Monday, April 19, 2004

My Horoscope For Today

Talk whenever you find a receptive ear. Listen to someone with an interesting point or the need to unload. Learn from the world around you, gamely taking whatever tests it throws your way. Teach a few lessons of your own if you're among those who will benefit from the instruction. Thanks to a helpful push from the stars, your legendary communication energy is flowing in both directions. With open circuits and charged batteries, you're ready to generate something truly spectacular. The next ten days promise to be major milestones in your personal history. Just imagine what you can do next.
- By

Now this is interesting. I've been thinking about taking a break from blogging until the end of the month and my horoscope today says, The next ten days promise to be major milestones in your personal history. Well, I'll be back on May 1st to let you know if anything major happened. Take care everyone.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Taking Apart Bush's Speech

I'm still thinking about Bush's speech and trying to figure out why is it was so disturbing to me. The fact that it wasn't a press conference but a campaign speech? The man did not answer a single question put to him. He did talk around whatever he was asked but he never answered the questions.

Was is because he keep insisting that he did not know that terrorist were going to fly airplanes into the World Trade Center? Every time he said that I though why? What was he not saying? That they did know terrorists were planning to hijack aircraft but did nothing to make it harder for such a thing to happen because they did not expect them to fly the planes into building?

Was it because the man used the word "historic" three times?

-"A secure and free Iraq is an historic opportunity to change the world and make American more secure."

-"I also know that there's an historic opportunity here to change the world."

-"Now is the time to make sure that the American people understand the stakes and the historic significance of what we are doing."

Notice he used the phrase "historic opportunity to change the world" twice. Is this a man who wants to leave his mark on the world? A man who wants to go down in history as someone who changed the world?

Well, William Saletan hits the nail on the head about Bush's use of words.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Another Sign Of Spring

We put the window awnings up.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Razzle Dazzle 'Em (Thoughts on President Bush's Speech)

Give 'em the old razzle dazzle
Razzle Dazzle 'em
Give 'em an act with lots of flash in it
And the reaction will be passionate
Give 'em the old hocus pocus
Bead and feather 'em
How can they see with sequins in their eyes?

What if your hinges all are rusting?
What if, in fact, you're just disgusting?
Razzle dazzle 'em
And they'll never catch wise!

Give 'em the old
Razzle dazzle 'em
Give 'em a show that's so splendiferous
Row after row will crow vociferous
Give 'em the old flim flam flummox
Fool and fracture 'em
How can they hear the truth above the roar?

Throw 'em a fake and a finagle
They'll never know you're just a bagel,
Razzle dazzle 'em
And they'll beg you for more!

Give 'em the old razzle dazzle
Razzle Dazzle 'em
Back since the days of old Methuselah
Everyone loves the big bambooz-a-ler

Give 'em the old three ring circus
Stun and stagger 'em
When you're in trouble, go into your dance

Though you are stiffer than a girder
They let you get away with murder
Razzle dazzle 'em
And you've got a romance

Give 'em the old
Razzle Dazzle
Razzle dazzle 'em
Give 'em an act that's unassailable
They'll wait a year 'till you're available!

Give 'em the old
Double whammy
Daze and dizzy'em
Show 'em the first rate sorcerer you are
Long as you keep 'em way off balance
How can they spot you got no talents?

Razzle dazzle 'em
Razzle dazzle 'em
Razzle dazzle 'em
And they'll make you a star!
(From the musical Chicago written by Kander and Ebb)

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

"Civilian Contractors"

One thing that has come out of the uprising in Iraq last week is the information that the Department of Defense (DOD) is using "civilian contractors" to cover assignments the military does not see as part of their "core mission" of fighting the war. So "civilian contractors" are actually soldiers in a civilian army consisting of ex-members of the Navy Seals and Army Special Forces-mercenaries paid by the government. Mercenaries- who don't have to follow military orders. Mercenaries-who's actions are not subject to military law. Mercenaries-who can go home any time they want.

Estimates on how many security contractors are in Iraq is around 4,000 men. The Bush administration sees using these men as a way of keeping down the cost of the war. Now the average pay for one of these contractors is $100,000 a year, two to 10 times more than the military is willing to pay them. Four thousand men times $100,000 equals $400,000,000. Since March of 2002 the cost of using civilian contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan has been more than 12 billion dollars. Just how is this saving us money?

Others seen the Bush administration's use of contractors as a way for the president and his men to get around the congressional limit on the number of troops that were sent to Iraq a year ago. Some members of Congress see it this way too and have sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld asking about, "private armies operating outside the control of governmental authority." Even money that Rumsfeld blows them off.

All of this is another example of how Bush and the people around him think that what they want is the best for all, even if no one else agrees with them. Can't get as many troops sent to Iraq as you want? Hire a private army.

Can't get your drug legislation passed because the cost is to high? Lie about it to congress and then after the bill is passed say, "Oh, wait, we were wrong. It's going to cost more."

Don't like what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's 2003 Report on the Environment said about global warming? Have that section removed. Ignore or suppress other findings that affect the environment because they don't agree with your political agenda either.

Want to punish a former U.S. ambassador who is critical of one of your decisions? Have someone in your office leak the fact that the man's wife is a CIA agent, endangering anyone she has been in contact with overseas. Do nothing to find out who the person was even though what that person did is a federal crime and you agreed to cooperate with a Judicial Department investigation.

The arrogance of this administration is appalling.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Raw Toast, Buffalo Grass, Doggie Tails, Hot Dogs, Elton John, And Snow

- I had my niece visiting during part of her Spring break last week. The first morning she was here she put two pieces of bread in the toaster and pushed the toaster bar down. A few minutes later the bread popped up untoasted. I wondered if the toaster was broken but found my niece had set it at about -2 because she does not like her bread toasted, she only wants the bread a little crispy on the outside-raw toast.

-When we bought our house one of the first things we did was remove the 'regular' grass and replace it with buffalo grass. It's growing early this year and last week, the morning after it had rained a bit, I went outside and it looked like someone had lightly colored the lawn with a green Crayola crayon. I love Spring.

-The other day I walked into the living room and found the dogs lying on the floor sleeping. Kate got up when I came in and walked over to me for a little attention. I started petting her and telling her what a good dog she was when I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. I looked over at Emma and her tail was wagging. She was listening to me and just knew I was talking about her. Why can't people be like that? We sometimes have trouble hearing the good things that are said directly to our faces.

-A friend's mother had her freezer full of meat accidentally unplugged for about three weeks before she noticed it. Now three years later my husband has cleaned it out for her. Nobody else was willing to do it before now. It smelled as bad as you think it would and some of the meat had decomposed to a quivering gelatinous mass. Other pieces still had a solid shape but felt spongy. The rest had decomposed into a soupy liquid mixture that filled the bottom two inches of the freezer. Guess what? This isn't the gross part. The gross part is that the packages of hot dogs were pristine. They looked as if they were ready to go on the grill.

I know you vegetarians are feeling pretty happy about your decision not to eat meat at this point. And I know you omnivores are thinking, "Damn, I should stop eating meat."...... Naah, no you're not.

-I watched the movie Sliding Doors Saturday. Sometimes I had trouble understanding what John Hanna was saying because of his accent so I had the captions turned on. In one scene Elton John's Bennie and the Jets is playing on a boom box. For the lyrics, "She's got electric boots, a mohair suit," they wrote, "She's got electric boobs, a mohair suit." I'm sure a lot of people think that is what Elton is singing.

-It snowed last night. Six inches of it on the ground this morning. I do love Spring.

Friday, April 09, 2004

The Windows Of The World

The windows of the world are covered with rain,
Where is the sunshine we once knew?
Ev'rybody knows
When little children play
They need a sunny day
To grow straight and tall.
Let the sun shine through.

The windows of the world are covered with rain,
When will those black skies turn to blue?
Ev'rybody knows
When boys grow into men
They start to wonder when
Their country will call.
Let the sun shine through.

The windows of the world are covered with rain,
What is the whole world coming to?
Ev'rybody knows
When men can not be friends
Their quarrel often ends
Where some have to die.
Let the sun shine through.

The windows of the world are covered with rain,
There must be something we can do.
Ev'rybody knows
Whenever rain appears
It's really angel tears.
How long must they cry?
Let the sun shine through.

Song by Burt Bacharach and Hal David

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Random Thoughts

-Last weekend the Passion of the Christ was shown at the town movie theater and did a full-house business. I find this confusing since it is an R rated movie. R rated movies do not do well in this town. When we showed Chicago a group of older ladies walked out of it because it was "dirty." But this movie? A packed house. Even people who will not normally let their children seen any movie rated above a G were sending their children to see Passion. Well, you know what they say about giving the people what they want. I guess people here want a horrific sadomasochistic film about a man who willingly lets himself be tortured to death.

We will be showing the film again this Easter weekend. I bet we turn people away.

-After the uprising and killings in Iraq this week I read in the paper that the generals running this fiasco are saying that we need to send more soldiers over to Iraq to help end this mess. Funny, that's how we slowly got sucked into that quicksand we called the Vietnam War. Day by day, inch by inch, soldier by soldier. Well, if we are going to follow that path again we might as well pull out some of those old anti-war songs. Here is one to get you started. We can change the who, what, and where later.

I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag
Yeah, come on all of you, big strong men,
Uncle Sam needs your help again.
He's got himself in a terrible jam
Way down yonder in Vietnam
So put down your books and pick up a gun,
We're gonna have a whole lotta fun.

And it's one, two, three,
What are we fighting for?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam;
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we're all gonna die.

Well, come on generals, let's move fast;
Your big chance has come at last.
Gotta go out and get those reds,
The only good commie is the one who's dead
And you know that peace can only be won
When we've blown 'em all to kingdom come.

And it's one, two, three,
What are we fighting for?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam;
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why
Whoopee! we're all gonna die.


Well, come on Wall Street, don't move slow,
Why man, this is war au-go-go.
There's plenty good money to be made
By supplying the Army with the tools of the trade,
Just hope and pray that if they drop the bomb,
They drop it on the Viet Cong.

And it's one, two, three,
What are we fighting for?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam.
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why
Whoopee! we're all gonna die.

Well, come on mothers throughout the land,
Pack your boys off to Vietnam.
Come on fathers, don't hesitate,
Send 'em off before it's too late.
Be the first one on your block
To have your boy come home in a box.

And it's one, two, three
What are we fighting for?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam.
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we're all gonna die.

sung by Country Joe and the Fish.

(God, am I in a mood today.)

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Its Spring

My ornamental pear trees are blooming and spreading the aroma of fish cooking across the yard, the dogs have brought the first ticks of the season home with them from their morning walk, the turkey buzzards are back and making hugh lazy circles in the sky overhead, and all I want to do is sit on the front porch and bask in the sun.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Small Rant

I live in a small town that has a small library and so it is not unusual for the library not to have a book I am interested in. Since Kansas is full of small towns the state has a Interlibrary Loan System (ILS). If you want a book that your library does not have you send a request through ILS and they will find the book at another in state library and then mail it to your library. It works well.

I just received a copy of A History Of God by Karen Armstrong and am peeved to find out someone before me has marked up the book. Pages and pages of sentences and paragraphs highlighted with blue and pink markers and a few comments written in ink in the margins on some pages. What kind of moron defaces a library book like this? Who wasn't taught by their mother as a child not to write in books, especially books that do not belong to you.

Since the book came from a college library I've a sneaky suspicion that some student decided to save money and use the library copy of a book that was required reading is some class. I say to that student fine, but that does not give you the right to deface the book. Do you know how hard it is to read a page that has almost every line of type underlined in dayglow blue? Do you know how hard it is to concentrate on the written words when there does not seem to be any rhyme or reason for the words to be highlighted?

Highlighting is a study technique for lazy people that doesn't really work. The following excerpt is from a paper, How To Study, put out by the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the State University of New York at Buffalo. In this passage the author talks about active reading, reading to understand :

There are some other tricks for active reading. One, of course, is to highlight important or interesting passages. There are several ways to do this. The worst is to use a yellow highlighting marker (or hot pink, or whatever color you like). The main problem with this is that you will tend to find almost every sentence to be important or interesting. As a consequence, every page will become yellow (or hot pink, or whatever). Not only does this defeat the purpose of highlighting--because if everything has been highlighted, then really nothing has been!--but the pages of your text will become damp, curl up, and be generally messy.

Yep, that's what looks like happened to this book. The author goes on to say:

You should also make notes in the margin of the text (if there's room, and if the text belongs to you.

In other words, don't write in books that do not belong to you. Instead of highlighting willy-nilly he suggests the following:

The best technique for active reading is to keep a notebook. In addition to (or instead of) highlighting a passage, copy it--verbatim--into your notebook. Be sure to begin your notebook with a full citation to the text for use in a bibliography, and be sure to write down the page numbers of each passage that you copy. Then, write down--at length and in detail--your comments on the passage.

So the next time you use a library book as a text don't act like such a putz. Get a notebook and copy down what you think is important. I'm sure you will not have the impulse to copy everything you read and will learn to distinguish between just what is important and what is not.