Tuesday, February 28, 2006

looking for spring.......

As we approach the end of winter, we look to the earth to give us signs that a rebirth is imminent. It is only a matter of time and patience before the first trees and bulbs sprout, and we are able to leave our homes without the customary heavy coats. We are in ourselves, are our own groundhogs who peek out the front doors of our homes to see if the temperatures are not too frigid, while not really caring if we see our shadows or not.

This winter proved to be a mix bag of temperatures for the South. We experienced many more days that were fair than those that were cold; so much so, that the trees were tricked by the mildness and began to bud early. Bulbs that layed in wait, peeked through their winter beds and decided that the time was right to come out altogether. There were no hard freezes, no snow to speak of, and most days didn't feel like winter. Oh sure, we had a few days that some flurries made their presence known, but it never lasted more than a few minutes, and it never gathered on the ground before the sun came out and melted the remnants away.

Our groundhog, General Lee, came out on February 2nd, and it was declared that winter was over as he never saw his shadow. Seeing that it was an overcast day, I'm not the least bit surprised.... but then I never really bought into that theory anyway. I look to the ground, but not for shadows. When I see the carpet of violets that invade my yard, or the crab grass stalks that shoot for the sun, I know we are well on our way to breaking the cycle of cold.

I can't rely on the daffodils that come up, as they are early risers anyway.... the show-offs of my gardens. Wanting as much attention as they can get, they raise out of their long slumber and stretch their green leaves skyward in late January. I'm always tempted to pick them, as their fragrance is uberpresent in any room you put them in. However, they do not last long in a vase, and they look so much nicer in the yard, giving the brown of winter the splash of color it so desperately needs. Along with the pansies and kale that love the cold weather, you'd almost never believe that it is winter if you were looking at a picture..... that is until spring comes along.
These brave winter plantings give way to the impatiens, dianthus and mums that seem to come up on their own.

All that said though, we do have to wait for that last hard freeze to come along. It is very important to the South to have one, as it helps to kill the nests of mosquitoes (our state bird) that have been hibernating as well. Without one, the summer is intolerable, and any unprotected skin receives bumps and welts that itch more with every scratching. Wearing bug repellent along with skin protection becomes the new perfume of the late spring/ early summer season... for without it, you run the risk of contracting encephalitis or lyme disease.

Spring also brings on the tornado season, which leads into hurricane season. Although we do not necessarily have to worry about hurricanes, the last two years have proven to be cautious for us on the ones that come up through the Gulf. We may not experience them on their full force, but we do receive the rains, high winds, and evacuees clearing to safer grounds. Our gas prices sky-rocket, shelves in stores are emptied in preparation, and nervous store owners gouge the prices out of us. We saw this firsthand during Katrina when gas prices topped over $4.00 in some places.

So with all the things that happen down here in Spring, why would a New England girl want to move into such an area? Well..... because the winters are mild, and I don't ever have to shovel.
Summer is a given that it's ok to move a little slower, as it's just too hot to move fast; and Autumn is golden. Spring, on the other hand.... well.... it's the lacing of color that spreads across the landscape. You don't even have to look for it.... it's in front of you, even if it's only for a short time. It's a rejuvenation of life in the grandest of splendors, and the earth smells good if you can make it past the green/ yellow pollen that blankets everything in sight. The only time you actually have to look for Spring in the South is at the end of winter, for when it's here in full force.... there's no denying it's personality.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

those silly and confusing grey areas.........

Talk to most people, and they see the world in terms of black and white. Either it's right or wrong, pass or fail, and no in between will be found with them. I could never quite buy into that rational, as I feel many (if not most) things have not two sides, but three. It was all a matter of looking through the forest to see the trees. It's what I call the "grey areas".

Enter into any discussion between two people who take different views on an issue, and you will find great arguments to support each stand. Those are the first two sides. Enter a mediator, and you have a third side. This is the person who has to tackle the issue of the grey areas. It's not an easy position, to be sure, but a necessary and important one, as the mediator needs to extract the best of both sides, while remaining objective... a juror of sorts.

I stood in that position 18 years ago when I was selected to be a juror in a rape trial. The victim was a 9 year old girl, the alleged rapist was in his 40's. Out of the many times I have been called for jury duty, this was the only actual case I was picked to sit in on. Part of me wanted to convict this man solely on the idea that he sat in the defendants chair, but my rational mind wanted the facts first.... as that's the democratic process they warn you about in a movie they show prior to making it into the courtroom. Once in the courtroom, "voir dire" is the content of questions both attorneys ask each individual before picking a non-partial, non-predjudice person to sit on a jury. Seeing that my answers to the questions appealed to both sides, and I was already one of the first twelve people already sitting in the jury box, selection was made, and I received my badge to wear throughout the proceedings.

Always having grandeur designs on being in a real life "Perry Mason" situation, I took my position seriously, and listened to all the facts layed before me. It was NOT a no-brainer, and there were no outbursts from the galley, this was very serious business indeed. The actual trial lasted only one day, the deliberations, two. It was heart-wrenching to say the least, as the young girl looked so little, and was quite definite that the man that sat in the defendants chair did indeed rape her. She would be ruined for life, as he had not only "tore her up", but had given her gonorrhea as well. This would raise questions in her future whether she would be able to ever have children.... a statement the girls attorney tried to drive home every chance she had.
On the other hand, the defendants attorney was skillful in his questioning as well. He confused the girl on every story she told about the incident, making her seem unsure of all the circumstances that had occurred. Through all this, the defendants attorney seemed cool and collected. He had many friends of the defendant there to stand up for the character of his client, as well as a picture of a known rapist who frequented the area where the crime had occurred.
The girls attorney did not fare so well on the evidence side, nor did she control her temper well.

Going into the deliberation room to discuss the facts, we were all left with a sense that not all the facts had really been revealed to us, and coming to find out later, they weren't. But I'll get to that.

After picking a jury foreman, we discussed all possibilities of the situation. Insert scenes of "Twelve Angry Men" here. We did do our share of arguing, deliberating, and listening to others. Somehow, though, things still did not add up. Calling in the court officer to re-examine the evidence, and possibly get a copy of the transcripts, we were told that we would have to rely on any notes we had made and pictures put into evidence... no transcripts would be allowed. Although this didn't seem to be fair, we were not in a position to argue the point, as the judge had issued his ruling on the matter. We were to declare the man innocent, guilty, or flat out come to no decision, thus making it a mistrial. The foreman (which was actually a woman), begged us to come together, as she didn't want the stigma of the mistrial. We finally did at the end of day two, and declared the man innocent.

I knew as soon as the verdict was read, we were terribly wrong. The defendant showed no emotion whatsoever, other than a smirk on his face. No jubilation at his freedom, no shaking of hands with his attorney. I only saw the look of a man who knew that he had gotten away with a heinous crime, and wanted nothing more than to get out on the streets again. He would make a hasty retreat as soon as the judge banged his gavel that the proceedings were over. On the other hand, the girls attorney was truly mad at us, and her disgust was apparent. She not only pooled each of us individually with our verdict, but then hastily gather all her evidence and stomped out the door. We were left in a complete state of disbelief, and wanted to talk with her upon moving out of the courtroom. Her assistant was left to answer any questions, as her boss waved us off with her hand and very loudly declared, " I don't want to talk with any of them, they just let off a rapist! They can all live with that for the rest of their lives!" Well, come to find out, this man had seen the inside of a courtroom many more times than we all had collectively. This was not the first time he was charged with rape, and chances are it wouldn't be the last. When we asked why that evidence was not available in the trial, we were told that prior offenses were not allowed to be revealed, as it would have predjudiced our minds.

To be honest with you, it would be the only time that I wouldn't have minded that the grey areas be put to the side. This really was a case of black and white. That said, though, I still believe that I couldn't let that lead my life for me. Everything still deserves the honest weighing of both sides, extracting important elements, and coming to a decision of what side to stand on, even if it means that I agree with certain things from two opposing sides. I call that: my side. It sure seems confusing, I know. One should take a stand, and stay there.... and on certain issues, I most certainly do. One thing I know for certain though, I am never above the fact that I could be terribly wrong, and it's mostly due to the fact that I didn't pay attention the the grey areas as well as I should have.

On a side note to all of this, I never did hear anything more about the little girl or the rapist. I was called into jury duty a few years after that, and scolded by the sitting judge at that time, because I declared that duty would be a hardship for me then. Taking my lickings, and walking out of the Fulton County Courthouse, I remembered the judge and his court clerk. It was hard not to. This past March, our city was held somewhat hostage by a man waiting for trial who overcame a guard, stole her gun, then brutally shot a judge and court clerk while they were preparing morning papers before court started. It turned out that it was the judge that had scolded me, and his court clerk. Once again, I was called to jury duty this past September (getting my summons on my birthday in August), and in telling it to a friend, she said I would probably have to sit in on the Brian Nichols case.... the man who had shot the judge and his clerk. I told her that I had no doubts I would be disqualified, as I found no grey areas here. This was purely black and white, and I knew that Nichols was guilty as sin.

Friday, February 24, 2006

product liability suit......

In the United States District Court, Southwestern District, Tempe, Arizona Case No B19293, Judge Joan Kujava, Presiding
Wile E. Coyote, Plaintiff vs Acme Company, Defendant

Opening statement of Mr. Harold Schoff, attorney for Mr. Coyote:

My client, Mr Wile E Coyote, a resident of Arizona and contiguous states, does hereby bring suit for damages against the Acme Company, manufacturer and retail distributor of assorted merchandise, incorporated in Delaware and doing business in every state, district, and territory. Mr. Coyote seeks compensation for personal injuries, loss of business income, and mental suffering caused as a direct result of the actions and/or gross negligence of said company, under Title 15 of the United States Code Chapter 47, section 2072, subsection (a), relating to product liability.

Mr. Coyote states that on eighty-five seperate occasions, he has purchased of the Acme Company (hereinafter, "Defendant"), through that company's mail order department, certain products which did cause him bodily injury due to defects in manufacture or improper cautionary labeling. Sales slips made out to Mr. Coyote as proof of purchase are at present in the possession of the Court, marked Exihibit A. Such injuries sustained by Mr. Coyote have temporarily restricted his ability to make a living in the profession of predator. Mr. Coyote is self-employed and thus not eligible for Workman's Compensation.

Mr. Coyote states that on December 13th, he received of Defendant via parcel post one Acme Rocket Sled. The intention of Mr. Coyote was to use the Rocket Sled to aid him in pursuit of his prey. Upon receipt of the Rocket Sled, Mr. Coyote removed it from it's wooden shipping crate and sighting his prey in the distance, activated the ignition. As Mr. Coyote gripped the handlebars, the Rocket Sled accelerated with such sudden and precipitate force as to stretch Mr. Coyote's forelimbs to a length of fifteen feet. Subsequently, the rest of Mr. Coyote's body shot forward with a violent jolt, causing him severe strain to his back and neck and placing him unexpectedly astride the Rocket Sled. Disappearing over the horizon at such speed as to leave a diminishing jet trail along its path, the Rocket Sled soon brought Mr. Coyote abreast of his prey. At that moment, the animal he was pursuing veered sharply to the right. Mr. Coyote vigorously attempted to follow this maneuver but was unable to, due to poor design and engineering on the Rocket Sled and a faulty or nonexistent steering system. Shortly thereafter, the unchecked progress of the Rocket Sled led it and Mr. Coyote into collision with the side of a mesa.

Paragraph One of the Report of Attending Physician (Exihibit B), prepared by Dr. Ernst Grosscup, M.D., D.O., details the multiple fractures, contusions, and tissue damage suffered by Mr. Coyote as a result of this collision. Repair of the injuries required full bandage around the head (excluding the ears), a neck brace, and full or partial cast on all four legs. Hampered by these injuries, Mr. Coyote was nevertheless obliged to support himself. With this in mind, he purchased of Defendant as an aid to mobility one pair of Acme Rocket Skates. When he attempted to use this product, however, he became involved in an accident remarkably similar to that which occurred with the Rocket Sled. Again, Defendant sold over the counter, without caveat, a product which attached powerful jet engines (in this case, two) to inadequate vehicles, with little or no provision for passenger safety. Encumbered by his heavy casts, Mr. Coyote lost control of the Rocket Skates soon after strapping them on, and collided with a roadside billboard so violently as to leave a hole in the shape of his silhouette.

Mr. Coyote states that on occasions too numerous to list in this document, he has suffered mishaps with explosives purchased of Defendant: the Acme "Little Giant" Firecracker, The Acme Self-guided Aerial Bomb, etc. (For full listing, see the Acme Mail Order Explosives Catalog and attached deposition, entered in evidence as Exhibit C.) Indeed, it is safe to say that not once has an explosive purchased of Defendant by Mr. Coyote performed in an expected manner. To cite just one example: At the expense of much time and personal effort, Mr. Coyote constructed around the outer rim of a butte a wooden trough beginning at the top of the butte and spiralling downward around it to some few feet above a black X painted on the desert floor. The trough was designed in such a way that a spherical explosive of the type sold by Defendant would roll easily and swiftly down to the point of detonation indicated by the X. Mr. Coyote placed a generous pile of birdseed directly on the X, and then, carrying the spherical Acme Bomb (Catalog #78) climbed to the top of the butte. Mr. Coyote's prey, seeing the birdseed, approached and Mr. Coyote proceeded to light the fuse. In an instant, the fuse burned down to the stem, causing the bomb to detonate. In addition to reducing all Mr. Coyote's careful preparations to naught, the premature detonation of Defendant's product resulted in the following disfigurements to Mr. Coyote:

1) Severe singeing of the hair on the head, neck, and muzzle.
2) Sooty discoloration.
3) Fracture of the left ear at the stem, causing the ear to dangle in the aftershock with a creaking noise.
4) Full or partial combustion of whiskers, producing kinking, frazzling and ashy disintegration.
5) Radical widening of the eyes, due to brow and lid charring.

We come now to the Acme Spring-Powered Shoes. The remains of a pair of these purchased by Mr. Coyote on June 23rd are Plaintiff's Exhibit D. Selected fragments have been shipped to the metallurgical laboratories of the University of California at Santa Barbara for analysis, but to date, no explanation has been found for this product's sudden and extreme malfunction.

As advertised by Defendant, this product is simplicity itself: two wood and metal sandals, each attached to milled-steel springs of high tensile strength and compressed in a tightly coiled position by a cocking devise with a lanyard release. Mr. Coyote believed that this product would enable him to pounce upon his prey in the initial moments of the chase, when swift reflexes are at a premium. To increase the shoes' thrusting power still further, Mr. Coyote affixed them by their bottom to the side of a large boulder. Adjacent to the boulder was a path which Mr. Coyote's prey was known to frequent. Mr. Coyote put his hind feet in the wood and metal sandals and crouched in rediness, his right forepaw holding firmly to the lanyard release. Within a short time, Mr. Coyote's prey did indeed appear on the path coming toward him. Unsuspecting, the prey stopped near Mr. Coyote, well within range of the springs at full extension. Mr. Coyote gauged the distance with care and proceeded to pull the lanyard release. At this point, Defendant's product should have thrust Mr. Coyote forward and away from the boulder. Instead, for reasons yet unknown, the Acme Spring-Powered Shoes thrust the boulder away from Mr. Coyote. As the intended prey looked upon unharmed, Mr. Coyote hung suspended in the air. Then the twin springs recoiled, bringing Mr. Coyote to a violent feet-first collision with the boulder, the full weight of his head and forequarters falling upon his lower extremities.
The force of this impact than caused the springs to rebound, whereupon Mr. Coyote was thrust skyward. A second recoil and collision followed. The boulder, meanwhile, which was roughly ovoid in shape, had begun to bounce down a hillside, the coiling and recoiling of the springs adding to it velocity. At each bounce, Mr. Coyote came into contact with the boulder, or the boulder came into contact with Mr. Coyote, or both came into contact with the ground. As the grade was a long one, this process continued for some time. The sequence of collisions resulted in systemic physical damage to Mr. Coyote, viz, flattening of the cranium, sideways displacement of the tongue, reduction of length of legs and upper body, and compression of vertebrae from base of tail to head. Repetition of blows along a vertical axis produced a series of regular horizontal folds in Mr. Coyote's body tissues, a rare and painful condition which caused Mr. Coyote to expand upward and contract downward alternately as he walked, and to emit an offkey, accordian-like wheezing with every step. The distracting and embarrassing nature of this symptom had been a major impediment to Mr. Coyote's pursuit of a normal social life.

As the court is no doubt aware, Defendant has a virtual monopoly of manufacture and sale of goods required by Mr. Coyote's work. It is our contention that Defendant has used its market advantage to the detriment of the consumer of such specialized products as itching powder, giant kites, Burmese tiger traps, anvils, and two-hundred foot long rubber bands. Much as he has come to mistrust Defendant's products, Mr. Coyote has no other domestic source of supply to which to turn. One can only wonder what our trading partners in Western Europe and Japan would make of such a situation, where a giant company is allowed to victimize the consumer in the most reckless and wrongful manner over and over again.

Mr. Coyote respectfully requests that the Court regard these larger economic implications and assess punitive damages in the amount of seventeen million dollars. In addition, Mr. Coyote seeks actual damages (missed meals, medical expenses, days lost from professional occupation) of one million dollars; general damages (mental suffering, injury to reputation) of twenty million dollars; and attorney's fees of seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars. By awarding Mr. Coyote the full amount, this Court will censure Defendant, its directors, officers, shareholders, successors, and assigns, in the only language they understand, and reaffirm the right of the individual predator to equal protection under the law.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

if we were to shrink the world's population......

If we could shrink the world's population to a village of precisely 100 people, it would look something like the following:

There would be:

57 Asians, 21 Europeans, 14 from the Western Hemisphere, both north and south, 8 Africans

52 would be female, 48 would be male

70 would be non-white, 30 would be white

70 would be non-Christian, 30 would be Christian

89 would be hetrosexual, 11 would be homosexual

6 people would possess 59% of the entire world's wealth, and all would be from the United States

80 would be living in substandard housing

70 would be unable to read

50 would suffer from malnutrition

1 would be near death, one would be near birth

1 (yes, only one) would have a college education

1 would own a computer

When one considers our world from such a compressed perspective, the need for acceptance, understanding and education becomes glaringly apparent.

Monday, February 20, 2006

a job nobody really wants......

Trying to decide whether they should call George Washington "His Excellency" or some other regal name, our first President simply said that "Mr. President" would do just fine. It was then that the history of leaders to America was really born. These first men were not politicians, per se; indeed, most were farmers or businessmen. One thing they had in common was the idea that they needed to secede from British rule, and build a nation based on freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Seems like an easy thing to do, huh? First you have to convince the country ruling you that you no longer wanted to have any ties, or pay taxes to them. Then you have to fight a war to press your point. Upon winning the war, the real hard work begins. Now you have to set up a system to govern the people. Great minds and wordsmiths gather to put a list of rules in effect, and in our case, the Articles of Confederation and Constitution are born.

That it is agreed upon to have a strong central government, a leader must be chosen, and on April 30, 1789, George Washington held the first priviledge of being President. In his wake, forty-two men would follow him into service, holding the highest office of our nation. It would be a job that required much of anyone who took the oath of office. History shows us that it was, and is not an easy job. There were great and not so great leaders among them. Some due to poor circumstance, and some due to poor decision making, left a few with a "not so favorable" legacy.
However, there were a few that remain fond in our minds, and we've even carved a few faces in Mt. Rushmore to preserve our reverence to them. In Washington D.C., you will find monuments and museums abundant with historical data, statues and paintings; all of which fill in the missing pieces about each man that became President.

We know that each man that took up residence in the White House had many obstacles to overcome. Besides the consensus of your fellow constituents, you had to be voted in by the people, to work for the people. This could prove to be a heavy weight to carry around. In a few instances, some men coming into office endured some personal tragedies prior to walking through the front door. In four other cases, the nation grieved the loss of a President from assignation. In all cases, each man that served came away looking years older than their age.

As much as we believe it to be the "Top Kahuna" of jobs, it is demanding, and it's hard to get it right. If you look through history, each election year since 1789 holds it's problems of trying to get the right person into office, and we hold that same tradition today. It's never been an easy task, and never will be. As a nation, we want to believe that the man we vote in has our best interests at heart, after all, we are his employers and need the reassurance that he is on our side. We also need him to be proficient in world affairs. Since the world has gotten considerably smaller due to aviation and technology, this has become an important element to our survival. We are sadly still looking for such a candidate.

If the job of President were part of a want-ad page, it might read something like this:

WANTED~ Someone who likes to work long hours. Must be able to manage over 280 million people, make snap decisions and oversee government. Benefits, plenty; rewards, few. House and staff included. All those with thin skin need not apply.

Perhaps the next election will give us some choices we can really work with, as we are long overdue. The challenge will be difficult to whoever lands in the Oval Office, as the war on terror will march into the future. It is not going to go away when our present President leaves in a few years, as much as we'd like it to. If you look through the annals of history, you will see men who accepted the challenge, only to come away beaten, tired and broken by the office. They, too, had to oversee wars, internal discontent, and failing economies. They all went in with good intentions, and came away with heavy shoulders that sagged under the weight of the office. This makes me wonder why anybody in their right mind would ever want this for a job.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

the big easy.......

If you look at a geographical map of New Orleans, and study it's history, you would come to conclude that it's a mixed bag of feelings on whether it should have been considered a port city so long ago. Although it is nicely placed between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain, it mostly sits on the floodbanks of the river and is located below sea level. Although there were levees built around the crescent shaped city, it still does little to protect them from random and devastating storms... as witnessed by Katrina and Rita.

Back in 1984, I picked New Orleans as a destination for my honeymoon. While other people considered me crazy and unromantic for such a strange choice, I plodded on with my plans, knowing that it was a city full of magic and imagination.... and I wasn't wrong. It was all that and more. Rich in culture and diverse in colorful characters, New Orleans held a charm I couldn't resist taking in.

I had made a mental list of "must see and do's", and was pleasantly surprised that we managed to do everything, but one. That was alright though, because it was made up by doing things I hadn't even imagined we'd do at all. This very same year, the World' s Fair was hosted in New Orleans, and being a fair lover, it was one of the first attractions on the list. It wasn't as big as the New York Worlds Fair of 1965, or Man and His World in Montreal in 1968, but it didn't matter..... we were in New Orleans. There were still a many great pavilions to tour, wonderful food to taste, and cultures to observe. Both of us being history lovers, we were in our element.

You can't go to New Orleans without taking in Bourbon Street and the French Quarter. You might as well not make the trip at all if they are not on the list. During the day, the area held it's usual hustle and bustle of tourists, but at night it came alive. The sounds of jazz that exploded out of each bistro and restaurant, the minstrels playing in the streets, and the smells of Cajun cooking permeated the night air and made you feel special for just being there.

We managed to sip coffee and nibble on biegnets at the Cafe' DuMonde, taste candy made at Aunt Sally's in the heart of the Vous Carre, and tour Jackson Square which had a wonderful museum abundant in New Orleans history. Without even knowing it, a small Mardi Gras procession was held one day that same week as they had just re-opened Jax Brewery. Even though this was in October, the area was alive with the spirit of celebration, and we had managed to find ourselves right in the middle of it. We would witness a commercial being taped in Jackson Square that starred impersonator, Rich Little, and a small known actor named Jim Carrey. I found it pretty cool that we stumbled across this with no plan in mind, and came away with Mardi Gras beads, and plenty of good memories.

We would also tour the spooky graveyards of the city. It was fascinating to see these old relics of gravestones that withstood the years of floodings, as well as black magic that surrounded them. It was not a trip I would do at night, as I am a bit superstitious, but I had no problem with them in the daylight. Being from the north, I was a bit taken aback by the above-ground graves, and further awed by a funeral procession that took place while we were there. It resembles everything you see in the movies. A jazz player really does send these wonderful people into the great beyond. What a nice way to go, huh?

New Orleans also has a marvelous zoo. I had a chance to see real flamingos for the first time, and was impressed by the natural settings the animals were placed in. We took a few hours to walk around and see everything, then headed over to Charles Street to ride the famous trolley that goes from one end to the other of this beautiful boulevard. The houses that line Charles Street were spectacular, gorgeous, and everything I would love to live in if I ever had the money.

Being in the food service, and familiar with Paul Prudhommes famous restaurants, we tried every night to get through the doors to have dinner. If we were willing to wait in line that spread down a few blocks, it would have been possible. Those plans scratched, we managed to find some great restaurants on Bourbon Street, and took in the flavor there. One night we even managed to get a balcony table overlooking all the fun below us. The minstrels managed to play to the balconies, and we were entertained throughout dinner.

You can't imagine my heartache watching the Gulf Coast pummeled by the storms of Katrina and Rita. I had traveled this route from Atlanta on my way to New Orleans. The houses that lined Route 10 were stately, glamorous, and well tended. I kept remarking how I would love to live in one of "those". My husband looked at me and said, "Not me. If a bad hurricane were to hit, these would be the first things to go". Sadly, how right he was.

Seeing the waters of the Gulf Coast made me fall in love with the area immediately. I am an ocean lover, and always have been. Give me the sea and surf anyday.... I don't care where. It soothes my soul, and replenishes my focus on life. Being part New England girl, I have sea water in my veins. I had a hard time watching the pictures of the devastation, knowing that I had seen the area in it's former glory. The ruined homes, shattered lives, and loss of life made my heart bleed for these people.

There has been much controversy if New Orleans should sponsor it's annual Mardi Gras this year. They are going ahead, even though much of the city still sits in ruins. It's been six months since the storms havoced the area. Their police force has been diminished by a few hundred due to lay-offs, retirements, firings and relocators. They are anticipating some problems, but are praying for a party without any major incidents. Many businesses were wiped out, and the word is not in on how much the city can take in for tourists. The one's who reside there have their own mixed feelings about the event. Some are concerned about the safety factor, while others just want to return to normal a bit, thinking the annual celebrations will help to do just that.

The way I see it.... Even though I know that it will take years to rid the debree from all the damage, and much mishandling has been reported of the money going for aid and help, the city deserves the respect of the tourists who will travel there to take in any festivities. May they treat it like sacred ground, spend lots of money to boost the economy a bit, and leave it in better shape then they find it. May they remember that although this is all fun, it's only a temporary bandaid for the feelings of rooted culture. To further their problems with disorderly conduct is slapping them in the face. Everyone needs to remember that right now, it ain't so easy for The Big Easy.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

the golden door.......

Over 400 years ago, a small atoll in Upper New York Bay was known as Gull Island by the Mohegan Indians who inhabited the area. It only measured between two to three acres, and had a habit of vanishing under risings tide waters. Around 1628, it was discovered that the beds surrounding the island were rich in oysters; and it's name was changed to reflect it's "riches". Following the hanging of Anderson the Pirate in 1765, the island was once again renamed as Gibbet Island, after the instrument used to hang Anderson. Twenty years later a man named Samuel Ellis bought the property, and renamed it once more. It would never change names again, and it is affectionately known as Ellis Island today.

It would pass through several of the Ellis descendants before it was purchased by the state of New York, then resold to the federal government in 1808 for a mere $10,000.00. Fort Gibson would be erected on the site between the years of 1812 to 1814. By 1861 the government would dismantle Fort Gibson, and in 1876 Ellis Island would serve as a munitions depot till 1890.
This very same year, Ellis Island was chosen to be the new screening station for all immigrants
entering the United States. Castle Garden, the original station, was no longer able to handle the flow of immigrants, so Ellis Island was increased to 3.3 acres, and had a new ferry slip built to accommodate the steady stream of new "Americans".

Within two years, Ellis Island would be increased once more to the size of 14 arces. Not only would it hold an immigration depot, but support buildings as well. Due to the stricter inspection policies, it became evident by 1897 that a dormitory was needed to house new immigrants until they could be cleared for entry into the states. Then a fire broke out which destroyed almost everything, save a few buildings, before they could erect the new dormitory. The island was forced to shut down while everyone went back to the drawing board. By 1898 a new plan was formed and construction was started. Ellis Island would be increased once more to the size of 17 acres, and a second island was built using the rock and earth taken from New York subway tunnels and Grand Central Station evacuations. On December 17, 1900, the doors to the new registry halls were opened once more. It would resemble the likenesses of train stations, which were accustomed to handling many people at one time as well as cargo. A third island was built using the same process as island 2. It would measure five acres and included a bridge that connected it to island 2. These islands would house hospitals, kitchens, a baggage station, an electrical plant, a bath house, as well as dormitories.

For 64 years, over 17 million people walked through the doors of this magnificent building until even harsher immigration laws and a steady decrease was forced to close it down in 1954. People came from all countries, all walks of life, and all with their own dreams of becoming rich in the "new country". It was what they were told was the golden door to a new and improved life. What they would come to find out was that the streets were not paved in gold, and most likely they would be the ones to help pave the streets.

My maternal Grandparents would be two of those people who would enter into the United States by boat from Italy. They came at separate times in the early 1900's; still young in age, and would eventually become part of an arranged marriage, or else Grandma would have entered into a nunnery.
Grandpa would open his own shoe repair business as he was a skilled cobbler, and Grandma would raise two children, cook, clean, and generally be just a housewife. They never really got used to being here, even though they lived in America almost 80 years... and they would only be able to return back to Italy once. This time they would fly over the Atlantic instead of going by boat. I don't remember too many stories of their original trip, as they didn't talk about it much, but do remember that they always referred to Italy as the "old country".

I only had to imagine how strange it might have been for them to embark on this venture to the "new country". How confusing things might have been dealing with different laws, different customs and different languages. Our country was younger then by almost 100 years. Some of the things we are so comfortable with today did not exist, or even become a thought till after my grandparents were fully bedded down in this new country. Believe it or not, even indoor plumbing was considered a luxury at that time. Refrigerators were "iceboxes", and oil lamps lit more rooms than electricity did.

They were lucky, as some of their relatives had come here first, so they had someone to come over to; a point of reference, as it were. Still, there would be no turning back as passage was considered a one-way deal. Their freedom was considerably haltered by no money to return. It was a brave adventure, with no promises, only hopes and dreams. At that time, you just learned to make do with what you had, and moved into a neighborhood that spoke the same language as you. You found a job, got married, and raised a family. It was a simple equation that ended with grandchildren, and little more was expected of you. They were fortunate to live into their 90's, and see eight grandchildren as well as 7 great- grandchildren. The last great grandchild was born after my Grandmother passed away in 1995.

So for the most part, my grandparents lived an American dream; which was only that they owned land, raised a family, and quite worrying about streets that were not paved in gold. As long as they got the first two things right, they felt they had done the job they were supposed to do. Simpler times, simpler equations... and the golden door that led them on that path so many years ago.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

it's all i have to bring today,
this, and my heart beside,
this, and my heart, and all the fields,
and all the meadows wide.

be sure you count, should i forget-
some one the sum could tell-
this, and my heart, and all the bees,
which in the clover dwell.

~ emily dickinson

Saturday, February 11, 2006

he who laughs last......

The most enjoyable moments of my life have always included laughing. I was lucky to be born into a family that was, and is, incredibly funny.

My Dad had the gift of gab and good stories. He could sit down with anybody and have a wonderful conversation with them within seconds. When he was a young man, he had wanted to go into the theatrical field. After attending just a few classes, he realized he didn't have the heart or soul for the actors life, and decided to switch his major to Speech. In this field, he could become a teacher and help children who were deaf, to communicate. It's almost too bad that Dad didn't pursue acting, because he looked exactly like a young Gene Kelley.
I've mentioned before that he would invite his fellow associates over to our house for Sunday dinners, and no one ever turned him down. His personality and heart were his "gold medals" of traits.... and there was no question that he majored in "speech".
This trait has been nicely passed down the ranks, and I have brothers that share the same gift.

It usually doesn't take too much to get me to laugh, and I am a lover of newspaper cartoons. Somehow they purport more truth to them if you can read between the lines well. A lot, to most, are political satires on the state of the world, and no question in my mind, they are funny. That was their job: to be funny.

Unless you've been living in a cave (no pun intended), or haven't followed the news, the world is experiencing new terrors over the publishing of several cartoons with negative depictions of the prophet, Mohammed. Because of the non-forthcoming apology from the Danish newspaper that printed these, Muslims are expressing their displease with the idea that they are violent, by engaging in riots, mayhem and murder. That'll teach us. right?

I won't go into the details of what the cartoons were, but you can go over to my sidebar and pull up Saurkrauts blog, she nicely linked them.... and I thought they were funny, in the usual political satire sense. It's part of that democratic "free-speech" that we hold so dear to our hearts, and it's something we've all grown up with. Plenty of cartoons have come about other deity's, and we hardly bat an eyelash.... and most people did just that when the cartoons first came out about Mohammed. It became a call to arms for other political agendas, and now all of a sudden it is against the Muslim religion to put out ANY depictions of Mohammed. This is a "new" law we just learned about their culture.... even though you can find earlier pictures and paintings that are not offensive in the least, if you surf the web.... and no riots were ever started over those.

What's truly sad about all of this is the complete utter nonsense of it all. I wanted so hard to believe that a religion that preached peace, really meant it. It's been a disappointment to know that I haven't seen enough signs of it. (Although I did have a cashier at my local grocery store who was Muslim, wish me a "Merry Christmas" this past December.) It seems that the Muslims in America aren't playing into this silliness, but Europe has been put on alert, and for good reason. Danish embassies are being protested by Muslims who brandish signs that say, "Behead Those Who Insult Islam". Whatever "peace message" they were trying to put across was lost in the first car-bombs and rioting.... but they feel vindicated in doing so anyway. I find it puzzling that their text of laws is ambiguous about beheadings, bombings and flying planes into skyscrapers.

Growing up, I was taught to be nice, tolerant, and manners were always in tow. If someone was different from me, I didn't make me better than them; instead, it was an opportunity to learn a new culture. It was important to know the cultures of the world, because it was becoming smaller everyday with modern technology. Best of all, it was to your advantage, because cultures enrich the arts of society, and develop bridges of commerce and friendships. Doesn't that sound nice? Isn't that what we were put here to do? Isn't that what all the religions seem to preach in their own way?
Somehow in this quest, the messages are like cell phone tunnel hells with too much static on our end, and God asking: "Can you hear me now?".

I feel sorry for those who were genuinely offended by the cartoons, and perhaps some jokes do go a little too far. But that said, I still found most to be within the normal realm of what we'd expect from a political cartoon.
Be that as it may, I've always maintained that he who laughs last, never got the joke.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

following the yellow brick road.......

I had always imagined in my adolescence that I would grow up, but not grow old. It's not that I'm ancient, but I grew up in the generation that spawned the phrase: "Never trust anyone over 30". I was born in the middle of the boomer age, and life just got better everyday, because the world was changing, and we were just at the beginning of our lives. Many good years were ahead because technology was making our lives easier, medicines actually cured people, and TV had modernized our world.

Although my parents were strict, and discipline was the order of the house, my parents had a knack for raising good kids. We may not have thought so at the time, but the proof is in the pudding, and we all turned out well. They found importance in things we were learning, and made it their mission to bring us places all the time. Perhaps this is where my passion for history and geography first took roots. All outings with Dad took us to historical events or places. I even remember him lining us all up in front of the TV to watch John Glenn's orbit of the earth. I was real little, but remember the black and white images well.

Since I was the only girl, Mom made me tag along with her most of the time..... and that was ok because we either went shopping or visiting. Shopping was cool, because I still love to do that today (although it's more like drooling and wanting.... and can't afford). Visiting was ok too, because they'd plop me in front of the TV, and I was addicted. Back then, there were only three channels, and all in black and white. I still found something, even if it was an old Greer Garson movie. In the meantime, Dad would take the boys, and go off doing some other fun things with them. I have to admit, our family vacations were great! We were able to see many more places beyond our scope of Connecticut and New Hampshire, where we grew up.

So what's not to like about having a life like that? Nothing. Then I grew up and realized that it was a lot harder work being the adult, than it was being the kid. Suddenly my parents became wise and all-knowing, and now I was going to have to do this too. I didn't have too much adulthood with my Mother, as she died when I was 21. But her words still resonate in my head from time to time. (We've all heard them.... you know... "Wait till you have kids of your own", "When you move out, then YOU can make the rules. Until then, this is my house and my rules", and the ever popular: "Because I said so!"). It's amazing the number of times I've actually repeated them verbatim to my son.

This road of life hasn't always been easy, but it sure has been interesting. I never knew I was experiencing the full effect of the tornado that brought me here, as it all happened so fast. Why just yesterday I was diapering a baby, and today I am sending him off to college. To think at the time, I was worried that he wouldn't make it OUT of diapers. How's that for a tornado? Like Dorothy, I've met the most interesting people along the way. Most will remain friends for life, because we shared some type of bond that drew us together in the first place. Besides, one can never have enough friends!

The yellow bricks of the road were not always set in place securely, and there were many times I tripped. My will is stronger, and I did not stay down for long. My rational mind told me that I needed to pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again. I was lucky that my rational mind already knew how to beat up the depressing, self-pity mind, as it saw me through many character building situations.

I finally came to realize that I was my own best friend, as well as worst enemy. If I could reconcile and come to terms with that, I could actually get a handle on this thing called life. There were no patterns, only hands-on occurrences that got thrown at me constantly, and usually at the most inopportune times. It was all a matter of which was really good for me, and which was not. As the angel and devil on my shoulders held their discussions over it, I also learned to listen to my gut feeling. It takes a lot of practice, and I still goofed many times, but with age comes some amount of wisdom. It's the great reward, if you've still maintained your sanity by that time.

I've been delving through my links and reading all the stories about everyones lives, trials and tribulations. Let me tell you first, that you are all in my prayers. I feel like I've come to know you all in a special friendship, and you've all been very kind to me. I hate the problems that are plaguing your lives, and if I could, I'd wish them all away. That I am a mere mortal, I can't.

The best I can do is tell you that it is all part of life, the good, bad and ugly. We are not all on the same path, but we are all in the same forest. We all have to walk the path the best way we see fit.... and looking for Oz still contains the field of poppies before it. Even with friends to help you along, it still might be difficult to get through the front door. If you do get past the guard, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain; remember, your will and determination are far more important! What doesn't kill you, will make you stronger, right? How do I know this........ because I said so!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

amazing grace.......

Seventy-eight years ago, a baby girl was born in Heilberger, Alabama. She would learn to pick cotton, as well as endure the hardships of poverty during her young life. She encountered her first sense of the world when she attended a private missionary school and studied piano and voice lessons. Having college educated teachers, she resolved to flee the segregated constraints of rural Alabama.

When she was old enough, she moved to Boston to study music at The New England Conservatory of Music. It was there that she met her future husband, a minister from Atlanta, who told her on their first date, "The four things that I look for in a wife are character, personality, intelligence and beauty. And you have them all". Within a year they were married, and a remarkable partnership was formed. What was supposed to be a quiet life of a Ministers wife, turned into a movement that changed history.

On April 4, 1968, her husband was a target of an assisignation, which left him fatally wounded.
Alone, with four small children to raise, she never stopped carrying the torch of freedom for all men, with her tireless work and infinite spiritual depth. She was accused as being chilly and aloof by others in the movement, and faced many controversies over the years. But it was she who came to personify the ideals of her husband. She was well liked and well respected by many people, and many were inspired by her presence alone.

Today, the city of Atlanta lays to rest the mortal remains of Coretta Scott King.

She will be remembered as a woman of amazing grace, even under the harshest of circumstances. In the past few years, The King Center in Atlanta has endured a lot of criticism due to it's lack of family cohesiveness and scandals. It didn't start out that way.
Mrs. King was instrumental in making it a center that enshrined the thoughts and beliefs of her husbands preachings. She became an international symbol of the civil rights revolution of the 1960's, and an advocate for social change till the end of her life; and she willingly lobbied political issues that ranged from womans rights to apartheid in South Africa. Over the past years, she turned the affairs of the center over to her children, and much has been said about the "legacy", but many people feel that nothing has been done to further it, after her children took over.
Many wonder how it will all be held together now that Mrs. King belongs to the ages.
Her children have some very big shoes to fill, but amid all the scandals, they have a bigger mountain to move first.

Mrs. King may have been a mere woman, but she embodied the character of compassion. Even after James Earl Ray was convicted of murdering her husband in 1968, she baffled her allies by contending that Ray did not commit the crime. She stood strong and held the head of a dignified person, a character trait of her inner beliefs. She was very beautiful inside and out.

In her last years, she suffered a stroke, and was left without much of a voice to speak with. She also suffered from ovarian cancer, for which there is no cure. Because she believed in holistic measures as a way of healing, her daughter took her to Baja California, Mexico to seek treatment. Before she could even receive her first treatment, she died in her sleep. Perhaps her tired body just gave out, and now it was time to join her husband. What a sweet way to see her go.

They have reserved her grave on a pleasant spot under some shade trees at the King Center. When her tomb is finished, they will move her body to lay beside that of her husband. Perhaps she wasn't the civil rights leader in the truest sense, but she became the icon and first lady of civil rights after her husband died. She represented a woman of peace, racial justice, womans rights and fairness.

There is no doubt that she escaped the rural trappings of Heilberger, Alabama, and will go down in history books as a mover and shaker of our time.
Rest in peace, Mrs. King.... your work will long be appreciated.

Monday, February 06, 2006

a pervasive problem......

I'd like to think that I am a fair person, and listen to all sides before coming to a judgment in my mind, or speak it as taking a stand. There is one area that I show no mercy for, and there is only one side I will stand on. It would be against stalkers who use the internet to seduce and manipulate meetings with children. There is nothing good about that at all.

Dateline on NBC has aired several shows where they set up a sting using the Perverted Justice Program as decoys to pinpoint some of the 60,000 conversations that go on at any given moment on-line. In the first program of the series, we as viewers were allowed into the dark world of these pedophiles actually salivating over their meetings with what they thought were 13 and 14 year old children. In order to state their intent more blatantly, they actually posted pictures of their private parts over the internet chat room, with descriptions of what they planned to do if a meeting occurred.

This by itself is pretty disgusting and slimy, but they felt a personal need to take it a step farther and actually set up a "play date" with the decoys. In order to prove intent, the decoys asked that presents such as beer and cigarettes be brought, as they were too young to purchase said items themselves. The pedophiles went one step further and also brought condoms in many cases. Once inside the "safe-house", the pedophiles were confronted by Chris Hansen of NBC. Thinking that they were in some sort of trouble, but not handcuffed, most stuck around to be interviewed by Mr. Hansen.... and most professed to an excuse that "this is my first time.... I've never done anything like this before". (Excuse me a moment while I throw up right now.)

As Mr. Hansen had no authority to arrest these people, they were let go. It seems like that didn't stop them, as most got back on-line within hours or days, and set up another chat using the same screen names. Perverted Justice can only issue a warning for them to cease and desist; they also have no other authority than that. Does it surprise anybody that their 15 minutes of fame on TV didn't stop their personal agenda?

I watched last Friday night as the series aired it's third segment. This time Dateline and Perverted Justice worked in conjunction with the Riverside County Sheriffs Department in California. The sheriffs department was only too glad to get in on weeding out these individuals, and perhaps put a dent into the epidemic. The decoy and Chris Hansen went through the same process of enticement, baiting the pedophiles into a meeting, and sat back to wait the arrival of their first customers. It didn't take long, and there were many. The big difference was that the sheriffs department was waiting outside in a concealed van. They were there to specifically do arrests.

What was truly scary had to be the professions of the people that walked up the ally into the safe-house, laden with the presents they were asked to bring. One was a Rabbi, several teachers, an actor, and one a Homeland Security Agent. There were even a few that were registered pedophiles already. (I'll give you a moment to throw up now.)

Although they still professed the same excuse of "first time, yadda, yadda, yadda" it was all something we've heard before. Most of them did admit that they had made a mistake, or they were sick and needed help. One even went as far to say that he was there to teach the "kid" a lesson that you should not be putting your personal information out there for everybody to see.... all this while emptying the bag of presents, including a few packs of condoms. If you are there to teach them a lesson, why would you need condoms?.... a question Chris Hansen asked.

Upon leaving the house, they were arrested. Since the traffic into the house exceeded their expectations, the sheriffs department ran out of officers, and had to call in more troops to cart off the pedophiles. What is odd about the whole thing is that some of the people who had planned to enter the house saw people getting arrested out front first. Instead of using common sense, or being scared straight, they just circled the block and waited for a quieter moment to enter. This was all caught on tape. Because their desires and weaknesses were too strong, and common sense too dull, their personal agendas landed them with a record that day.

A lot of people might consider this entrapment. I don't, and I don't care! As far as I'm concerned, you put yourself in that position in more ways than one. If you plan to stalk the internet, post pictures of your huge private parts (although that is debatable whether they were their own in the first place), and try to set up meetings with children, you deserve every rotten thing that can happen to you. If you want to set up meetings with consenting adults (although many professed that that's what they thought they were doing, even though the decoys age was specifically mentioned on the chat log), then that's your business. Consenting adults is an entirely different issue. Teenagers are just dealing with the grips of their hormones when they are 13, why would any decent adult feel it necessary to confuse the matter further?

My nephew posted a story about a man he worked with a few years back, that was caught in a similar sting operation. This was a man who was a boy scout leader, knowingly had a positive HIV status and continually stalked the internet for personal purposes. It made me sick to realize that the bogeyman was a scout leader. Of all people to be leary of.....

How can we as a nation profess to the world that our life is better here in the United States when we have our own citizens taking advantage of our young? If we want to improve the quality of our lives and become examples, we will need to start in our own backyards. It becomes a rally for all decent people to not just say "just say no", but rather "not on my watch!"

Sunday, February 05, 2006

recovering a post.....

Friday night was a nice quiet night around the homestead. What a perfect opportunity to sit down and post.... which I did. Because I am one of those who edit, and re-edit... I finally called it a night to think over things before I published. My internal clock work me up at 5am Saturday, and I hopped out of bed with the intention of getting into the computer to finish what I had started.

After a nice cup of green tea was brewed, I started my usual re-read, re-edit, and mental massage of how I was going to finish off my post. All went well, and after the spell-check did it's magic, and I published. I came back all day to check for comments, and even traveled through my links to see if anybody else was up and at it. Nothing. Thinking this was a little odd, but certainly not alarming, I just wrote it off to a busy weekend for everybody. Even this morning I went through the same process of checking. My post was still there, but no comments. No problem, after all don't most people sleep in on Sundays anyway?

I went about my day, did some antique hunting, read the paper, did some grocery shopping, and came home to start dinner. A quick check to my blog, and POOF!....my post is missing. I know I am still a plebe at this blogging adventure (I still can't paste, or do anything as fancy as anyone else), but I do know how to publish. Where would it go? I checked the "edit post" area, and found that my work from Friday no longer existed. Huh? What did I do this time?

Well, with no knowledge on how to recover the post, it now belongs to cyberspace.... along with a few messages that I have left on cell phones that people never received. I sometimes wonder if in the future, all these lost "items" won't show up somewhere.... along with all the socks that have mysteriously made it out of the dryer without my help.

I hope everybody had a wonderful weekend. It's been cold in Atlanta, even though the daffodils have been tricked into budding early because of the unseasonably warm weather we've been having prior to this weekend. We are even expecting snow tomorrow.... which means the city shuts down. Ah, great opportunity to redo that post, and hope it sticks this time.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

state of the union, back to the drawing board......

I had the time, and decided that I needed to watch how the top official described the American future we all have concerns over. Needless to say, I fell asleep towards the end, and missed the finale. It's not that I was bored, but my days start somewhere between 5 and 6 am, and I barely stay awake to watch Law & Order. Anything past 9:30 pm, and I'm nodding off... unless it's the occasional insomniac evening, or I've had a power nap during the day. Tuesday was neither of those. I had planned to look up the speech, re-read it over to chew on the finer points, but was saved the task through Mike's blog: http://25yearplan.blogspot.com . Not only did he link it up, but he put out a fine post on the matter that allowed me to see another point of view.

Of what I did see, I had the immediate feeling that the only substance it consisted of was pure damage control. Not that damage control is a bad thing, and in this case it is a necessary element. It's only too bad it didn't come sooner, and in the first years of the administration.

That said, our little dutch boy at the dam, is now asking for fewer leaks, and plans to put up new bandaids that have an uncertain timespans. Yeah, he said six to ten years... but looked what happened in the past. He has proposed to the American public that we need to become less dependent on oil, and use our technology to develop other resources to meet our energy needs. Bravo.... but wait, I seem to remember Jimmy Carter saying the same thing back in the 70's. We've had 30 long years to do this, what happened to that plan? Carter was laughed out of the arena, and told that every American had a right to keep their thermostats on 75 degrees if they wanted.... this proposal of 68 degrees was preposterous! Gas lines then were a daily chore, as you sat in your car and waited along with everyone else to make it up to the pump. Your best bet was to wait till midnight, find a 24-hour station, and hope everybody else didn't figure our your idea. Prices were outrageous, 79 cents a gallon!... but you drove the new Toyotas, and mileage was a whopping 26 - 35 miles to the gallon.
It seems that the only one really ahead of the game was Willie Nelson, as his tour bus is run on used fryer grease and the like.... and he's been doing it for years. Now our commander in chief wants to have a talk with him. Looks like Willie can use this point to see if the Feds will forgive him on his past tax faux pas'.

Within the first few paragraphs of the speech, Mr. Bush refers to the American democratic system as a party of two. Well, I seem to remember that there was an independent Party, but who's counting right? It might be a issue for me next time I vote, as I am a registered independent. Oh well, I'll deal with that when the time arrives.... but don't think it will be too much of a problem.
Everyone knows that Mr. Bush has a hard time counting anyway.... why do you think Cindy Sheehan had a number pasted on her shirt? But then, Cindy wasn't allowed into the chamber. Fearing that there might be an outburst from her, they ejected her from the chamber before she had a chance to find her seat. That was something that was announced before the address even started. What did they think she was going to do... start a riot? If you wanted to see a real riot in this type of setting, check out the meeting of parties in Georgia, Russia. They were mad enough at each other that chairs went flying, and fists spoke louder than words. I'd like to think that we are a bit more civilized than that, and I was pretty sure she just wanted her "number" to be known.
Along with her ejection came the same fate for a senators wife... although her shirt said "support the troops". As far as I can see, they pretty much had the same message, only Cindy decided to put a number on hers.

Mr. Bush tells us that the only way to secure our position of peace and control for our destiny is to forge ahead, and not fall into the whims of isolation and protectionism. Ok, I can kind of see where he felt he needed to rally us a bit on that, as he has a war he needs to have the American public support.... after all, his ratings with the public (and world) are the lowest of any President so far, and that includes Nixon, who everybody disliked.
He continually likens this to World War II, and this is where he makes a poor analogy. World War II was a defined enemy, with defined countries. We knew Germany was the invader, and that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. Where is the country that all these terrorists live today? Well, they seem to be everywhere: London, Germany, Lebanon, Egypt, etc, etc, etc....... Heck, we even trained the 9/11 "pilots" in Florida and Georgia of our own country. The biggest difference is that they have an agenda, and have slipped into countries becoming sleeper cells, while waiting for the call to arms from bin Laden, who has a movement that will long outlast his life.
If we think we were about to bomb the crap out of Afghanistan or Iraq, and the citizens of those countries would line the streets at their liberation, we were sadly mistaken. There will be no roses thrown from the balconies as they did when we liberated Italy and France. They may be happy that Hussein is out of the picture, after all, his regime was the strong-arm of their terror internally. That will not make them thankful that we did liberate them from such a tyrant.

What we fail to see is that these countries have been fighting this way internally for many generations. Perhaps Mr. Bush is looking to be the one to bring peace to the Middle East once and for all.... ask Jimmy Carter how well it worked for him. During one of his "peace talks" at Camp David, Mr. Carter was so disgusted with both sides, he got up and walked out of the room. Although he did achieve some part of a peace accord, the memories and hard feelings were too deep amongst the actual citizens of these countries. Within years, assisignations, bombings and terror all resumed their natural course for that area. I'm not saying an attempt
isn't worth it, but "shock and awe" might might not be the best tactic unless you want to bomb them all off the face of the earth and start over. In other words, they really know no other way of life, and it will take many generations to reduce the hate.... even if today were the first day they all put their guns down and shook hands with their enemies.
That all said, yes, there have been some progressive moments in the war, but we easily said that during the 60's and Vietnam.... and that didn't end till April 1975 when we were scrambling off the roof of the American embassy building. Once Mr. Bush started this war, he added a heavy burden to the next person to take his office, as this is something that will go on for a long time. Ask Henry Kissenger how easy it is the "shut off a war".

Then there was a brief mention about Katrina.... although my one time saying it here, was one more time than he actually mentioned the word at all. He has pledged 85 million dollars to the area of New Orleans and the Gulf region. I'd like to see the money tree he'll gather that from. This is not to say that the area isn't deserving of it, they most certainly are. They are our populace, and we have a duty as neighbors and fellow citizens to assist them. I'm just not sure from all I've heard that there is money in the budget. Yeah, he wants to eliminate more than 140 programs that are performing poorly, therby saving 14 billion dollars next year and still stay on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009. Whoa..... there's a lot of numbers there, Mr. Bush, please make sure they have their calculators out and pencils sharpened. Measure twice, cut once, as the carpenters say.

There is one area where I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Bush, and that would be the line-item veto. Most of the bills that get passed up to become law have a lot of "pork" in them. In order to gather votes to get bills through, many attachments are padded to the original agenda. We'd like to think they would stand alone, but most don't. A lot of the original bills that get past the committees are attached with "amendments". Not that this is a bad thing altogether, as some things do get overlooked and it is a safety net, but some things are unnecessary and they get attached because it falls in the general area. This is mostly due to save time. Regardless, I think every item needs to be read through on it's own, and weed out the pork that slips through. There must be plenty of it if Mr. Bush counted 14 billion dollars worth so far.

My bottom line opinion is that it is a beautiful speech. Brilliantly written by the speech writers, and everything we'd like to hear if we had a President that we respected right now. We don't. Unfortunately for Mr. Bush, it's what we wanted to hear and see in his first years in office, and this speech was missed by many, even though it aired on all major stations, and then in sound bites on cable. Nobody really cared to hear more rhetoric or what they thought were lies. The track record of this administration is very laughable to the world right now, and that's an embarrassment for our country. We'll get over it, and the world will continue to spin, but I can't help but think how it really must stink being in Mr. Bush's shoes right now.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

tagged by Jin on 8 points to the perfect lover....

Hmmmm..... let's see. When you get to be my age, you tend to worry less about the romance stuff then you do about keeping the mortgage and college tuition payments in on time. That's not to say that romance dies, just that the mountain of life shifts, and you fall into a "comfortable" rather than a "lust" situation. That said, my points are drastically different than when I was in my 20's.

my 40's mind:

1) Being home and cooking a great meal together (he's a chef, I'm a caterer... enough said)

2) Likes to go shopping as much as I do (not a problem with the hubby)

3) Has no problem with getting his hands dirty doing yard work, painting, remodeling, etc.
(again, not a problem in our household)

4) Getting flowers on all the important days, and not so important ones (hubby gets A+)

5) Knows when he is getting good advise, and knows how to smooth me down to see his.

6) Ending the day by sitting on the back porch and chewing the fat or discussing politics.
(nothing like sitting in the garden to solve the world's problems after a busy day)

7) Setting some free time away to sit at Starbuck's and read the Sunday paper.
(we're big fans, and get our Sunday paper on Saturday. Added benefit is that we take their
used coffee grounds for fertilizer in the gardens)

8) Knowing when it's ok to have quiet moments and space without each other.


my 20's mind:

1) Great personality

2) Humorous... but not in a dorky clown sort of way

3) A "people" person

4) intelligent

5) Able to put up with my silly quirks

6) Someone who saw the same picket fence house I did

7) Handy, and able to teach me how to be more handy

8) George Clooney handsome

Needless to say, I'm at the age where comfortable is romantic. There are so many ways to keep romance going, and everyone has their methods. What counts is that both parties develop compromise as it's a situation that will evolve over time, and the relationship will shift here and there to prove it's existence. It's not about changing the other person to fit what you want, it's about acceptance of them, and your ability on how you handle that.

Ok.... enough said on that! I'm about the last person you'd ever want lovelorn advise on.

Now, according to Jin's tag, I must tag 8 other people to do this.... but I'm going to leave it all up to you. Feel free to play along... even if you want to leave it in my comment area.

Y'all have a great day!