Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Random pet peeve

Thankfully, I've never had to have too many stitches in my poor old body.

But of the few I've had, 90% of them have been caused by those stoopid boxes that say "open here" surrounded by a few dots.

You can't "open here" without using a sharp instrument, and I can't use a sharp instrument without at least nicking myself.

Stitches are running almost $50 a piece at the local emergency clinic, didja know that?


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Lead figure in phone jam to advise GOP contenders

From Raw Story:
A major figure in the Election Day phone-jamming scandal that embarrassed and nearly bankrupted the New Hampshire GOP is out of prison and back in the political game.

Charles McGee, the former executive director of the state Republican Party, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and served seven months for his part in the scheme to have a telemarketer tie up Democratic and union phone lines in 2002.

He's back at his old job with a Republican political marketing firm, Spectrum Monthly & Printing Inc., and will be helping out at the firm's "GOP campaign school" for candidates.
I'm pleasantly surprised to learn the GOP supports hiring ex-cons, and I'm reminded of Brownie's disaster management consulting venture.

Next up: "Jack Abramoff's Lobbyist School"? "Kenny-Boy Lay's Business Management School"?

Maybe a future "Donald Rumsfeld School of Military Strategery and Planning?"

The possibilities are truly endless.


Monday, May 29, 2006

Give NTodd some lovin'

....before he starts holding his breath until he turns blue.
At West Point, Bush Draws Parallels With Truman

Why do right-wingers continually use Democratic presidents to make favorable comparisons? Could it be because they can't find a positive comparison with Republicans?

At first blush, this comparison is pretty nauseating, but I suppose he's right - both Truman and Bush suffered lowly poll numbers and both were failed businessmen.

The results to the country and the world from their policies? Difference between night and day.

Greeted with flowers

The Prime Minister of Kosova, Mr. Agim Ceku, welcomes General Wesley Clark

I can't think of a better way to commemorate Memorial Day than to remember the times conflicts were handled correctly.

Clark - "This was an example of how we CAN do it right: diplomacy first, strong leadership, working with others, and using force only as a last resort. We had a plan for what to do after the operation before we began air strikes.

During the Kosovo War, we were fortunate not to lose a single American soldier in combat -- but in most military operations we aren't so lucky. We owe the men and women of our armed forces our deepest gratitude for their willingness to serve in harm's way, whether it's protecting Americans during natural disasters here at home or defending our country and defending freedom abroad."

Memorial Day

My mother as a WAC Aviation Cadet, 1943 - Dad at his retirement from the Army, 1955.

I believe this makes me a genuine double Army brat.

Gold Star Mom sums up the usual observances -
On Memorial Day, we raise our flags; we want to show our patriotism. We have a holiday from work and we have BBQ's with our friends and families. For some, it is a day to save some money at the mall- 15% off- Memorial Day sale! When we celebrate those events, we ignore the origins of Memorial Day.
Never in this household.

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance - for those who have been lost and a day of mourning the failure of peaceful resolutions.


Sunday, May 28, 2006

Connecting some tragic dots

The world has gone mad.

1 in 10 U.S. Iraq veterans suffers stress disorder

Haditha Massacre: KR Reporter, Last August, Noted Worries There That U.S. Marines Might 'Crack'

Sending mentally ill soldiers back to Iraq

Tony Blair cools off to global warming

What's with Tony Blair? Why does he hate the Labour Party? The fix is in somewhere. Maybe the NSA picked up something nasty on Tony?

Blair Bowed to U.S. Pressure in Speech, Paper Says
According to the Sunday Telegraph, Blair made "significant" last-minute changes to his major foreign policy address and that "objections by President George W. Bush's inner circle played a key role in the alterations."
Just a few months ago (January, 2006) -
Blair: Global warming is advancing
The threat posed by climate change may be greater than previously thought, and global warming is advancing at an unsustainable rate, Prime Minister Tony Blair said in a report published Monday.
And here's Tony in January, 2005 -
Blair Urges Action Against Global Warming

The world's most powerful nations must act now to curb global warming, British Prime Minister Tony Blair told world leaders yesterday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Blair, who became president of the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations this month and will take the helm of the European Union in July, said he plans to use his two new posts to press for action on climate change and on alleviating poverty and political unrest in Africa.
September, 2004 -
UK's Tony Blair Advocates Urgent Action to Avert Global Warming

Immediate action is needed to tackle global warming, "the world's greatest environmental challenge," Prime Minister Tony Blair said Tuesday night. Blair called it a challenge "so far-reaching in its impact and irreversible in its destructive power, that it alters radically human existence."
September, 2002 -
Blair issues global warming challenge

Tony Blair is urging world leaders to do much more to tackle global warming.

The UK prime minister told an audience in Mozambique that the world needed to go beyond the Kyoto agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Something smells here, just like anything and anyone the Bush administration touches.


Saturday, May 27, 2006

Upside down gardening watch

Week two; it ain't dead yet.

As you can see below, the tomato plant is 'turning it's face to the sun" -

Or as I prefer - making a turn to the left.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Friday Critter Blogging

Couch potatoes

All your couch are belong to us.

See that lump under the blanket between the two dogs? That's the third Chihuahua.

Pippin le Grandpuppy


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Moment of remembrance hasn't caught on
A tiny White House commission has spent the past five years and $1.5 million trying to bring a new American tradition to Memorial Day's barbecues, parades and sales: A moment of remembrance, a sigh, perhaps a prayer. Just a 30-second pause.

The results, so far, are mixed.

The White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance does have a theme song donated by Charles Strouse, creator of the musical "Annie." There's a logo, pens and coasters, prewritten news articles and television spots. There have been events, like a sand-sculpture display inspired by D-Day.

And a few towns, businesses and organizations have paused silently at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day.

In general, though, the commission's hyper-energetic executive director, Carmella LaSpada, has been somewhat frustrated by the lack of interest.

"We're a little disappointed," she said. "What has been the problem is that we haven't gotten the support that we would like to have from the media."

Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., a longtime friend of LaSpada's who sponsored the legislation to create the commission, said he's still committed to its mission, but he laughs when he thinks about the logistics of actually pulling it off.

"You try and quiet down a country of 300 million," he said. "We're a busy people in a busy nation in a busy world. I think it is entirely appropriate to designate a special time to slow down and stop and think for a moment about the people who sacrificed to make this a great country."

LaSpada has been repeatedly criticized in annual federal financial audits for blurring the lines between her tiny federal agency and No Greater Love, a nonprofit agency LaSpada founded 30 years ago, which operates right next door and has a similar mission.

In July, 2005, an auditor with the Government Accounting Office, the investigatory arm of Congress, wrote that "the distinction between the two organizations could be misperceived." A new financial audit is currently under way, said a GAO spokesman.

LaSpada said she's learning to separate the two.

"Personally, I'd rather play down No Greater Love because it looks like I'm still wearing two hats," she said. "I'm no longer affiliated with any No Greater Love. When you are director of an independent government agency you can't be affiliated with any other group."

As executive director of the commission and White House liaison, LaSpada receives about $165,000 in salary and benefits, according to federal reports. As executive director at No Greater Love, she was paid $13,840 in 2001, the last year she was listed as running that organization, according to the non-profit's tax forms.

LaSpada said that in addition to a lack of cooperation from the media, she's been stymied because her commission was supposed to be loaned six employees — one each from the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Veterans Affairs, and
Department of Education. But so far she's only had one Navy staffer assigned on a six-month basis.

She said her staff consists of an executive assistant who is, himself, donated to the commission by a source she would not name. She said No Greater Love also provides some volunteer assistance. The commission's office space is donated by several unions.

Carson Ross, a former Missouri state representative who was appointed as a charter commission member by President Bush, said he quit after learning in conference call meetings that his role was fundraising. The annual $250,000 budget didn't cover much more than staff, he said.

"I think it's a great idea that on Memorial Day, instead of just worrying about barbecues, that everyone should pause and pay tribute to people in the military, but I think that if this was something Congress and the Executive Office wanted then they should fund the darned thing," he said.

The Act was signed into law by President Clinton, and launched under President Bush.

Ross said that since he left, in 2002, he hasn't heard another thing about a National Moment of Remembrance.

"With all the things going on in the world, it just doesn't register very high," he said. "And if we can't make it work, if we can't get it off the ground, let's not spend any more money or time on it. Let's put those resources into something worthwhile."

But LaSpada said she's not even considering giving up.

"I'll give you my word," she said, "before I leave here, this moment is going to be a new American tradition. I'll do whatever it takes to make this happen."
Carmella, honey - if you can't start a new national tradition with five years, $1.5 million taxpayer dollars, a kewl song, logo, pens, coasters, prewritten news articles, television spots, and a D-Day sand-sculpture display...don't you think it's time to throw in the towel?

And those employees from the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Veterans Affairs - they're sorta busy.

As more and more people in this country are affected by our useless wars, they find their own way of remembrance.



And one more because (as always) I heart Mike Luckovich)


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Jeb Bush Approached About Running NFL
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said he was privately approached about his interest in becoming the NFL's next commissioner.

Bush said Tuesday the issue was discussed at a recent meeting with Patrick Rooney Sr., according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Rooney's brother is Dan Rooney, owner of Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers and co-chair of the search committee looking to replace the retiring Paul Tagliabue.

"I met with Mr. Rooney and I said, `I'm doing my job until I'm finished and then I'm going to consider other things,'" Bush told the newspaper.

Bush has said he will not run for president in 2008. His final term as governor ends in January, although he doesn't believe NFL officials will hold the position open until then.
EB! has indicated he will not run for the presidency in 2008, but he's bound to get pressure to do so. The NFL gig isn't such a bad idea; it isn't in great shape, but it would be easier than cleaning up his brother's mess.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

If your faith isn't strong enough to survive...

Lab Kat draws our attention to yet another person wetting themselves over an "assault on Christianity".

Is the faith of fundamentalists so weak it can't survive society? I started to write "modern society", but these ninnies have been bleating for thousands of years.

So, riffing off Lab Kat (forgive me, sweetie?) -
If your faith isn't strong enough to survive Madonna singing from a cross, maybe the problem lies with YOU and not Madonna.


Monday, May 22, 2006

Countdown to surgery

Did you see the movie Braveheart?

If so, you’ll remember the scene after a battle when the fierce old Scottish warrior is treated for his injuries. Treatment consisted of three steps:

1) Drinking copious amounts of uisge
2) Drinking even more uisge
3) Several strong men hold him down while a red-hot poker cauterizes the wound.

Did you know that ‘uisge’ – whiskey – has a revered place in Christianity?
It is generally agreed that Dalriadan Scottish monks brought distillation with them when they came to Caledonia to convert the Picts to Christianity in the fourth and fifth centuries. (link)
The next Jehovah’s Witness that comes to my door with a bottle of uisge won’t get a convert, but I’ll stop making fun of them.

I keep thinking about that cauterization scene, and particularly the bellow of agony from the wounded man, as I go tomorrow to have my lower tear ducts cauterized.

My opthamologist said nothing about uisge, but I hope he will apply some other form of anesthetic. If I'm a good girl, we will then schedule my phototherapeutic keratectomy.

Who knows when cauterization was first practiced as a means of treating wounds? It was just about the only method used until medieval times, and it seems likely cauterization has been practiced for thousands of years.

It amazes me that within the space of a few weeks time I will undergo not only the ancient procedure, but modern, sophisticated laser eye surgery.

There is value in the tried-and-true from the past, much to be learned from the present, and exciting miracles waiting for us in the future. I feel sorry for those who refuse to accept the benefits on either end of history.

"When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that you visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor. (Psalm 8:3-5)

It tolls for thee

Gonzales Says Prosecutions of Journalists Are Possible
The government has the legal authority to prosecute journalists for publishing classified information, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said yesterday.

"There are some statutes on the book which, if you read the language carefully, would seem to indicate that that is a possibility," Mr. Gonzales said on the ABC News program "This Week."
Got that?

Any journalists who might still be interested in actual investigative reporting - Gonzales has your number, he's listening, and he is itching to prosecute.


Sunday, May 21, 2006

First time for everything

I've never agreed with Richard Viguerie on anything - ever.

Still, it's nice to see him wakening a bit from his social conservative fantasy world.

I'm hearing exactly the same thing from most of my Republican cquaintances.
Bush's Base Betrayal

I've never seen conservatives so downright fed up as they are today. The current relationship between Washington Republicans and the nation's conservatives makes me think of a cheating husband whose wife catches him, and forgives him, time and time again. Then one day he comes home to discover that she has packed her bags and called a cab -- and a divorce lawyer.

As the philanderer learns: Hell hath no fury. . .


Saturday, May 20, 2006

Upside-down gardening

My decades-long quest to produce decent tomatoes has led me to this - a "Topsy Turvy".

Very nifty for small spaces. Should you try it, one bit of advice - don't water it until you hang it...it weighs a ton even without water.

Now, if I can just keep the daggone birds away from it...


Friday, May 19, 2006

Irritate a wingnut

Learn Spanish

Spanish Dictionary

Spanish Grammar Exercises

BBC Spanish
Rockin' at the resort

Remember when Limbaugh touted "Club G'itmo, the Muslim resort"?
"Club G'itmo, the Muslim resort," a "tropical paradise down there where Muslim extremists and terrorist wannabes can get together for rest and relaxation."
Perhaps Rush needs to go down there and give the inmates a pep talk...

From BBC:

Guantanamo inmates attack guards
Inmates at the US detention centre at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba have clashed with guards as they tried to prevent a fellow detainee from hanging himself.

Friday kitty blogging

Trouble on the prowl

A three-fer

Thought I'd check up on local nutjob Vernon Robinson, Republican opponent of Democrat Brad Miller (NC-13.

The People For the American Way recently lambasted Robinson for spreading "bigotry and scapegoating", an area where Robinson excels and aspires to equal or surpass Jesse Helms in the history of North Carolina wingnuttery.

Robinson's website (Google it yourself) takes a swipe at Muslims, gays, and immigrants in just one headline and two sentences -

News & Observer Story on the PFAW Fatwah
The Robinson radio ad says: "Brad Miller [the Democratic incumbent] supports gay marriage and sponsored a bill to let American homosexuals bring their foreign homosexual lovers to this country on a marriage visa. If Miller had his way, America would be nothing but one big fiesta for illegal aliens and homosexuals, but if you elect Vernon Robinson, that party's over."
All you gays with illegal alien brown-skinned lovers better start shaking in your boots.

Happy Friday

Ye olde back yard.


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Reality-based health care insurance

I keep forgetting to mention fredb's fabulous series of diaries at DKos on the health care system and reforming health care insurance.

Dr. Fred Bannister has done it all - from a small family practice to managing an HMO. He knows the 'system' inside and out, and has common sense, reality-based ideas for fixing it.

This is a plan even a Republican can love - if they had any sense whatsoever, they'd be lining up to sponsor the legislation.

Highlights of the plan:
1. Affordable, available health care insurance from birth to death.
2. Free health insurance for everyone under nineteen years of age
3. Everything funded by the insurance plan’s premiums—not the government budget.

All of this in a single payer, universal care context, with the promise of up to 50% lower cost than that of our current health care system.
You can go here to buy his book or visit the website.

If our health insurance hadn't just gone up a frickin' extra $107.47 per month (with accompanying higher deductibles and co-pays), I'd be buying a dozen books and send them to Congress.

Outlining the plan -

Part 1 - Retired M.D. & HMO administrator speaks out

Part 2 - Health Security America: Kicking the donkey

Part 3 - Health Security America: People-powered health care

Part 4 - Breaking the special interest hammerlock on health care

Part 5 - Health Security America: Howard Unbound

Part 6 - Cutting health insurance premiums by optimizing hospital use

Part 7 - Retired doctor: what patients can do to lower health insurance premiums


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Quick hits

I was just wondering.....

If our so-called health care system is supposed to be employment based, why aren't employers required by law to provide it?

Would right-wingers be happier with a 'guest worker' program and an earned citizenship program if it were recast as a "More Taxes Paid Into The System" program?

Why the sudden 'concern' on the Bush administration's part on securing the borders? Is it because it's looking more and more like Prime Indictment Season?

What kind of "support" is the National Guard supposed to provide the Border Patrol? Typing reports? Fixing their vehicles? Answering the phones? Sounds like jobs many American citizens would be more than happy to do.


Monday, May 15, 2006

Old fogeys at risk

I have a cell phone I use for emergencies, but like most folks my age and older we still have a land line for day-to-day telephone communication.

I know, we're behind the times. And it seems we better get with them, especially if we want to avoid being caught in any NSA trolling.

The Political Critic says -
So incensed was I that I contacted my phone company, Verizon Wireless, to see if they were also involved in this unlawful activity. They quickly told me that they were not involved. As it turns out, this NSA spy program only pertains to land based phone lines. Cell phone calls are not being included in this database. That means that all the calls you make on your cell are not traced....well, at least not this way.

So not only is the government conducting another unlawful spy programs, they are also going about it in the completely wrong manner. The government claims that these phone records are being obtained to protect the nation against terrorists. However, terrorists are usually young people. Most young people use cell phones exclusively.
As do most...make that ALL...criminals and terrorists worth the name.

One can only wonder why we haven't been totally obliterated yet.

Ripping off the blinkers

Something tells me the Bush-enablers in the media may have a bone or two to pick with their masters.

Federal Source to ABC News: We Know Who You're Calling
A senior federal law enforcement official tells ABC News the government is tracking the phone numbers we call in an effort to root out confidential sources.

"It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick," the source told us in an in-person conversation.

ABC News does not know how the government determined who we are calling, or whether our phone records were provided to the government as part of the recently-disclosed NSA collection of domestic phone calls.

Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation.


Sunday, May 14, 2006

What a Mother's Day

Presents galore!

1) Hubby fixed breakfast. Well - he always fixes breakfast on weekends, but this time he washed the dishes, too.

2) Came home from church, walked through the door, and -

Yep - there was my grandpuppy!

Held by my kid!

She's working at the college this summer, so we've missed having her home. She woke up at o-dark-thirty to make the nearly three-hour drive to surprise me.

Oh, and -

3) She didn't bring home a huge bag of dirty laundry!

A great present, indeed - but the winner is still Mother's Day 1986. On that day, I looked up from reading the newspaper - and there was my 10-month-old baby, taking her first steps.

She was grinning from ear-to-ear and bubbling with little toddler-chuckles, as if it was all a huge joke. I gathered her up in my arms and told her not to grow up too fast.

She'll be twenty-one this year. Amazing how fast the time passes when you're a momma.

Mother's Day Special

Ain't nothing like sleeping in your mamma's arms

Speaking for mothers world-wide - I want my $134,121 per year.



Friday, May 12, 2006

Do it yourself

I know we're all patriotic Americans whose only desire is to do our duty.

President Bush is in trouble, and needs our help.

Not only are his favorablity ratings in the toilet and headed into the sewer system, but he seems to have a little constitutional problem.

As Christy at Firedoglake puts it so eloquently:
If President Bush truly believes that he’s saving us all from terrorists by collecting phone and e-mail data on millions of Americans, daily, and that such collection is lawful and saves lives and prevents future attacks and all the other things that he and his Administration surrogates have said about it…

…why not follow the laws and get a warrant?
And why not, indeed?

Well, it's simple, folks. There are millions and millions of suspected terrorists hiding behind every tree in America, and the good folks in law enforcement just can't get around to us all....especially with all that useless information NSA is gathering.

Now is the time to step up and help out your country and your president!

Just click here (PDF), and you can print out your very own search warrant.

Print it out, and fill in your name, address, and so forth. Take it to the nearest magistrate judge for his/her signature, then mail it to:

George Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

If you prefer to speed things up, you could mail it to:

Republican National Committee
310 First Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003

No thanks needed....just doing my patriotic duty!

This just in

My grand-puppy's ears are "up" and he's learning to use a laptop.

It's all our fault

If you don't like having your telephone records in the NSA database, you only have yourself to blame.

You didn't read the fine print when you signed up.
One government lawyer who has participated in negotiations with telecommunications providers said the Bush administration has argued that a company can turn over its entire database of customer records -- and even the stored content of calls and e-mails -- because customers "have consented to that" when they establish accounts. The fine print of many telephone and Internet service contracts includes catchall provisions, the lawyer said, authorizing the company to disclose such records to protect public safety or national security, or in compliance with a lawful government request.

"It is within their terms of service because you have consented to that," the lawyer said. If the company also consents, "and they do it voluntarily, the U.S. government can accept it."
You see - you did it voluntarily.

And when you voluntarily forfeited your right to privacy, your kindly government was forced to spy on you.

This isn't the action of an administration worried about terrorism, it's the action of an administration worried about dissent from within.

For some reason, this argument reminds me of insurance companies arguing hurricane surge damage isn't due to the hurricane, but to the policyholder's stupidity for living in a flood zone.

I have to hand it to the government, though - of all the nits they could pick, they sure picked a doozy.

Friday cat blogging

From the Kitty Olympics

Step #1 - A leaping mount into a small space already occupied by your brother - Trouble nails it!

Step #2 - executing the difficult full-body revolution
with a half twist into his brother's face...

Step #3 - the forward lunge with a releve' turn, a dangerous Brother Squish, and - a big smile for the crowd!


Thursday, May 11, 2006

No grandpuppy pictures today

True to my word, I'm laying off the grandpuppy pictures for a bit.

But that doesn't mean you can't see (and hear) -

Damn the diplomacy, full speed ahead!

From Raw Story -
US military, intelligence officials raise concern about possible preparations for Iran strike

According to military and intelligence sources, an air strike on Iran could be doable in June of this year, with military assets in key positions ready to go and a possible plan already on the table.


Two air-craft carriers are already en route to the region, RAW STORY has found. The USS Abraham Lincoln, which recently made a port call in Singapore, and the USS Enterprise which left Norfolk, Virginia earlier this month, are headed for the Western Pacific and Middle East. The USS Ronald Reagan is already operating in the Gulf


I'm not sure posing him in front of George the Smarter was such a good idea.

Let the wealthy rejoice!
There are more than a few reasons not to like this bill. It is skewed toward the wealthy; average households (earning the U.S. median of about $44,000) would save less than $50 a year, according to the Tax Policy Center of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution, while those earning more than $1 million would save almost $42,000. The plan would also add to the deficit. When Frist and President Bush were promoting these cuts in 2001 and 2003, they dismissed concerns about the effect on the deficit by emphasizing that the reductions were only temporary. Just like their argument. (LA Times)
In the meantime, our health insurance just went up over $100 a month with big increases in copays and deductibles.

So, yeah - thank you, Republicans, for that $50 per year.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Bush in waiting

I have been carefully ignoring this all day, as I have enough physical problems without adding "nausea".
Could there be a third President Bush? The current chief said Wednesday that younger brother Jeb would make a great one, too, and has asked him about making a run. The first President Bush likes the idea as well.
We all know what great personnel judgements the current chief makes, and I think we can forgive Poppy his fatherly indulgence.

I think my kid would be a great president, too. Actually, I think anybody's kid would be better than the current Oval Office squatter.


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Not perfect

Much as it pains me to admit it, I’m not perfect.

Among my various character and physical shortcomings, my corneal epithelia are defective. You did know you had corneal epithelia, didn’t you?

In plain, old redneck layman's terms, those are the thin membranes that cover your eyeballs and protect them from dust and sand and other such critters.

In my case, the membranes become detached, irregular, shredded, and OUCH…extremely painful. There are days when I spend hours in horrific, head-banging pain and am too light-sensitive to look out the window, much less look at a computer monitor. Unfortunately, it’s a genetic thing.

It’s true; the Creator, Intelligent Designer, Flying Spaghetti Monster, or evolution (whatever you credit)…done me wrong. Or perhaps I slept too late on Epithelia Distribution Day.

And – as Paul Harvey used to say – now you know the rest of the story. That’s why I take sudden, unexplained absences from blogging and mysteriously cease leaving comments at other sites.

It’s not because I don’t like you; it’s because I don’t like looking at you. Er….I mean, can’t look at you. Honestly.

I’ve been back and forth to an opthamologist for months, trying to get some relief. There is no cure, and the non-invasive, palliative conservative treatments have failed utterly. His latest advice was – “It’s not bad enough to do anything further. Take a Tylenol. That will be fifty-bucks”.

I’m not kidding. I cried all the way home and sank into depression.

Since I can’t live like that, I switched doctors…..and now I’m getting a new toy. We all love getting new toys, don’t we? I just hope this one will live up to its promise.

I’ll be getting new corneal epithelia. Seems they are sort of like worms….you chop them off, and they grow back.

Hopefully, they will grow back healthy and do their cornea-protecting job the way nature intended.

Since it’s a genetic defect, it’s possible they will get all funky again – but the prospect of a few pain-free years sounds like livin' la vida loca to me. Several studies have yielded very positive results for that time frame.

After the surgeon scrapes off the epithelia (sounds lovely, doesn’t it? It’s a lot like scraping off the burnt bits on your morning toast) he will use an excimer laser to smooth out the erosions that also keep popping up in my cornea. Obviously, my eyes will be numbed by anesthetic drops while this is going on, otherwise he wouldn’t get anywhere near me with an eyeball-scraper.

And while he’s foolin’ around with my eyes, he will reshape the cornea a bit here & there. Which means for the first time in my entire life I will have perfect or near-perfect vision.

Since I’m over ‘a certain age’, I’ll most likely still need reading glasses, but I’m fairly confident I can adjust to waking up in the morning actually seeing my alarm clock without reaching for my thick glasses or resorting to contacts that never really helped much.

If it sounds familiar - no, it's not LASIK, but it is the forerunner - photorefractive keratectomy, or PRK laser surgery. But since it's being done on a diseased cornea it is magically transformed into phototherapeutic keratectomy, thus making it palatable (and covered) by insurance.

So – to make a long story short, I will be taking a (hopefully brief) hiatus from the blogosphere while I undergo this procedure. I expect to be whacked out with Vicodin for a couple of days and probably very light-sensitive for a week or so. Normal, non-drug induced whacked-out blogging will hopefully resume shortly after that.

At the moment, it looks like the procedure will take place after May 23rd. On that day I'll have my lower tear ducts cauterized to help retain moisture.

So, please bear with me on those days when I am cyber-silent. It's been a rough few months, but hopefully it will all be over soon.

The morning routine

Trouble takes a break from his morning chirp-back-at-the-birds routine to give me the Feline Laser Stare of Death.


Monday, May 08, 2006

Breaking news

The current breaking news on CNN is that the trapped gold miners in Australia have been rescued. Very nice.

But the real breaking news is on TPM Muckraker.

Dubya's pick to run the CIA is connected to the Cunningham bribery scandal.

Pass the popcorn.

It's official
The Ministry of Defense confirmed on Sunday a secret study completed in December 2000 had found no evidence that "flying saucers" or unidentified flying objects were anything other than natural phenomena.

The 400-page report, released under freedom of information laws to an academic from the northern city of Sheffield, concluded that meteors and unusual atmospheric conditions could explain UFO sightings such as bright lights in the sky.
Up next for the Ministry of Defense: What is that on the Queen's head?


Are we of the left blogosphere being a tad unkind to Dubya, castigating him for relating a fish story as the high point of his presidency?

When you look back over his record, it probably WAS the high point for him.

The only moment I can think of that comes anywhere close would be that bullhorn-on-the-ruins-of-the-WTC business, and even that doesn't come off all that well:
"I would say the best moment of all was when I stood on the ruins of the World Trade Center and spoke to the rescue workers surrounded by all the firepower the police, FBI, and Secret Service could provide after spending several days hiding from boogeymen or other terrorists and then didn't bother to secure the nation or catch Osama".
Just doesn't reflect too well on the poor slob, does it?

But maybe only marginally better than admitting there have been no 'high points'.


Thanks to Elizabeth Bumiller, it comes to our attention that Dubya is pondering Life After Presidency.

And we're certainly glad to hear he actually plans to leave it, though we are not taking bets on that "President For Life" scenario just yet.
At this point, Southern Methodist University in Dallas is considered the favorite to get Mr. Bush's presidential library and policy center, but the University of Dallas and Baylor University in Waco, Tex., near the president's ranch, are also in the running. All three universities have submitted formal proposals to the Bush library selection committee, led by Donald L. Evans, the former commerce secretary and Mr. Bush's longtime friend.
Asked why Donald L. Evans, Mr. Bush's longtime friend, didn't build the library in his own back yard, Mr. Evans replied "NIMBY".

Fortunately, Mr. Bush needn't bother with details of the building. It's all been laid out for him at Uncle Melon's Future Site of the Official George W. Bush Presidential Library.

Come on in.

Set a spell.

Take your shoes off. Y'all come back now, y'hear?


Saturday, May 06, 2006

Mother Earth giving birth

Is this cool, or what?
Rock Fin Grows in Mount St. Helens' Crater

If the skies are clear as forecast, volcano watchers who turn out for the reopening of the Johnston Ridge Observatory on Friday will get a spectacular view of a hulking slab of rock that's rapidly growing in Mount St. Helens' crater.

It's jutting up from one of seven lobes of fresh volcanic rock that have been pushing their way through the surface of the crater since October 2004.

he fin-shaped mass is about 300 feet tall and growing 4 feet to 5 feet a day, said Dan Dzurisin, a geologist at the U.S. Geological Survey.

The rock in the crater began growing last November, steadily moving west and pushing rock and other debris out of its way as it goes.
I can hear the opening strains of "Also Sprach Zarathustra"....

One mo' time...

Then I promise I'll lay off the puppy pictures for a while.

Worst Encounters of the Turd Kind

If you start your morning by swearing at a few drops of bird-poop on your car, you really need to heed this warning.

Signs warning of bird droppings were posted along a stretch in downtown Orlando this week after cars, benches, sidewalks, plants and even people are hit and covered by the white bird waste, according to a Local 6 News report. The problem began when city workers removed cypress trees on "bird island" at Lake Eola in Orlando. The trees had to be removed because the bird droppings were polluting the water, according to the report. Now, the birds have moved into the city and are covering anything and anyone between Lake Eola and Central Avenue with droppings. "You have to brace yourself for the smell," downtown resident James Taylor said. "It is a really bad stench. It is disgusting, absolutely disgusting." (link)
It's not nice to fool with Mother Nature.
Happy Saturday photoblogging

Spring is bustin' out all over on the campus of Lees-McRae College in the gorgeous northwestern North Carolina mountains.

This is one of the walkways between buildings on campus. Even a rainy day can't hide the beauty.

Leaking to the blogosphere

Melanie divulges the secret behind real 'Southern Fried Chicken'.

My fore-mothers from many generations have marinated it exactly this way. Seasonings and coatings may change, but the marinade never changes.

Yes, I know it sounds icky. But it works, and it's the REAL finger-lickin' good.

You can't trust many of my domestic tips, but you can take this one to the bank.

Another "heckuva job"
In the clandestine service alone, Goss lost one director, two deputy directors and at least a dozen department heads, station chiefs and division directors, many with the key language skills and experience he has said the agency needs. The agency is on its third counterterrorism chief since Goss arrived. (link)
I feel SO much safer with Our Decider-In-Chief at the helm.

The grandpuppy

Hi, Grandma!

At nine weeks, a little over one pound.

Healthy, frisky, affectionate with all the makings of a fine shoe-shredder.

(click any photo for larger view)

Friday, May 05, 2006


Josh speaks for me.

Did anyone else get the impression Moussaoui was a fifth-rate underling with a tenth-rate intellect whom al-Queda abandoned rather than wasting time and money on him?

Of course, that begs the question - "Where's Osama?"

Friday Cat Blogging

Randy, wondering if that shiny thing is in his mamma's hand is edible.

And his dense brother, Trouble -

The light's on, but no one's at home..

And some bonus grandpuppy blogging....

Can't be easy to take a picture with one hand while a puppy chews on the other.


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Bring on the flu

If I were the CEO of a big pharmaceutical company, I'd be over in Asia gathering up all the avian flu tainted bird poop I could find and bring it to the United States.

At the right moment, I'd sprinkle it wherever it had the most chance of entering the water system and food chain.

If/when the avian flu pandemic strikes, people will Want A Vaccine, and they will Want It Yesterday.

So here's what our mythical company will do.

We will take some of those humongous profits we've been racking up in the last decade or so, and we'll pour it into developing technology that will produce a vaccine quickly.

People will be lining up for this stuff, and we don't want to miss a buck!

Then we'll charge a bundle for each dose. We're a pharmaceutical company - that's what we DO.

And we'll take that money Congress just gave us for the very same development and buy yachts with it. Or maybe open a plant in China.

Isn't it great to do business in America, where Congress will bribe you with taxpayer money to do the right thing?

Oh, boo-hoo

From The Raw Story:
Congresswoman, Bono widow claims Reps can't afford college

Maybe Rep. Mary Bono (D[sic]-Calif.) voted for that pay raise last year because her annual salary of $165,200 just won’t be enough to pay for her 18-year-old son Chesare, better known as Chez, to attend college this fall.

In a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on consumer protection Wednesday afternoon, Bono said, “I could not afford college for my son if Sonny’s royalties were not paying for it.” That would be the royalties from her late husband, the singer and former Congressman.

College isn’t her only expense. Bono mentioned that she recently bought new cars for herself and Chez, both of which needed satellite radio and Bluetooth capabilities.

According to Bono spokeswoman Kimberly Collins, Chez plans to attend the University of Southern California this fall, though his admission is conditional on completion of a summer school course. USC would cost $46,966 a year in tuition, housing and other costs, according to the school’s Web site.
I don't even know where to begin.

These are the people making laws affecting the rest of us.

I have a camera, and I'm not afraid to use it

I'm just not very good at it.

My family units know I'm one of the world's worst photographers. Somehow my finger often ends up in the frame or I cut off the heads of people I'm photographing or forget to use the flash or use it when I shouldn't.

But I decided to take the plunge with a decent digital camera, and so far things aren't too bad.

The new hydrangea plant that I haven't killed yet.

Who knows, maybe even some cat or dog blogging soon.

Support the hostages

Read Riverbend's chilling account of Iranian influence and control in Iraq.
The big question is- what will the US do about Iran? There are the hints of the possibility of bombings, etc. While I hate the Iranian government, the people don’t deserve the chaos and damage of air strikes and war. I don’t really worry about that though, because if you live in Iraq- you know America’s hands are tied. Just as soon as Washington makes a move against Tehran, American troops inside Iraq will come under attack. It’s that simple- Washington has big guns and planes… But Iran has 150,000 American hostages.
I hope the Bushies spare a thought for those 150,000 American hostages before they start tossing bombs again.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Some comforting news from your federal government
The report's big message: "Local communities will have to address the medical and nonmedical impacts of the pandemic with available resources." That's because the federal government won't be able to offer the kind of aid expected after hurricanes or other one-time, one-location natural disasters, it says.
Translation: And you thought Katrina response was bad!!

Now we're getting somewhere

Once businesses realize the 'net neutrality' fight isn't just a matter for pajama-clad bloggers, the House's stupid video franchising bill should go down in richly deserved flames.
Finance firms may weigh in on net-neutrality battle

The financial-services industry is considering coordinated opposition to the “net neutrality” language in the House’s video franchising bill, fearing a financial hit if lawmakers allow phone and cable companies to charge banks more for secure Web service.

Until now, the fight over network neutrality has pitted telecom sector against telecom sector, with broadband giants such as AT&T and SBC pushing for freedom to charge online content providers such as Microsoft and Google more money for speedier service. Bankers and stock exchanges, which have benefited from popular online operations, would be a new voice calling for mandated nondiscrimination but could be a loud enough voice to force lawmakers to strengthen the bill’s net neutrality provision.
Any company that has sold something over the 'net has a dog in this fight.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Fixing what's breaking

From the LA Times:
The financial condition of Medicare is growing progressively worse and its problems will eventually eclipse those of Social Security, the trustees of the government's two biggest social programs reported Monday.

But the warning, for all its urgency, appeared unlikely to spur major action on such a sensitive issue in an election year. Far from cutting back, Congress and the president have expanded Medicare with the creation of the prescription drug benefit.

"There is no crisis," Rep. Pete Stark (D-Fremont), the senior Democrat on the House health subcommittee, said in a sharp response to the report. "Much as President Bush manipulated intelligence to justify an unnecessary war in Iraq, his administration is using these projections to rationalize dismantling Medicare."
Excellent analogy, Rep. Stark.

What do you do when something is broken or breaking?

Most responsible, thrifty, creative adults will cast about for a way to fix it. If they can't do it themselves and it's important, they pay someone to fix it for them. Only when something is demolished beyond repair should it be thrown into the landfill.

Medicare may be broken, but it is fixable. The only reason it hasn't been fixed is because our congressclowns are unable to stand up to health insurance companies and Big Pharma and tell them to change or risk penalties.

A good start would be changing to a uniform medical coding system (Bryan has often advocated for this common-sense proposal).

How many people does it take to process a Medicare claim? Usually, at least three - one in the physician's office, one in the health care insurance company's office, and another at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Each of those people has to spend time converting the medical code from one system to the other, then forwarding the claim to the next step on the ladder.

Even when there is no supplemental health insurance involved, it's still a two step process and the problem of deciphering coding remains.

That's just for ONE claim, which could be as simple as one lab test. Anything involving examinations, medical procedures, consultations, or further tests creates it's own claim.

That's millions of claims filed each day and many more millions of labor hours spent processing them.

You'd think an administration that prides itself on their business acumen would tumble on to simple, streamlining measures as cost-efficient.

Maybe our next administration should be a bunch of industrial engineers?


Monday, May 01, 2006

"..fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again."

Oh yes, you can - if your name is George Bush or you are one of his groupies.

Chalabi involved US, Iran policy making again, current and former intelligence officials say
Ahmed Chalabi, the man who helped provide cooked intelligence on Iraq to the Pentagon and the New York Times in the lead-up to war, is once again being engaged in US policy decisions, current and former intelligence officials say.

According to two former high level counterintelligence officials, one former senior counterterrorist official and another intelligence officer, Chalabi is acting as broker between the US Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, and Iranian officials in what are now stalled diplomatic efforts between the US and Iran.


It is unclear, however, who has tasked Chalabi to act as middleman or who he is representing in these attempts at negotiations.
I should think it would be perfectly clear who Chalabi represents...himself.


My beautiful eight-week-old grandpuppy, snuggling under a blanket on Andantette's lap.

I was going to post a picture of him sleeping under a blanket on Andantette's lap, but Blogger hates me.

Happy Mission FUBAR Day

It's been three long years since Dubya declared "mission accomplished".

2400 U.S. casualties
110 Coalition casualties
87 U.S. and international journalists killed
317 U.S. and international contractors killed
34,711-38,861 Iraqi civilians killed


So far, the only mission actually accomplished seems to be the capture of Saddam Hussein - and he isn't worth any one of those lives.


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