Tuesday, May 31, 2005

And What Did You Do This Memorial Day Weekend?

Just back from a long Memorial Day weekend in Denver. We did all the usual things; hung out with family, grilled up hamburgers and hot dogs, watched the Indy 500, talked about the Boulder Boulder, and went shopping.

For unexpected weirdness my dog Kate started walking around with her hind quarters kind of hunched up Saturday. We thought she had an infected scent gland but the vet we took her to said that wasn't the problem. He thought it was either a broken or sprained tail. A dog breaking her tail is like a human breaking her little toe so there was nothing he could do but up her pain medication for a few days. We still had not figured out how Kate could have broken her tail right up to the moment Duke came racing up to me and jammed his snout into the side of my leg. Not only did it hurt it almost bowled me over. Mystery of broken tail solved.

The Indy 500 was interesting this year because for the first time since Janet Guthrie raced in 1979 a woman, Danica Patrick, participated. Robby Gordon, president of the NASCAR chapter of the He-man Women Haters Club, complained that Patrick had an unfair advantage over the male racers because she only weighted 100 pounds. In a I'm going to take my ball and go home moment he went on to say, "I won't race against her until the IRL does something to take that advantage away."

I must point out that the weight differences of the drivers has never come up in a race before this. I must also point out that Danica Patrick finished fourth yesterday and was named Rookie of the Year. And I must point out that Dan Wheldon, a Brit, won the race. The first time a Brit has won the Indy 500 since the late Graham Hill did it in 1966. I wonder how many people are bitching about that too.

Gordon takes it all back.
He also wins Whine Of The Week from NBC Sports.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Pain Is Inevitable...

Suffering is Optional.
-Zen Aphorism

Yesterday I woke up with a migraine and was out of commission most of the day. This morning I woke up feeling pretty good so what did I think was a good thing to do first thing this morning? That's right, get my shotgun out and go shooting. My husband had the gun repaired a couple of weeks ago and has wanted me to take it out and test it so we went up to the gun club.

I nailed the first clay pigeon. I also did the following:

1. It had been so long since I've fired a shotgun I forgot two important things;
a. To make sure to hold the gun butt solidly against my shoulder when I pulled the trigger.
b. To put my face to the gun to at the same time.

2. When I forgot both, two things happened;
a. The recoil of the blast slammed the gun butt into my shoulder.
b. The recoil of the blast caused the stock of the gun (which my cheek should have been snuggled up against but wasn't) to slap me on the right side of the face.

Now, why doing these two things are bad:
1. Doing either one hurts.
2. I had a migraine yesterday.

You think I would have stopped at this point wouldn't you? You would be wrong. I shot once more making sure to put the gun butt securely in the crook of my shoulder and my face on the gun stock when I fired. It still hurt but not as bad as before plus I nailed the pigeon again. So I kept shooting and each time I fired the pain got less and less. By the time we finished the pain intensity I felt was just a faint echo of yesterday's headache.

I think I've found a new treatment for migraines.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

How Long Can We Keep Referring To Ourselves as "The Good Guys"?

From the Downing Street Memo website:

Text of the Downing Street Memo - a document containing meeting minutes transcribed during the British Prime Minister's meeting on July 23, 2002

• As originally reported in the The Times of London, May 1, 2005


From: Matthew Rycroft
Date: 23 July 2002
S 195 /02

cc: Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Attorney-General, Sir Richard Wilson, John Scarlett, Francis Richards, CDS, C, Jonathan Powell, Sally Morgan, Alastair Campbell


Copy addressees and you met the Prime Minister on 23 July to discuss Iraq.

This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its contents.

John Scarlett summarised the intelligence and latest JIC assessment. Saddam's regime was tough and based on extreme fear. The only way to overthrow it was likely to be by massive military action. Saddam was worried and expected an attack, probably by air and land, but he was not convinced that it would be immediate or overwhelming. His regime expected their neighbours to line up with the US. Saddam knew that regular army morale was poor. Real support for Saddam among the public was probably narrowly based.

C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.

CDS said that military planners would brief CENTCOM on 1-2 August, Rumsfeld on 3 August and Bush on 4 August.

The two broad US options were:

(a) Generated Start. A slow build-up of 250,000 US troops, a short (72 hour) air campaign, then a move up to Baghdad from the south. Lead time of 90 days (30 days preparation plus 60 days deployment to Kuwait).

(b) Running Start. Use forces already in theatre (3 x 6,000), continuous air campaign, initiated by an Iraqi casus belli. Total lead time of 60 days with the air campaign beginning even earlier. A hazardous option.

The US saw the UK (and Kuwait) as essential, with basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus critical for either option. Turkey and other Gulf states were also important, but less vital. The three main options for UK involvement were:

(i) Basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus, plus three SF squadrons.

(ii) As above, with maritime and air assets in addition.

(iii) As above, plus a land contribution of up to 40,000, perhaps with a discrete role in Northern Iraq entering from Turkey, tying down two Iraqi divisions.

The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime. No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections.
The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case. Relying on UNSCR 1205 of three years ago would be difficult. The situation might of course change.

The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors. Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD. There were different strategies for dealing with Libya and Iran. If the political context were right, people would support regime change. The two key issues were whether the military plan worked and whether we had the political strategy to give the military plan the space to work.

On the first, CDS said that we did not know yet if the US battleplan was workable. The military were continuing to ask lots of questions.

For instance, what were the consequences, if Saddam used WMD on day one, or if Baghdad did not collapse and urban warfighting began? You said that Saddam could also use his WMD on Kuwait. Or on Israel, added the Defence Secretary.

The Foreign Secretary thought the US would not go ahead with a military plan unless convinced that it was a winning strategy. On this, US and UK interests converged. But on the political strategy, there could be US/UK differences. Despite US resistance, we should explore discreetly the ultimatum. Saddam would continue to play hard-ball with the UN.

John Scarlett assessed that Saddam would allow the inspectors back in only when he thought the threat of military action was real.

The Defence Secretary said that if the Prime Minister wanted UK military involvement, he would need to decide this early. He cautioned that many in the US did not think it worth going down the ultimatum route. It would be important for the Prime Minister to set out the political context to Bush.


(a) We should work on the assumption that the UK would take part in any military action. But we needed a fuller picture of US planning before we could take any firm decisions. CDS should tell the US military that we were considering a range of options.

(b) The Prime Minister would revert on the question of whether funds could be spent in preparation for this operation.

(c) CDS would send the Prime Minister full details of the proposed military campaign and possible UK contributions by the end of the week.

(d) The Foreign Secretary would send the Prime Minister the background on the UN inspectors, and discreetly work up the ultimatum to Saddam.

He would also send the Prime Minister advice on the positions of countries in the region especially Turkey, and of the key EU member states.

(e) John Scarlett would send the Prime Minister a full intelligence update.

(f) We must not ignore the legal issues: the Attorney-General would consider legal advice with FCO/MOD legal advisers.

(I have written separately to commission this follow-up work.)


(Rycroft was a Downing Street foreign policy aide)

From the US Marines website:

Haditha Dam, Al Anbar, Iraq - The 'New Testament' a tank with 4th Tank Co., 1st Tank battalion attached to 3/25 prepares to lead the way during a recent mission

Monday, May 23, 2005

You Are Sleepy...Very Sleepy

Got up this morning at six, went back to bed at eight, and got up again at eleven. My allergies are acting up big time. Right now I feel like I am channeling four of the seven dwarfs; Sleepy, Dopey, Sneezy, and sometimes Grumpy. Last night I went to bed at 700PM and then was woken up around four in the morning by Duke when he gave out one loud howl that sounded like,"NooOOOOOooooOOOO!"

This is the third time he has done this since we got him and it scares the heck out of me each time I hear it. I bolted out of bed and found him sitting on his sleep pad with a dazed look on his face. I went and sat down by him for a few minutes and he cuddled up against me and then fell back asleep. I then went back to bed but it took me what felt like a very long time to get back to sleep. Anyway between that and the allergies I think I will be going to bed by 700PM again tonight.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Friday Random Ten

New game (for me), set your MP3 player on random and list the first ten that play.

01. Scott Joplin -The Entertainer
02. Louis Armstrong -You Go To My Head
03. How's Bayou -'Tit Gallop Pour la Pointe aux Pins
04. Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra -Largo e Spiccato
05. Duke Levine -Out Of Business
06. John Lennon -Mind Games
07. Jimi Hendrix Experience -Foxey Lady
08. The Mammas & The Pappas -California Dreamin'
09. Bobby Hebb -Sunny
10. BR5-49 -Even If It's Wrong

Your Tax Dollars At Work

Millions of state dollars to help the disabled get work are going to India, and the irony doesn't slip by local jobless IT workers.
-Denver Post May 20, 2005

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Awnings Are Up

Now I have to mow the lawn.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Three Sheets To The Wind

Got back from a weekend in Denver last night and still catching up on things here at home. My sister had a house warming party Sunday and we spent Friday, Saturday, and part of Sunday getting everything ready for it. We put rock down in some areas that had dirt showing and large cedar chips in other areas under the pine trees. My brother-in-law set up a horseshoe pit and mowed the lawn. I laid out a croquet game for the children. We set chairs out on the patio and my husband put up the pool cue holder next to the new pool table in the family room. The party started at 300PM and the last person did not go home until midnight. About 50 people were in and out of the house during that time period. One child cried when it was time for him to go home, he just didn't want to leave because he was having so much fun.

I did a little drinking and paid for it yesterday. I was not hung over just very tired. I am not bragging but I've never had a hang over in my life and I think it is because my body consumes the alcohol as I sleep. As usual I woke up in the middle of the night burning up with a fever and covered in a sheen of perspiration but by morning I was feeling find.

Driving home was not fun since the wind was blowing hard and I had to pull the steering wheel a little to the right to keep the car heading straight. That wind was blowing today but I welcomed it because I did laundry and then hung it all on the line to dry. I love hanging laundry on the line. Nothing is more satisfying that to look out and see a line of sheets snapping in the wind. Line dried sheets have a wonderful smell too. Its the smell of sunshine and fresh air. I am looking forward to sleeping on those same sheets tonight.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Dream Survey Results

Humm, don't know if we can interpret very much from the answers so far. We have one man who said he dreams in color, two women who say they dream in color, one man and one woman who doesn't know what color their dreams are, and one woman who made fun of my husband instead of answering the question. (But isn't that what sister-in-laws are for?) The only thing we have learned is that not all men dream in black-and-white. We need more answers so I'm asking you to ask others around you if their dreams are in color or black-and-white. Ask your significant other, ask your children, ask your co-workers, ask your parents-heck, ask people you stop on the street. We need more data!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Small Town Life

While running the dogs south of town this morning my husband came across the remains of a Ford Escape which had been driven into a telephone pole. The front end of the vehicle had been smashed in and windshield shattered. I don't know how fast it had been going at the time of the accident but the pole it hit snapped into two pieces on impact. This is the story my husband told me when he got back home.

A little while ago a family from Colorado moved into town and bought some land right near the highway. On that land they placed a trailer home. Since a trailer home is the worst place to stay during a tornado the father told his daughter that any time she saw a tornado coming she was to get as far way from the trailer as possible. So last night when we were under a Tornado Watch the daughter, who was home along, panicked, raced outside, jumped into the family Ford and starting driving south away from her home. She drove so fast she lost control of the car on a curve and crashed into the telephone pole. She was not hurt too badly because she able to walk to a farmhouse not far away and get help. Here is the kicker- the girl who was driving the SUV is about ten or eleven years old.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


My eyes are an ocean in which my dreams are reflected.
-Anna M. Uhlich

I just found out that my husband dreams in black-and-white and not in color. I thought everyone dreamed in color-I know I do. I not only dream in color I dream in Technicolor. He also told me that all men dream in black-and-white while most women dream in color. Is this true? Let's do a little survey, which do you dream in, color or black-and-white?

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Monday, May 09, 2005

Reading is FUNdamental

The last three weeks I have been on a reading spree. Right now I am re-reading Kings Of The Bs:Working Within The Hollywood System:An Anthology of film history and criticism and yes, some of it is as boring as the title sounds but these words caught my attention today:

The reason people get hooked on movie detail or on B movies in general or on, say, movie serials has nothing to do with the quality of either those films or those details, any more than getting hooked on rock 'n' roll or baseball has anything to do with the quality of the individual songs or games. Unlike the Ph.D. candidate forced to illuminate the works of a minor writer, the lover of B movies never attempts to raise them up to the level of high art or to analyze them by applying high art's standards.

That isn't to say that movie freaks don't exercise discriminatory taste. It's quite unlike getting hooked on minor literature. Mystery novel addicts often feel uncomfortable with high literature, and people who read spy novels often don't want to put in the work it takes to enjoy a better book. Addicts of subliterature don't really like reading, just as those executives who attend the World Series and never go to any other games don't like baseball
(What's So Hot About Going To The Movies by Clive T. Miller)

Addicts of subliterature don't really like reading...I never thought about it this way before and I feel sorry for them. When I was a child my mother always said (whenever she was criticized for allowing her children to read comic books)that she did not care what we read as long as we were reading. Twice a month she would bring a new stack of comic books home from the grocery store and we would all lie around the living room reading them.

But she also knew that we would continue to grow in our reading. We all had library cards that did not limit our ability to check out books to just the children's section. Any book I was interested in I was allowed to read. One day, I was in the eight grade, I sat reading Catcher In The Rye while waiting for science class to start when the boy sitting next me noticed what book I was perusing and asked if my mother knew I was reading a dirty book. I told him first of all, it wasn't a dirty book and second of all, my mother bought it for me. I wonder what he would have thought if he saw me reading The Godfather when I sixteen. During those years I also read Dickens, Kerouac, Bradbury, Chandler, Hammett, Stoker, Twain, Doyle, LeGuin, Steinbeck and Poe. And I read almost every one of John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee mysteries.

I've just finished reading Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: A Novel by Susanna Clarke which is about two magicians who bring practical magic back to early nineteenth century England. It's big, it's long, and it takes a while to get into but it is well worth the time you put into it. It is just the book Jane Austen would have written if she had been channeling Edgar Allen Poe at the time.

Anyway, I was reading this book while working at the library and one woman who saw me with it said she could never read a book that big because it took to long to finish. The words of someone who really does not like to read. Other patrons come in and check out a pile of Harliquin Romances or the same Louis L'Amour westerns over and over again. Some only read Grisham or Danielle Steel. Some don't read at all and only check out audio books. Most, whatever they check out, are embarrassed that they read at all, saying as lay their books on the counter, "I shouldn't be wasting my time reading when I have so many other things to do."

The sad thing is they are passing this attitude on to their children. Once the kids here are out of elementary school they only come in to the library to use the computer to either get online or play video game. I find the whole thing very depressing.

Friday, May 06, 2005

In The Midst Of Winter

For the last two months I have been carrying around a jumbo size cup filled with depression. I have tried to move carefully while holding it knowing that surface tension was the only thing keeping it from spilling over. Some time between going to bed the night before last and waking up yesterday morning it spilled. I woke up very early feeling nothing and everything. As the day progressed I found it harder and harder to concentrate on any one thing for very long. My thoughts bounced around in my mind like popping corn. For most of the day I pinballed from one emotion to another with listlessness, agitation, sadness, fear, panic, and anxiety being the main ones . My whole body was in pain, not physical pain but some kind of mental anguish that felt like the memory of some past body injury. The pain was so unbearable that a couple of times I felt nauseous from the need to throw it up. By the end of the day I was both wired and exhausted.

This morning I woke up feeling panic scuffling around the edges of my consciousness. I knew if I did not get up and moving it would catch up with me so I quickly got out of bed. I then dressed and hurried outside deciding as I closed the front gate behind me to walk down to the river. When I got there I was met with a cacophony of bird sounds. There were quacks, squeaks, honks, whistles, huffs, cackles, trills, screeches, hoots, and coos. I walked to where the sounds seemed to be the loudest and sat on the bank overlooking the water to listen.

As I sat there I noticed how green everything had become since the last time I had been there. Grass was growing, trees were leafing, and so many reeds were sprouting in the river that it was in danger of being overrun by them. I had forgotten how many different colors of green there are in the world. I could see a Crayoloa Crayon box full of greens; olive greens, green yellows, spring greens, pine greens, yellow greens, forest greens, and just plain old green greens.

I let the sound of the birds fill my ears and the colors of the grasses, plants, and trees fill my eyes. I could feel the fog of depression in my soul begin to dissipate. I watched for movement in the trees and bushes and was rewarded with the sight of redwing blackbirds (male and female), robins (male and female), a flicker, a blue jay, a goldfinch, doves, and a pair of mallards. Then something on the other bank of the river caught my eye and I found myself staring at a pair of young mule deer standing there watching me. The slight rotation of my head caused one of them to turn tail and bound away into the brush in fright but the other one watched me for a few more seconds before slowly turning around to follow the first one up into the trees.

I must have sat there for about 20 minutes and when I finally got up the sense of panic was gone and a soothing calmness had filled my being. As I walked back to town I heard the call of a meadow lark in a field across the road. That sound, for me, always carries with it the scent of loneliness and for split-second the surface of my calm broke but then quickly smoothed over.

Some times the universe hands you an unexpected gift. This morning was mine.

Thursday, May 05, 2005


Love it when the date numbers are all the same. Wouldn't this be a good day to buy a lottery ticket?

On my calendar I see that today is the Feast of the Ascension, Cinco de Mayo in Mexico, Children's Day in Japan, Holocaust Remembrance Day, and National Day of Prayer in the USA.

That last one caught my eye so I looked the phrase up on the Internet and found The Annual Day Of National Prayer Official Website. This is what they had to say about the creation of a National Day of Prayer:

In 1952, a joint resolution by Congress, signed by President Truman, declared an annual, national day of prayer. In 1988, the law was amended and signed by President Reagan, permanently setting the day as the first Thursday of every May. Each year, the president signs a proclamation, encouraging all Americans to pray on this day. Last year, all 50 state governors plus the governors of several U.S. territories signed similar proclamations.

They go on to say:
The National Day of Prayers is Ours
The National Day of Prayer belongs to all Americans. It is a day that transcends differences bringing together citizens from all backgrounds.

At first I found the idea of a National Day of Prayer disturbing as it looks like a separation of church and state issue but the above statement set my mind at ease. This group is not promoting one religion over another but saying this day belongs to all Americans and see it as a way of bringing us all together. I can live with that.

Then I read this in the About NDP section:

Official Policy Statement Of Participation Of "Non-Judeo-Christian" Groups In Nation Day Of Prayer

The Nation Day of Prayer was created by an act of Congress and is, therefore, intended for all people of faith to pray to the God of their understanding.

However, our expression of that involvement is specifically limited to the Judeo-Christian heritage and those who share that conviction as expressed in the Lausanne Covenant*. If people of other faiths wish to celebrate in their own tradition, they are welcome to do so, but we must be true to those who have supported this effort and volunteered their time to promote it. Nation Prayer Day is not a function of the government and, therefore, a particular expression of it can be defined by those who choose to organize it. This is not a state church issue.

They are admitting that they are using National Day of Prayer to help spread the influence of Christian beliefs and then have the gall to say it is not a separation of church and state issue. The arrogance expressed in the statement, Nation Prayer Day is not a function of the government and, therefore, a particular expression of it can be defined by those who choose to organize it is breathtaking. The idea that this day has been co-opted by religious bigots is appalling.

National Prayer Day may not be a "function of the government" but it was created by a branch of it and I for one will be writing my congressional representatives in protest.

*From The Lausanne Committee For World Evangelization website:The Lausanne Covenant is a declaration agreed upon by more than 2,300 evangelicals during the 1974 International Congress to be more intentional about world evangelization. Since then, the Covenant has challenged churches and Christian organizations to work together to make Jesus Christ known throughout the world.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Angel Story 2

At one point when I was working for the Colorado State Department of Personnel my boss, trying to find a way to keep me interested in my work, sent me around to other state agencies to teach their personnel employees how to use the new computerized records system. One day when I was driving down I-25 on my way to Trinidad I noticed smoke seeping out from under the hood of my car. I pulled over, popped the hood release, got out of the car, and walked to the front of it to take a look. When I lifted the hood I was relieved to find out what I thought was smoke was really steam escaping from a crack in the radiator hose.

As I stood there wondering what I was going to do about it a man appeared beside me smiling and holding a section of duct tape between his hands. He gave it to me saying, "This should fix it."
I thanked him and he turned and started walking back to his car. I leaned over the engine and quickly wrapped the tape around the radiator hose. I stood there for a couple seconds admiring my work and then slammed the hood shut. As I did I looked over the top of my car so I could wave at him as he drove away. He was gone. No car and no him. I drove on to Colorado Springs and stopped at a gas station to have the radiator hose replaced and then continued on my way. It wasn't until I was past Pueblo that I started thinking about him and what had happened.

First, everything happened way to fast. I figured I was only stopped for about a minute and I have never had any "pull off the road" car problem resolved that quickly before or since. Second, where did he come from and where did he go to? I did not see him drive up, he just appeared at my side. When I saw him standing there I just assumed he had stopped his car to help me. When he left there was no way he could have walked back to his car and driven off without me seeing him. In fact, if he was parked behind me he would not have been able to leave until I pulled away. When I left I had to drive in the breakdown lane for a bit to pick up speed before I could get back into the line of traffic. Third, how did he know I needed duct tape and why did he have the exact amount I needed? And it was just the right length-not to short not to long. Fourth, I didn't even question the fact that he was there with the duct tape in the first place. At the time it seemed perfectly normal that some guy would walk up to me, hand me just what I needed and then disappear. Finally, there was the man himself. He glowed like a brand-new penny, all clean and shiny. I can't explain it any better and no, he wasn't gay.

I think he was an angel sent to get me on my way as fast as possible. There was a good reason why I wasn't allowed to sit there too long. Something that my leaving so quickly stopped from happening. Whatever it was it must have been bad if an angel showed up to prevent it.

Monday, May 02, 2005


I think it is time to write something about our new dog "Duke." He is now 11 months old and still adjusting to his life with us. Remember when I wrote about picking him up at the airport and how when I looked into his crate for a moment I saw Emma staring back at me? How he was about the same size and had the same markings on his body that Emma did? I think I now know why. At first I did not want to believe it but I think Emma is with him.

These are the Emma traits that he has: he runs with the same gait Emma had, he has the same drinking problem (when he drinks half of the water falls out of his mouth as he lifts his head up), he dances around in circles when it is time to go for his walk, he gets cold very easily, he eats his food quickly-like he hasn't eaten in a year, at bedtime he sleeps in the living room and then moves to his bed in our bedroom some time during the night. One day I came home to find he had dug two holes in the yard in the same two spots where Emma always dug. Another day I heard him barking in the living room the way I had heard Emma bark a number of times before and I knew I would find Kate there teasing him with her chewy. She was.

Then there is his face, it is always changing. One minute he looks exactly like Emma, and then not so much, and then at other times not at all. Those times when he looks nothing like Emma I get the feeling I am seeing his real face.

I have been told that Emma is with him to help him bond with us and I believe this is true. All I have to do is look at him to see it.