Sunday, December 31, 2006

Oh, fer Chri -ssssssssssss - sake!

Do I even need to write in complete sentences?

Burmese Python + Florida + Taser.

Albino Python + Florida + Left in closet. Well, credit where credit is due - at least this one wasn't dumped in the Everglades.

Burmese Pythons belong in Burma.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Could you be this forgiving?

A few days ago, a family from Pickering, Ontario, was literally torn apart by a drunk driver.

The St-Denis family had embarked upon a long-awaited and well deserved trip to Florida. They made it as far as Bedford, Pennsylvania, but a drunk in a truck, travelling the wrong way on the interstate, plowed into their minivan. Three members of the family were killed. Only the mother and one adult daughter survived.

Angela St-Denis has forgiven the man who killed her husband and two of her children. She said:

He's a human being. He made a mistake. All I want now is that he never get behind the wheel of a car again.

I wish I could be as noble as Mrs. St-Denis. I would want the driver to be imprisoned for life, with the picture of the family he killed tattooed on his forehead. As far as I'm concerned, he is a murderer.

According for the Centers for Disease Control, 16,885 people in the U.S. died in alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes in 2005. That's almost 6 times as many victims as the 9/11 attacks. There is absolutely no excuse for drinking and driving. Stay home, take a cab, or abstain from alcohol. Why can't people grasp this simple idea? Why isn't there a "war" on drunk drivers? What will it take to end the carnage?

Monday, December 25, 2006

This is wrong on so many levels but I think I like it anyway

Look at this tenacious little dandelion, popping out to say Merry Christmas, Jefferson County!

It wasn't a white Christmas. It was a green and yellow Christmas. I can't say that I minded, really. After the presents were opened, I enjoyed a brisk and refreshing walk with my four-legged personal trainer.

Then I hung a load of laundry outside.

And watched the chickadees as they gathered a few more sunflower seeds for their winter stash.

Soon, there will be snow. Lots and lots of it, I'm sure.

But perhaps this White Christmas business is just a little overrated.


Fortunately, the chasmosaurus was a herbivore.

Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa

Sunday, December 24, 2006

I want to talk about this, but I don't know what to say

On December 27th, at 9 pm ET/PT, PBS will air a Prime-Time Muppets Special entitled, When Parents Are Deployed. It's aimed at the under-five set - a half-million of whom are waiting for a parent to return from an overseas deployment. That's the largest number since WWII. For many of these little children, particularly those whose parent(s) are Active Duty soldiers on their 2nd or 3rd or 4th tour of Iraq/Afghanistan, this is the only life they've ever known.

My friend M, who teaches at a primary school in this military community, tells me that they are seeing a "difference" in this year's kindergarten cohort. These are the kids who were born in 2001. Their lives are defined by OIF/OEF, by the relentless operation tempo that these deployments demand, by departures and arrivals, and by oceans of tears in between.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


A 48 year old Cincinatti man was strangled by his 4 metre long, pet boa constrictor.

I respect snakes. Around here, there are only garter snakes. My son and I have spent a great deal of time observing these elusive inhabitants of our "back forty." They're actually very pretty, harmless except in self-defense, and incredibly important to the ecosystem. But we don't touch them, and we would never consider taking one out of its habitat and placing it in a glass prison inside our home.

I cannot understand the mentality of someone who would "adopt" a snake, particularly a constrictor. Little Ray's Reptile Zoo in Ottawa is filled to capacity with rescued reptiles - the poor unfortunate creatures who were "adopted" and then abandoned when the reality of owning a large, dangerous animal set in. The delicately balanced ecosystem of the Everglades is being thrown into disarray as a result of a thriving population of Burmese Pythons. No, Burmese Pythons are not native to Florida, but a significant number of former "pets" have been released into the swamp. Having no natural predators in that ecosystem, the population has begun to breed in the wild, and threatens many other species.

Seriously, what is wrong with people?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Whither Zebastian?

Zebastian the Zebra is missing.

No ordinary zebra, Zebastian is brown with black stripes. He disappeared from his pasture in Carrot Creek, Alberta, last week.

The story is strange enough on its own merits, but I have my own special, six degrees of separation spin on it.

I actually know someone who lives in the tiny hamlet of Carrot Creek. A few months ago, an old friend contacted me through Di-Anne has always lived the life of a gypsy, and at this point on her journey, she finds herself in .. wait for it .. Carrot Creek, AB.

It's a small world after all .. but not so small that one cannot lose a zebra in it.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Look good in a bikini, save the planet?

A Norwegian businessman wants your love handles.

I can't paraphrase this, so I'll just cut and paste and credit the afore-linked article.

Lauri Venøy wants to use the product created from liposuction to develop bio-diesel.

Bio-diesel can be produced from plant oils and/or animal fat, and the Norwegian sees the scheme as a renewable energy source, newspaper Dagens Nærinsgliv reports.

More than sixty percent of Americans are overweight and the Norwegian's firm in Miami, Florida is in the process of signing an agreement with US hospital giant Jackson Memorial. This deal would give Venøy & Co. around 11,500 liters of human fat a week from liposuction operations, which is enough to produce about 10,000 liters of bio-diesel.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Winter emergency preparations are now complete

Power to the people! After six long years of begging petitioning Nestle to make Coffee Crisp available to the people of the United States of America, the folks at have achieved success! Coffee Crisp bars are now available at Dollar Tree Stores AND from the vending machine at my husband's office AND from the vending machine at the F.X. Caprara Volkswagen Dealership on Outer Washington Street, Watertown.

AND - Jeff Dem will be pleased to learn that Coffee Crisp bars contain no trans fats.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Manhattan: Same state, different planet

I am bemused to note that the two most popular e-mailed stories from today's New York Times hail from the Fashion & Style section. I had read both pieces earlier today, and have been mentally composing blog entries about them all day. In regards to the first article, Woman's Best Friend, or Fashion Accessory? I must ask, what would Cesar Millan say about these toy dogs who are toted around Manhattan in designer purses, dressed in the same haute couture as their humans? Evidently, Cesar's opinion was not solicited, but other trainers "point out that pets are not accessories, and treating them like prize possessions, no matter how well meaning, can deprive an animal of what it needs. 'Socialization, training and exercise are paramount,' said Bash Dibra, a trainer based in New York. 'Otherwise you have a problem.' An overly coddled dog can become territorial and aggressive, Mr. Dibra said. 'Sometimes the dog goes into a rage. It’s not a happy situation.' ”

The second article is about fashion victims - literally! It seems that Manhattan's doctors, chiropractors and massage therapists are working overtime, dealing with back and shoulder injuries caused by the ubiquitous oversized handbags that the fashionistas insist upon toting. While chiropractic adjustments and deep tissue massage seems to temporarily alleviate the pain, the brain damage caused by these gaudy and overpriced satchels appears to be permanent. One massage therapist says that she doesn't bother to advise her clients to stop trying to tote the kitchen sink all over TriBeCa. “It’s like telling a woman, ‘You cannot wear Manolo Blahniks,’ ” she said. “It’s just not realistic.”

Huh? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. One woman even boasts that she has had MRI's and cortisone shots to offset the physical damage caused by her oversized Chanel Tote.

I apologize for the clunkiness of this post. I'm having difficulty because I just don't understand these women. It's hard to believe that Manhattan is only a few hours away from here. It sounds like it's a whole other planet.

Should I be worried?

I see that my blog has had a visitor from the US House of Representatives. Welcome, welcome! Would you like a cup of tea? A cranberry muffin, perhaps? I'm afraid that this humble hausfrau can offer nothing else of great interest or import. So, get back to work, civil servant!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

It's, like, hard to be a Congress Critter ..

.. especially now that the work week will stretch out to nearly five days!

Poor, poor Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga) was accustomed to flying into DC on Tuesdays, and going back home on Thursdays. Now, he'll have to be in DC by 18:30 on Mondays, and will have to keep working right up until 14:00 on Friday afternoons. He laments that "keeping us here eats away at families. Marriages suffer. The Democrats don't care about families -- that's what this says."

Mr. Kingston, I double-dog-dare you to visit a military community and whine to us about professional duties eating into your family time. For bonus points, go ahead and try out your whiny rant at Fort Wainwright, home of the 172nd Stryker Brigade, who is only now returning from sixteen months, boots on the ground in Iraq.

If Fairbanks, Alaska, is a little too far for you to travel, may I suggest a quick jaunt up Georgia Avenue NW to Walter Reed Army Medical Center? Take a look around, if you can stand it. Then get your priorities in order, and get back to work.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Kickin' it, homeschool style

What homeschoolers do on a snow day, while everyone else is waiting for superintendents to decide between a two hour delay and cancellation of classes in accordance with the "no unnecessary travel" advisory from the sheriff's department.

Friday, December 01, 2006

The joys of simplicity

If you know me in real life, you may be shocked to learn that sometimes I make things more complicated than they need to be.

Case in point: salt. Basic, elemental sodium chloride.

Last Christmas, my sister-in-law gave me a lovely gift pack of various exotic sea salt crystals. It has remained intact and unused for 11 months because I didn't have a salt grinder and couldn't find one that met my standards of form, function and frugality. Not even at IKEA.

Tonight, it finally occured to me that I could simply place a small amount of sea salt on my cutting board and crush it with my rolling pin. Don't worry. I've already smacked my forehead repeatedly.

I combined some Brazilian Sea Salt with a touch of Rosemary Garlic Seasoning and sprinkled it on lamb chops*, which were drizzled with olive oil and then baked at 400F for about 10 minutes.**
My son, who until recently was a very light eater, devoured this dish. He paused only to rub his belly and say "MMMMMM!"

La Vita è bella.

*locally raised and absolutely delicious!

**Don't quote me on that, always use a meat thermometer and not the timer to assess the doneness of your food.