practical MSM blackout on the topic (the MSM just sort of ignores the news they don't like these days), but there has been a bit of a development in the case of those Marines accused of killing Iraqi civilians in Haditha.

You may recall the case as these are the Marines that John Murtha ((D)ickhead - Pennsylvania) rushed to judgement on their guilt. These are the marines whom Murtha didn't just accuse, but convicted. He said that they had, "killed innocent civilians in cold blood." He was noisy, boisterous, and made a big splash slandering these Marines all over the MSM.

But now it seems, much as we suspected, that it wasn't exactly as Murtha would have you believe.A Marine investigator is now recommending dropping the charges. In fact, in his report, Lt. Col. Paul Ware claims that the murder theory posited was based on conflicting and contradictory reports from Iraqis. Here is the money quote:
"To believe the government version of facts is to disregard clear and convincing evidence to the contrary, and sets a dangerous precedent that, in my opinion, may encourage others to bear false witness against Marines as a tactic to erode public support of the Marine Corps and mission in Iraq," Ware wrote.
So there you go. Of course, this isn't dead until the commanding general makes the final decision, but any day you can defend a Marine against spurious charges, you should.


posted by Phoenix | 10:22 AM | 0 comments

Wednesday, July 11, 2007
The Summer doldrums have set in painfully. Work is more than slow, it is almost comatose. My real job these days is keeping my eyes open and staying awake. Things at home are busy what with website design for the family company and maintaining a household and caring for husband and baby, not to mention trying to meet my workout goals.

In point of fact, my whole career is in the doldrums. When I originally took this job it was a stop-gap until I found something better. I've been here four years now. It is a very small company and opportunities for advancement are scarce. Don't get me wrong, I am appreciative of the job and what I've learned here. I am. It is just that I'm bored. Very very very bored.

I used to be a mover and a shaker. I used to be a go-getter and a valuable and appreciated member of a well-organized, highly productive team. Now? Now I blog to keep my brain active and look forward to my rare projects - like planning and organizing the company Christmas trip. I have practically let me CCA lapse out of disuse and because keeping up with my CEU's was eating up all of my vacation time. I have toyed with the idea of going back to school to get my MBA, but it doesn't feel like the right time.

If my boss was around for more than 15 minutes each week I might talk to him about these things...but alas, he isn't. Let me stress again that I am appreciative of the job. He hired me when he didn't really have a need for me because he saw a potential in me. And, his one desire was for me to get licensed as quickly as possible. I did so. I was licensed within four months of my hire date, during a time which I was also planning my wedding and getting married. I'm no slacker. Never have been.

And that is why the inactivity, the boredom, the feeling that I'm not contributing drive me so nuts. I've been trying to tell myself that my real job is wife and mother, but I sort of expect me to do that and then some. I come from a long line of overachievers, you see.

On Monday, Prince Charming and I were discussing our future and the possibility of moving back to the farm and joining the family business. It has always been a dream of mine, but it is hard to imagine it coming true. The idea is wonderful but when you start looking at the details, it all starts to get fuzzy.

We'd have to sell the new house and buy or build a new one. That's not a big deal. There is plenty of land on the farm. Heck, we could take our pick of abandoned homesites, bulldoze them, and rebuild. And, we could probably build a much better house than the one we have because of the disparity in the markets. Let's put it this way, we recently sold my grandmother's home (in the town by the farm). She owned a 6-bedroom, 3 or 4.5-bath, full basement, 2-kitchen brick home (with a walkout) for ~$160K. The house we built four years ago, which was worth more before we even moved in, would likely sell now for $220K or $240K. And don't even get me started on what we would save in property taxes. Currently, we pay over $5K. I suspect that out there it would be less than half that.

My husband would probably work on the farm. He has lots and lots of experience in the business, more so even than do I, and it is his single joy to drive a tractor or combine all day long. I'd have to work someplace else, I imagine. If the business keeps growing, maybe I could manage the office, but that would not be guaranteed. I could always find some sort of job somewhere. For one thing, the name helps. For another, as I've said before, I'm no slacker. I am extremely capable. In my daydreams, I imagine working 3 or 4 days a week on the farm and being a stay-at-home mom on day 5-7. (Life on the farm is more or less a 7-day work week).

Who knows, maybe I could eventually become a local judge or something (believe it or not, no law degree required, you merely have to take and pass a course).

Living in the country would be wonderful. I've always been more of a country girl than a city girl. I enjoy the wide open spaces and the lack of neighbors, having plenty of room to do whatever I want. Of course, traveling 4 hours to get to the mall would suck, but I already do a significant amount of my shopping online, so what's the difference? Prince Charming would chafe at the lack of bars and restaurants, but he rarely goes to the bar now, so he probably wouldn't miss it too much (and you only have to drive 15 minutes over the stateline to buy liquor anyway). For excellent restaurants, well I guess he'll have to take me to Texas for the weekend or something, won't he?

The one thing we agree on is that we want to be done having babies before we go, if we go. We would have health insurance there, of course, but it is unlikely to be as good as what we have now. And, considering any future children probably means another c-section, this is better done in Madison (with my wonderful doctor) and on the current insurance.

There's another aspect of this too: Income. We are very comfortable right now, but would likely take a hit if we moved west. True, things are cheaper there in general and we'd save a bundle on property taxes and things like that, but it would still be an adjustment.

I'd see less of my family too, I think. So would Prince Charming, for that matter. But, if the family business is to continue, it needs blood. That's the tricky part. I don't live close enough to keep one foot in both boats.

It would be wonderful to raise our children on the farm, around nature, learning about careful stewardship and plants and animals. But, the schools aren't as good there. It is a tradeoff.

I don't have a solution. I'm just spitballing at this point, trying to fill my dull boring stuck in the doldrums day.

There is another upside - I'd be much closer to Christina...

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posted by Phoenix | 2:12 PM | 3 comments

Must Read
The Crack Young Staff of The Hatemonger's Quarterly puts their collective finger firmly on something that has irked me for some time.

Go check it out.
posted by Phoenix | 11:47 AM | 0 comments

There are few things more wonderful than being a mother. When Bunny gives me an unsolicited hug or attempts to wake me from a nap with a kiss, I get all gooey inside. She is a sweet child, with perhaps a serious independent streak. We have been working on potty training, of course. We are also learning about the bigger world around us.

Just the other day, for example, the young girl (okay, she's 17) next door brought over their new puppy. She was the size of a guinea pig. I think it was a bit of a surprise to Bunny Boop to hear "puppy" and "doggie" used to describe her because these were the same words that we used to describe SpySistah's chocolate lab, who is significantly larger. I showed her a tiny little toad, about the size of a nickel, that I found in the driveway. She wasn't enthused.

These days, she always wants to be outside. The only real tantrums she's thrown have been in response to being told that No, she's not going outside. She absolutely loves to be in the water and loves to play with the hose and pretend to water the flowers. Adorable.

We have a trip to the zoo planned for the end of the month. I expect that will really open her eyes.

Her vocabulary is growing too, albeit slowly. She sort of says "I love you", but it isn't very clear and she only says it when I say it first. She did say "baby" yesterday and that was very clear. Everything is "up", even if what she really means is down. She has recently started the "mama, mama, mama, mama" routine and still knows "daddy." She understands much more than she is able to vocalize though. She knows what "no" means. She knows what breakfast is. She understands hug, kiss, bedtime, bath, outside, puppy, car, sandals, milk, cheese, hat, blanket, baby, bear, duck, eat. She can show you her hand, foot, leg, hair, ear, nose, mouth, tongue, eyes when you ask. (We are still learning butt and arm).

She recognizes her lunch box, of all things! I pack her lunch each night after supper and put it in the fridge for the next morning. (It is a simple tupperware sandwich keeper that I fill with a half sandwich, fruit/veggies, animal crackers, etc). This morning she saw me take it out of the fridge and got all excited...until I put it in her bag. Then she acted like "where's the food then?" So we had oatmeal and all was forgiven.

She loves to brush her teeth, most days. She is less fond of having her hair brushed. She loves Spongebob; her favorite character is Squidward.

We are going to keep working on potty training and begin learning about putting our toys away too. She is absolutely the sparkle in my life, the treasure in my every day.


posted by Phoenix | 11:16 AM | 0 comments

Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Pride and Prejudice, The VV Movie Review
So, last night I watched the remake - the Keira Knightly version - of Pride and Prejudice. We have Charter cable and with that digital service comes the ability to watch movies from the movie channels "on Demand." It is really pretty handy.

Last night, I chose to watch this remake. What the hell, I had time to kill between working out and falling asleep.

The whole thing struck me as rather tepid, to be honest. They were in such a rush to cram the entire story into 2 hours that the depth of emotion suffered. Let's face it, the title is "Pride and Prejudice" not "Sort of Proud and Non-commital Bias."

The BBC version starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth (sigh...) remains the standard. This 6-hour version is by far superior because the depth of Elizabeth's pride and her prejudice and Mr. Darcy's pride and prejudice, are allowed to fully develop. This new version was so rushed that one would think Elizabeth disliked Darcy because he doesn't dance and thinks her only fair-looking. The whole debacle involving Wickham is rushed to the point that he doesn't even seem too much of a cad. And the ending just sucked. It was more romanatic, in a way, than the BBC version, but only as it is displayed in today's society. It was a bit of a stretch. This movie was sort of the crib notes version, if you will. The relationships are not developed, the emotions are not allowed to ripen, the complications do not seem very complicated...Jane Austen is rolling in her grave.

To be honest, I actually preferred the actress who played Jane in the new version to the BBC version. She was prettier and portrayed the ethereal serenity perfectly. Keira Knightly, however, was too pretty to be Elizabeth. She wasn't portrayed as bookish, which is what Elizabeth really was.

It was a cartoon version, without the great color, lunchbox tie-in, and no sudden un-masking of the villain. Don't bother yourself.
posted by Phoenix | 10:27 AM | 0 comments

Jury Duty No-Nos
Just by happenstance this morning, I have discovered two stories about jury duty and how to get yourself in trouble.

The first story comes to us via Michelle Malkin, who points out the sordid tale of a Muslim woman juror who was listening to her MP3 player under her hijab instead of, you know, the testimony before her.

Clearly, a model citizen...

Then I come across this story of a guy who so desperately wants to avoid jury duty that he claims to be homophobic, racist, and a compulsive liar.


“In 32 years of service in courtrooms, as a prosecutor, as a defense attorney and now as a judge, I have quite frankly never confronted such a brazen situation of an individual attempting to avoid juror service,” Barnstable Superior Court Judge Gary Nickerson told Daniel Ellis, according to a preliminary court transcript of the exchange.


“I have the distinct impression that you’re intentionally trying to avoid jury service,” Nickerson said.

“That’s true,” Ellis answered.

Nickerson ordered Ellis taken into custody. He was released later Monday morning.

Ellis could face perjury and other charges.

Seriously? Seriously? Come on people! Take your civic duty seriously and do the right thing. I can't believe some people...


posted by Phoenix | 10:02 AM | 0 comments

Harry Potterpalooza
You would have to be dead to not realize that this is a big month for potterheads.

The fifth movie, Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix, arrives in theaters tomorrow. I, of course, will not get to see it until Saturday or Sunday, but believe me: I will see it as soon as possible.

Then, next week - Friday at midnight to be precise - the seventh and final installment in the books will go on sale at booksellers nationwide. This book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, is likely the most anticipated work of literature in a very long time. At long last we will know whether He Who Must Not Be Named dies painfully as he deserves and whether or not The Boy Who Lived will continue to do so.

Both CalTechGirl and SarahK have asked for predictions on the end result of the books. I will do the same. Feel free to leave your predictions in the comments. In the meantime, I'm going to explore what I see as unfinished business/predictions below.

The one that stands out in my mind first is the debt of honor that Peter Pettigrew/Scabbers the Rat owes to Harry for Harry's interceding on his behalf and preventing his quite deserved death. It has long been foreshadowed that Peter would have to pay the piper on this one and I look forward to seeing this resolved.

Next, I think we can expect at least one more important prophecy/vision from Trelawny. She had the big important prophecy that started all of this, of course, and the one where she foresaw Voldemort's return via the return of his servant, Pettigrew. I think this final vision is likely to involve Snape, for better or worse.

Malfoy. Such a bad boy. I see two possible outcomes for Draco. First, that Draco shall redeem himself and begin working for the Order, through some sort of revelation at his treatment at the hands of Voldemort (for although he completed his mission, he did not personally kill Dumbledore, and this may be seen as weakness by Voldemort who was using the boy in the first place, and lest we all forget, there is no hiding the truth from Voldemort who is a skilled legilimens). This could be the Regulus Black symmetry/introduction we've been seeking (more on this below). The other possibility is that Harry will have to kill Draco to get to Voldemort, which is also an intriguing idea. However, J.K. Rowling likes to emphasize that bit about the choices we make, so I'm betting on some variation of the first scenario as Draco chooses the right path.

Regulus Black. Is R.A.B Regulus Black? Did he destroy the horcrux in the locket and is he possibly a hidden allie for Harry? Is it possible that Harry will be able to communicate with him via Sirius and/or the mirror? That mirror has never come back into the storyline, a sure sign that it could.

Ron and Hermione will finally be together, of this I am certain. What I am not certain about, however, is whether Ron will survive the book. Somehow, I don't see Hermione dying. I expect she will end up teaching at Hogwarts when it reopens, but whether or not Ron is by her side remains to be seen.

Percy. I expect the story of Percy to be concluded in some way, though I'll be darned if I know how. I sort of expect him to fall victim to the Imperius curse, but we'll have to see.

Snape. Rowling has toyed with us for so long, equivocating about the true character of Snape. Is he good or is he bad? I've wrestled with this for some time and still can't come to any conclusions. On the one hand, Dumbledore has admitted that he is fallible, but it seems inconceivable that Snape would be able to deceive Dumbledore for 16 years. I mean, Dumbledore is the only person that Voldemort has ever really feared. I was a most powerful wizard. It almost beggars belief that Snape could fool him for so long. We can't really know why Dumbledore trusted Snape so completely, or why if that trust was so complete he waited so long to give him the DADA post. I'm hoping that those questions are answered in this book.

Of course, it would not be surprising to discover that Snape is evil. Rowling has never encouraged us to like the guy, but he has done his part to save Harry a number of times. He is a highly skilled wizard, we know this, and he has skills of occlumency and legilimency which would aid him in keeping his secrets. Moreover, he is described as being batlike and like a vampire, surely these are not positive images. He clearly harbors grudges against Harry's parents and Harry himself as a surrogate.

I half suspect to discover - at the very end of the book of course - that Snape killed Dumbledore at Dumbledore's instruction. Dumbledore did not want Malfoy, who he saw as an innocent child much like Harry, to commit murder at the behest of someone else. I think that Snape was trapped between Dumbledore and the Unbreakable Oath he made to Narcissa Malfoy. Snape told Dumbledore about the oath and they agreed that, should push come to shove, Snape would kill Dumbledore himself and return to Voldemort's side, but largely to insure Draco's safety.

Of course, I could be completely wrong.

But, I have no question about it, Harry lives. If Harry dies, it means that Voldemort won and I don't think that is the end message for these books. We'll know soon, won't we?


posted by Phoenix | 9:17 AM | 0 comments

Monday, July 09, 2007
Reporting Atrocities the MSM Ignores
Today seems like a good day to shed the light of perspective on Iraq and al Qaeda.

All too often, the MSM and our superior friends in the EU, United Nations, etc. pick on the US as a greater evil than anything al Qaeda has ever accomplished. The absurdity of that premise is larger than an elephant in a VW bug, but...whatever. My point is, that the MSM, for all their holier-than-thou, better-than-thou, we-know-better-and-we-won't-hesitate-to-remind-you reporting, more often than not, are lazy bastards who are "reporting" from rumours that they glean from the cozy comforts of their Green Zone hotels. They aren't out there in the sand, the dust, where the bullets are flying. They sure as hell ain't out there smelling the decomposing corpses.

But, one reporter is. His name is Michael Yon. He isn't affiliated with any MSM outlet. In fact, he isn't even paid. He is there in the hot zone on his own nickel doing the reporting that AP/CBS/NBC/ABC/Reuters/Fox, et al won't do.

He is constantly reporting the stories that you won't hear anywhere else. The man is still embedded. Still. He's made several "deployments" and is currently in harm's way. In fact, recently he had exclusives on two major stories.

The first is here. It is the very sad tale of some suspected al Qaeda atrocities that don't get any play by the MSM. In fact, those bastards can't be bothered to get off their lazy asses and follow their noses to the stench. You need to read it and read it all. You must, if only to begin to understand the enemy.

The second story is far far worse. I will excerpt it below, because I want to highlight the atrocity, but I urge you to go read the whole thing.

Speaking through an American interpreter, Lieutenant David Wallach who is a
native Arabic speaker, the Iraqi official related how al Qaeda united these gangs who then became absorbed into “al Qaeda.” They recruited boys born during the years 1991, 92 and 93 who were each given weapons, including pistols, a bicycle and a phone (with phone cards paid) and a salary of $100 per month, all courtesy of al Qaeda. These boys were used for kidnapping, torturing and murdering people.

At first, he said, they would only target Shia, but over time the new al Qaeda directed attacks against Sunni, and then anyone who thought differently. The official reported that on a couple of occasions in Baqubah, al Qaeda invited to lunch families they wanted to convert to their way of thinking. In each instance, the family had a boy, he said, who was about 11 years old. As LT David Wallach interpreted the man’s words, I saw Wallach go blank and silent. He stopped interpreting for a moment. I asked Wallach, “What did he say?” Wallach said that at these luncheons, the families were sat down to eat. And then their boy was brought in with his mouth stuffed. The boy had been baked. Al Qaeda served the boy to his family.

Go read the whole heart-breaking thing. Michael Yon, if there is any justice in this world, you will be amply rewarding for doing this very important work.


posted by Phoenix | 10:56 AM | 0 comments

Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Happy Independence Day!

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
What the signers of this document did was an act of courage. And, it behooves us to remember, especially today, what courageous men ought be willing to do to defend freedom.
posted by Phoenix | 8:59 AM | 0 comments

Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Citizenship Test
Take this MSNBC quiz to see if you could pass the Citizenship Test required of people wishing to become citizens of the United States.

Pretty easy. I got a 90%.
posted by Phoenix | 11:40 AM | 0 comments

Libby's Sentence Commuted
You'd have to be living under a rock not to have heard that President Bush used his Presidential powers to commute Scooter Libby's 30-month prison sentence.

I've read in a few places where people are throwing around the "p" word, but this was no pardon. The president didn't excuse what Libby may or may not have done, he merely signalled that he felt that the sentence was excessive. He left the fine and the supervised release portions of the sentence intact.

And, considering the hand-slap that Sandy Berger got for stealing and destroying national documents of imperative importance, this still seems excessive, but at least it comes closer to being reasonable. The guy who actually let the cat out of the bag on Valerie Plame got off scot-free, so it seems ridiculous for Libby to go to jail.

I appreciate what the President did today. I think it was the right thing. He certainly had it in his power to do more, but this action says he respects the process and the verdict of the jury, but feels the punishment was excessive.

Of course, Democrats are still going to rip the President on charges of cronyism and abuse of power, but their grand poo-bah basically sold pardons like it was a White House yard sale and "everything must go", so they don't have a whole lot of credibility on this one in my book.


posted by Phoenix | 9:53 AM | 0 comments

Live Free or Die Hard - A Movie Review
I saw Live Free or Die Hard over the weekend and thought I would share with you my opinions.

First off, you should know that I was predisposed to like this movie. I am a huge fan of Bruce Willis - always have been. But, I'm more inclined to like the Bruce Willis fractured hero characters than the other more bizarre work he's done. I like him in comedies, but I'm just not drawn to him in roles like The Sixth Sense.

You should also know that Die Hard is one of my all-time favorite movies. I like the clever comebacks and the hilarious oddities of that film because they strike a chord with me. For example, the fact that the limo driver is blissfully unaware of what's going on while he's chatting up the ladies on the phone seems true to life to me. In a lesser movie, this guy would be the drafted sidekick (coughSteven Segalcough). Another thing that I love about Die Hard is the fact that John McClane is without shoes for a while. Again, this is the sort of thing that happens to me. Or, when he's trying to save all of these people by alerting the police and he is unable to break the window. I can totally see that as being a real problem. And that is why I like this movie. Somewhere between the broken glass, bloody bare feet, the window, the Yippe-ki-yay and the Ho-Ho-Ho, movie magic happens.

Now, having said all of that, Live Free or Die Hard has quite a lot to live up to. While I was predisposed to like it (Because Bruce Willis is sexy), I wasn't predisposed to LOVE IT. Afterall, Die Hard 2 & 3 were just okay. But, I did in fact LOVE this movie.

It was smart. Again, John McClane is our tortured and fractured hero. His relationship with his daughter is very strained because get this - he's a protective father. Go figure! And, I appreciated the fact that McClane is not magically gifted with some knowledge of technology all of a sudden. He is every bit as ignorant of these things as we expect him to be. John McClane is a man of action, not necessarily a man of information. The information part comes from the asthmatic hacker geek who has become unwittingly involved in all of this. McClane saves his life a number of times and the kid is appropriately awed. He calls McClane a hero, but John quickly rebuts this accolade, saying he was only doing what had to be done. The hacker says what the audience/fan has always felt: that's what makes you The Guy.

The dialogue is great, with several quotable McClane-isms and the plot is adequate to keep the audience involved. (My husband fell asleep, but he does this with every movie).

Honestly, I only have one complaint with the whole film and that is that they knew the movie was going to be a hit, so they loaded up on extreme stunts and CGI effects that quite honestly are a bit over the top and which actually do a disservice to the film and the original.

As I said, I enjoy the things like the missing shoes and the window that wouldn't break. In this film, John McClane uses a car to take out a helicopter in what is surely the most unrealistic moment of the film. It is just over the top. We expect John McClane to bleed because he is like us, but giving him almost super powers is hard to swallow.

I know why they did it. I just wish they had kept it simple. But, I highly recommend it. I enjoyed every moment of it.
posted by Phoenix | 9:27 AM | 0 comments

A Brand New Day
This morning dawned early, and yet, in such a way that was vastly improved over yesterday. In fact, I have a whole new outlook. No more is the first-class bitch who possessed my body yesterday. Today I am reasonable, happy, and at ease. Pleasedtameetcha.

All weekend long, you see, Bunny Boop was irritable. Irritable and feverish. Originally I suspected that this was a delayed and prolonged reaction to the DTaP booster she got at the doctor's office on Thursday. She wasn't eating a whole lot and the fever seemed to come and go. But, while she was irritable, she wasn't lazy or lethargic. Yesterday, however, she woke up with what I suspected were the beginnings of a rash. Later in the day this was confirmed and we high-tailed it to the doctor's office again.

Perhaps I'm a freak-out sort of mother, or perhaps I was just acting with an excess of caution. It really doesn't matter. As I have said before and will likely say again and again and again, I've never done this before. For me, parenthood and motherhood are like climbing onto a seagoing vessel in search of the edge of the Earth. Every day is an adventure that scares the living crap out of you. Indiana Jones has nothin' on me, poison darts not withstanding.

Anyway, the pediatrician took one look at Bunny Boop, listened to her lungs and looked in her ears and mouth and made her proclamation: Roseola. Which apparently translates directly to "pink rash."

It seems that Roseola is an incredibly common virus that almost all children get by the time they are 2 years old. Never heard of it? Neither had I. But, every parent I've mentioned it to has said, "Oh yeah..." when I brought it up, so it really must be exceptionally common.

Roseola begins with a 3-day fever that can come and go but that is easily controlled with Tylenol or Ibuprofen. Just as the fever is exiting, this blooming pink rash (not itchy) makes an appearance. The rash is usually on the back and belly, around the neck, and the cheeks. It is also prevalent on the backs of the ears (exactly where you don't look). The good news is, by the time the rash shows up, you are almost in the clear.

And this of course is when we finally saw the doctor. I am happy to say that the diagnosis appears to be correct because as of this morning, the fever is no more, the rash is beginning to fade, and her appetite has returned. More importantly, her winsome and charming disposition of smiles and giggles has returned, so I'm no longer gnashing my teeth at the sounds of whining or nursing a migraine.

Are there any other very common bugs that almost all children get that I should be aware of? There's no telling. We'll leave those adventures for another episode, shall we?


posted by Phoenix | 8:53 AM | 0 comments


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