Monday, September 26, 2005

C'mon Georgie! Grow a pair!

Today, the President has encouraged Americans to conserve gasoline wherever possible. From the tone of this article, it sounds like he stopped just short of saying "Pretty please, with a cherry on top."

It is a little recognized fact that yours truly is actually Queen of the Universe. I try to keep a low profile. Noblesse Oblige and all that jazz. However, it is time that I fling off my cloak of obscurity and get down to business here.

The Queen of the Universe has issued the following edicts pertaining to energy conservation:

1. All speed limits will now be strictly enforced and fines will be doubled, with the second half of the financial penalty going towards Gulf Coast reconstruction efforts.

2. Anyone caught speeding in an SUV will face quadruple fines.

3. All Hummers will be immediately confiscated and sent to Iraq. The driver has the choice of enlisting and accompanying his/her Hummer to Mesopotamia, or performing ten years of community service by transporting the Queen of the Universe around in a rickshaw. (Doesn't matter if driver of said Hummer was speeding or not. Those beasts just piss me off.)

4. No left turns for fast food. If there's a Burger King on the left and a McD's on the right, you're having a Quarter Pounder goddammit. No more holding up traffic just for the sake of burger preference. You're killing yourself anyway. Get out of my way.

There you go, my loyal subjects. Clear guidance on how to conserve gasoline. That's what leadership is all about. I'm here for you.

Mark your calendar

Today I have officially become a cranky thirty-mumblemumble year old bitch, at least in terms with my relationship with my Alma Mater.

I graduated from Queen's in 1992 with a Bachelor of Nursing Science. I have always been very proud of that accomplishment, even as my nursing career has gone on hiatus in order to attend to the needs of my family.

In those days, tuition wasn't nearly as expensive as it is now, but it still cost a good deal of money to attend Queen's. I worked my butt off, scrubbing toilets and pulling night shifts for a home health care agency to put myself through school. I also studied like a maniac and earned a few scholarships along the way. I have always been grateful for the alumni donations which helped to offset the cost of my degree, and had vowed to return the favour whenever possible.

I've changed my mind. Today, the Queen's sticker is coming off of my car. The actions of a few thousand Queen's students and their friends at Homecoming this past weekend have resulted in the immediate cessation of all financial support from this shamed alumna. Sure, there were a few parties in the ghetto in my day. I didn't have time for that - see previous descriptions of working and studying. But throwing beer bottles at the police? Flipping a car over and then setting it on fire? Blaming the police presence for the mob violence?? These are tomorrow's leaders?? Not on my dime, they aren't.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

I hope that Douglas Adams was right

From The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, chapter 23, paragraph 1:

"It is an important and popular fact that things are not always what they seem. For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much - the wheel, New York, wars and so on - while all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But, conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man - for precisely the same reasons."

Let us all hope that he was right, that dolphins are smarter than us. Let's hope that the allegedly armed, Navy-trained dolphins that are allegedly missing in the Gulf of Mexico following Katrina's wrath are smarter than us and will enjoy their freedom. Let's hope they're smart enough to shake off their toxic dart guns. Let's also hope there aren't any sharks with fricking laser beams attached to their heads swimming about.

Random quasi-related ramblings

There's a little bit of excitement on my normally quiet country road tonight. A couple of police cars are stopped down the road, flashers a-flashing. Someone hit a deer. That's the second time this year that it has happened on this stretch of the road. As my road has become busier and busier, I doubt that it will be the last such incident. It appears that only the deer has been injured. I believe that the wolves at Thompson Park Zoo will be dining on venison tomorrow.

The people involved can consider themselves fortunate. According to this article, there are more than 1.5 million crashes involving deer every year, resulting in over 10,000 human injuries and 150 deaths. I heard somewhere - NPR perhaps - that there are more car versus deer-related deaths every year than there are deaths due to sharks, snakes, dogs and bears combined.

Which leads me to my first rant. My friend Christi is in the process of finding a new hairdresser. (Don't get whiplash, I will get to my point directly.) At her last appointment, Christi encountered a most unpleasant aroma in the home/salon of her stylist. "Don't mind the smell," said the lady with the scissors. "My husband is tanning some coyote hides right now." Umm, that's the last thing you want to say to a vegetarian if you wish to keep her business. It seems that it is literally open season on coyotes in New York state, with no limit on the number which can be killed by anyone with a license and a firearm. Given the problems we already face with an overpopulation of deer, it seems rather stupid to kill off their natural predators, no? Why the f@#k does anyone need to go out and kill scores of coyotes? So they can get a whopping two bucks for each hide? Who the hell wears fur these days anyway? Don't give me that crap about it being c-c-cold in upstate NY. Buy a Columbia parka and let the coyotes keep their own fur coats.

Next rant: people who don't put their children into proper car seats. A few weeks ago, my son and I were invited to a lovely dinner at our friends' house, about a mile up the road from us. Another family was also there. Amongst the topics discussed that evening was food safety. The other mom proclaimed, "my children are forbidden to eat raw cookie dough. I know too much. I can't risk their getting salmonella." A valid point, to be sure. Now, I rarely make cookies, but William is allowed to lick the beaters on those rare occasions that they are used. Miraculously, he has survived these certain brushes with doughy death. This same security mom was gobsmacked when, at the end of the evening, William hopped up into his booster seat and I buckled him in. "But, you're only going a mile!" she marvelled. "It's so strange to put him in the back seat when you're only going a mile!" Mmmm-hmmmm - no cookie dough for your kids, but travelling unsecured at 55 mph on an unlit deer-laden road is okay with you. Riiiiiight.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Autumn leaves quilt. This will be offered on silent auction at my son's school, with the proceeds going towards Gulf Coast hurricane relief. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Monarch migration

My son and I dined outdoors tonight, enjoying vegetables freshly picked from our garden, and watching scores of monarchs settle into the trees for the evening.

It was picture-perfect, and I felt guilty revelling in the Disney-esque moment, knowing that the monster Rita is lumbering towards Texas, sure to unleash yet another catastrophe.

I have read that the birds and animals sensed the impending danger of the impending Boxing Day tsunami and sought higher ground. I also heard that, the day before Katrina made landfall, all of the birds flew away. I hope that the monarchs will sense the impending danger of Rita, and adjust their migration patterns accordingly.

Horrifying predictions

I've been following the blog of a Dr. Jeff Masters on Wunderground. This afternoon's entry is particularly chilling:

"There are two hurricane hunter aircraft in Rita this afternoon. The NOAA hurricane hunters found a central pressure of 934 mb at 11:17 am, and the Air Force hurricane hunters found a central pressure of 923 mb at 1:02pm. This incredible drop of 11 mb in 105 minutes is the fastest pressure fall I can ever recall seeing in a hurricane. Rita is now at or very close to Category 5 status. With an eye diameter of 25 miles, an eyewall replacement cycle is not likely today, and Rita may intensify to a level close to Katrina's strongest point--902 mb."

He goes on to tell us that:

"Texas's luck is about to change. Rita, looking more and more like a nightmare copy of Katrina somehow displaced in time, will make sure of that."

I had the good fortune to visit Houston and Galveston a few times when I lived in Louisiana. At the time, I was embarrassingly ignorant of the history of the region, and had no idea that the charming city of Galveston was nearly wiped out by a hurricane in 1900. Six thousand souls perished then.


The sun rises on the Equinox. Taken shortly after 6 am, September 21st, 2005. Posted by Picasa

The gathering

The monarchs are preparing to migrate. We can usually see a few monarchs at any given time in our yard, as there is a huge supply of milkweed in our back forty. This morning, as I trekked out to the clothesline to hang out the laundry, I was surrounded by dozens and dozens of them. This is the first time I've seen so many congregate in the trees. Perhaps they've done this every year, unbeknownst to me. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

More about the "looting Granny"

Merlene Maten was interviewed on MSNBC's "The Abrams Report." I am glad to see that she is safe. I am infuriated that she will have to go to court. Undoubtedly, the charges will be dropped and her time, and the taxpayer's money, will have been wasted.

If the President has an ounce of sense or an iota of compassion, he will see to it that all charges against Mrs. Maten are dropped immediately. He will ensure that a formal apology is issued, and he will pray that the matter quickly fades from the public's view. Somehow, I doubt that this will happen - Mrs. Maten is not a white woman in a persistant vegetative state, after all.

Quote of the day

"There will be a cloud of smoke above Little Rock soon - of burned food, of anger and of shame that the world's richest nation couldn't organise a p**s up in a brewery and lets Americans starve while they arrogantly observe petty regulations."

First, wankers like Neal Cavuto whined about the lack of foreign aid in the wake of Katrina, even as countries like Canada jumped up and down, offering all manner of assistance. (Condi was too busy buying shoes to notice.)

Now, hundreds of tons of British ration packs, donated at substantial cost to the British taxpayers, are set to be destroyed in an FDA incineration plant. Check out the whole article.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Busy spiders

As the sun burned the morning mist away, it revealed hundreds of spider webs in the field across the road. Picture taken September 19, 2005 in Jefferson County, NY. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Can I have a pony? Pretty please?

This guy is a genius! Screw this South Beach Diet crap. Gimme some of that bread!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Free at last

Merlene Maten has been released from jail.

She still has to go to court in October. What the hell? Do the Louisiana courts really need to confirm their stupidity to the entire world?

I can just picture Barbara Bush saying, "well, she had 2 weeks of free room and board in jail, so (giggle) it worked out very well for her."

Tabernac! I wish I had a hunting license, the appropriate rifle, and the ability to use it! Picture taken this morning from my front lawn. I think that technically, the turkeys were straddling the line between my property and my neighbour's. Ah, it's all abstract anyway. Merde. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Just when I thought I had run out of Katrina-related things to be angry about

They sho'nuff were serious about cracking down on looters. Especially diabetic grandmothers.

Merlene Maten undoubtedly stands out in the prison where she has been held since Hurricane Katrina. The 73-year-old church deaconess, never before in trouble with the law, now sleeps among hardened criminals. Her bail is a stiff $50,000. Her offense? Police say the grandmother from New Orleans took $63.50 in goods from a looted deli the day after Katrina struck.

Family and eyewitnesses have a different story. They say Maten is an innocent woman who had gone to her car to get some sausage to eat but was wrongly handcuffed by tired, frustrated officers who couldn't catch younger looters at a nearby store. Not even the deli owner wants her charged.

Check out the whole story.

I'll keep my laugh lines and not-so-plump lips, thank you

Ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod. This goes so far beyond the ewwww factor.

The British newspaper, The Guardian, is reporting that cosmetic-grade collagen is being harvested from executed prisoners.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Crossing the line

It should come as no shock to anyone when I say that I am not a fan of George W. Bush.

However .. when I saw references on Drudge, Newzjunky, and Daily Kos to a Reuters photo showing GW scribbling a note that said that he needed a bathroom break, I was quite offended. I was not offended by the note, but rather the intrusiveness of the picture and the smarmy, sensationalist tone taken by the press. (No, I won't link to the picture. My astute readers have no doubt already seen it.)

The President is a 59 year old man. Men of his age tend to have prostate troubles. And even Presidents have to go weewee sometimes. Give the man a break.

Some words for Brian Mulroney

Dear Brian:
It's rather shocking that a cocky b@#$^&d smart man like you didn't realize that taped conversations with a renowned political author could one day find their way into print. Here's the Reader's Digest version of how this came to pass:



Sunday, September 11, 2005

I highly recommend ..

March of the Penguins

I took William to see this movie yesterday. It is spectacular. The cinematography is outstanding, and the content is highly informative. The themes of cooperation and collective survival are present, but the viewer is trusted to draw her own conclusions rather than being clobbered over the head with these ideas.

And baby emperor penguins are so darn cute!

Sun Unleashes 5 Major Flares, Earth May Soon Get Pounded - Yahoo! News

It seems that Sunspot #798 has released some major solar flares in the past few days.

The bad news is this: "the sunspot is just rotating into view, so its energy has been directed sideways and not directly at Earth. In coming days, if more major flares erupt, they'll head right at us and radio blackouts, cell phone dropouts and other communications disruptions are more likely."

The good news is that, thanks to two dachshunds who felt that 0230 was a good time to ask to come out of the crate, I was treated to my own private viewing of the Aurora Borealis this morning.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Doxies to go. Leibling and Schotzie are staying with us this weekend. So far, they seem to prefer their own little cocoon. Posted by Picasa

The mist rolls in .. taken tonight at 7:35 pm. While the early morning light is often shrouded in low-lying fog, this is an unusual sight around my house. Posted by Picasa

Titles are inadequate

Just read this.

Then think.

No time for the blame game?

In many circles, it seems that attempts to figure out just what the hell went wrong after Hurricane Katrina did her worst are smacked down with accusations of political posturing and playing the blame game. It is argued that the pointing out of facts does not help the victims of Katrina. I beg to differ.

This article in the Sept. 6th issue of the Salt Lake City Tribune describes how the skills of one thousand firefighters who have volunteered to help with the rescue and recovery efforts are being utilized.

"They've got people here who are search-and-rescue certified, paramedics, haz-mat certified," said a Texas firefighter. It seems to me that these are critical skills, needed right now, while people are still stranded. But these highly trained, altruisitic people are going to ... hand out FEMA flyers.

It can only be hoped that pointing the internet spotlight on such spectacular blunders will force FEMA to correct its course and do its job - namely, using the appropriate resources to save American citizens. That is why it is so critical to speak up now.

Kudos to the mainstream media for finding their backbones. At last.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Quilt of comfort. One of 2 sent to the Quilters Comfort America project, which will distribute quilts to Katrina evacuees at the Astrodome. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

It's coming together

One hundred and fifty 10th Mountain Division soldiers are now assisting in Katrina Relief efforts. They are members of the 4th Brigade Combat Team - which is currently staged at Fort Polk, LA as opposed to Fort Drum.

It's not all bad. Some of it is crazygood.

A Canadian bajillionaire has opened his wallet, rolled up his sleeves, and helped about 300 New Orleans evacuees get a fresh start in Palm Beach.

Frank Stronach has "a vision that involves rich American whites from gated communities opening up to desperately poor American blacks and even includes the construction of a new mobile-home community in Louisiana for more than 300 victims of hurricane Katrina. And so far, he's pulling it off." Check out the whole story.

I'm wondering, how many mobile homes could be set up in Crawford, Texas?

Hat tip to my Mom for this story.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Still obsessed with hurricane coverage

I'm thinking with my fingers here as I am watching continuing coverage from WWL TV. Bush the Elder is talking at a press conference in Houston at this time.
He's standing in front of some sort of panel, emblazened with a swanky logo proclaiming the "Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund". It's very pretty, but I can't help wondering how much it cost to make this backdrop. It seems to me that window dressing for the photo-op is a pretty low priority, and I'm wondering how many blankets, pillows, toothbrushes, and other basic necessities could have been purchased for Katrina survivors with the money spent on this pretty panel.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Be prepared - it's not just for Boy Scouts anymore

Here is the story of how West Jefferson Medical Center, just outside New Orleans, stayed up and running over the past week. The Reader's Digest version is this:

(D)espite the hardships, the 463-bed hospital hasn’t yet lost a single patient in the harsh conditions. The staff managed to get water trucked in and served regular meals throughout the crisis by cobbling together a supply system of donations from local businesses to compensate for a debilitating lack of government help. In the end, West Jeff wove a private safety net in the midst of a public disaster.

Comfortably ensconced in my safe, dry home, thousands of miles away from Louisiana, it is not my place to criticize anyone involved in the rescue efforts. It is abundantly clear to me, however, that we cannot and should not rely primarily on FEMA or any other bureaucratic behemoth to preserve us on an individual level. It is our civic duty to be cognizant of the potential environmental risks that are native to our own ecospheres, and to prepare accordingly. For my family, I believe the big risks looming are a blizzard or ice storm, and a flu pandemic.

It is National Preparedness month. Here is a printable Emergency Supply Kit checklist. We will be adding N95 masks to our kit.

And a Kanye West CD.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Wal-Mart Commits Additional $15 Million to Katrina Relief

We went to our local Walmart on Monday morning to pick up the last of William's school supplies. This was before the levees broke, and obviously before the true magnitude of the disaster was known. At that point in time, Walmart had already donated one million dollars to the Salvation Army, and they were collecting contributions in their store. Simultaneously, Bush was eating cake. The next day, as the levees broke, he was pretending to play guitar. Nero, Marie Antoinette .. we report, you decide.
Now, Walmart has stepped up with an additional $15 million in aid. Mini-stores will be set up in the affected areas to distribute food, formula, diapers, etc free of charge to those who have a "demonstrated need."
Glad there's some leadership somewhere.

Leadership in a time of dire need

I tend to self-censor on my blog. I have some strong opinions on certain topics, like Iraq and the Commander-in-Chief, but I usually refrain from expressing them here. I am guided by the Italian idiom, "non sputtare sulla tuo piatto." (Don't spit on your plate.)
If you know me in real life, you surely know my views. If you are a virtual friend with an opposing standpoint, my opinion is unlikely to change yours.
Today, however, I am unable to restrain myself after reading about Bush's statement on GMA this morning: "I don't think anyone expected the breaches of the levees."
My response to the Commander in Chief is laced with obscenities, so I will defer to General Wesley Clark's blog piece about the President's leadership, or lack thereof, in this catastrophe. Please read it, and click through on all the links.