The Oral Report

Standing up in front of the class was never so much fun!

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Location: River City, United States

The rantings and ravings of a mom of three wonderful girls as she finds new love while working like a dog and shaking her fist at the system. You know. Pretty much like everybody else.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Busy Friday on the Horizon

It's getting late.

I'm tired.

Highlander is aggravated because I'm keeping him awake (clacking away on this keyboard) and he has to get up early tomorrow.

I need to do a million things tomorrow (some grocery shopping, some Christmas shopping, trying to find a Brownie uniform that doesn't cost a fortune, starting Christmas cards, some laundry, and straightening up around the house)...and well...I should add getting my blood pressure checked, but there's no time to squeeze that in, I'm sure. Maybe, I should pull out the sphygmomanometer that Highlander and I bought over the summer and do a self-exam.

In the meantime, please be advised that tomorrow's edition of Flashback Friday! will not be posted until late morning, early case. Your patience (as always) is appreciated.

I'm thinking I may do some work tomorrow, too. That's not a definite yet, though. Any better offers will be considered.

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All This Without a Rubber Nose

According to this article, Charles Grodin (you know it looks just like him) has the perfect face for comedy.

How can that be?

I demand a recount!

I mean, need I say any more than ISHTAR?


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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Man I Killed

A little ditty I wanted to share...

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Uniquely Challenged

I ran across a site the other day that had several unusual personal names. It gave me a smile and reminded me of a few I've run across in my own little world. In any event, I wanted to share the ones I know, as well as the ones I'd recently found. Feel free to add to the list. I'm always looking for a smile.

When I was in high school, I knew a girl named Essie Boarsuck (I've changed the spelling of her last name here, but it's phonetically accurate). She was a very nice, extremely bright, girl, but what a name.

During roughly the same time, my dad worked with a guy named 'Ordinary Greene'. (Again, I've changed the spelling of the last name.) He never did find out from the guy why he'd been saddled with such a first name, but I remember we used to muse about his brothers and sisters...Forrest and Kelly amongst them.

Then, about twelve years ago, I was working on a construction project for a city pool in central Indiana. We had this really cool twisty slide we were installing and it was coming from a company in Canada (the only supplier) and I was dealing with a man named 'Max Dickoff' (actual spelling). Let's just say that Max and I got to a first name basis in record time. I simply couldn't call him Mr. Dickoff, without cracking up.

Optimus Prime (born 1971) is a U.S. Army Ohio National Guard firefighter.
Apparently, he legally changed his name to Optimus Prime in May of 2001, on his 30th birthday, because the show character was like a "father figure" for him when he was growing up. I guess G.I. Joe was already taken.

Winner and Loser Lane are the sixth and seventh children of Robert Lane, respectively. "The only noteworthy achievement of Winner Lane, born in 1958, is his criminal record - nearly three dozen arrests for burglary, domestic violence, trespassing, resisting arrest and other crimes.

On the contrary, Loser Lane, born in 1961, graduated from Lafayette College in Pennsylvania, and joined the New York Police Department. He eventually advanced to become sergeant."

Jaime Cardinal Sin, was a priest of the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines. He led the Archdiocese of Manila as its archbishop and was later elevated to the rank of cardinal by Pope Paul VI.

His name prompted many jokes and Sin himself made light of it. He often referred to his residence as "the house of Sin".

Byron "Low Tax" Looper legally changed his middle name as an electoral ploy, and then ended up murdering his opponent. I guess it wasn't working out well enough for him.

Of course, there's the famous skier Picabo (Pron. Peekaboo) Street. And while we're talking sports, you just can't leave out folks like NASCAR Driver Dick Trickle, baseball players Ten Million and Johnny Dickshot, hockey player Ron Tugnutt, basketball player Chubby Cox (Kobe Bryant's uncle, btw), and that football player that gave us all a chuckle, Dick Butkus.

Those crazy Texans naming their children things like Ima Hogg. Though her legendary sister, Ura Hogg, is just that. Legend.

I'm skipping over celebrity names (or there would be a whole chapter on the Frank Zappa family alone), and I'm not pulling out my soapbox to start in about the psychological effects (good or bad) of such things. Today, it's just about appreciating the distinctiveness. So what've you got?

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Happy Holidays

That's my hearth over there. Doesn't it look festive? I dig on the nutcrackers, btw. Let's chat a little about the holidays, k?

You Tube has, once again, helped me set the mood here. I've always liked this song. It's a kinda fitting in terms of this post. So, today it's doing a little double duty.

Happy Xmas (War Is Over) - John Lennon

Some of you know that I had court yesterday. Some of you don't. My ex had filed a motion to make changes to the previously established Christmas visitation with the kids.

The quick version is that the kids didn't want to make changes to the Christmas visitation. Primarily because they are aware of which parent considered it a priority to share Christmas morning with them...and which parent did not. Not once in a while. Always. Those things make an impression.

So, when the child support came down, as I knew it would, and it went pretty deeply against him (despite me offering some pretty generous options along the way that he sneered at), he decided to file a motion to hurt me back. At least, that's certainly how it came across. Not only to me, but to the kids.

When [Kid 1's] therapist called me into his office during a session with her, I had assumed we'd be discussing [Kid 1]. The therapist advised me that he'd gotten a call from my ex. And that he'd assumed my ex was calling about [Kid 1]'s progress, but that he'd (as usual) had "his own agenda". (Worse, that he'd never once asked about [Kid 1]'s progress.) My ex, apparently, had called the therapist to advise him he was filing the motion and ask him what he thought about it.

First words out of my eldest daughter's mouth..."He's just doing this to get back at you, because he's mad about the child support." Hey, I know where the smart genes come from. But with the motion filed within days of the child support order (AND a pretty significant emotional issue with his oldest daughter), it was clear that he wasn't doing this for the kids' sake.

The therapist then proceeded to tell us that he'd advised my ex NOT to file the motion. That he'd advised my ex that it was not in the children's best interest to make the change, and that "a court-ordered Christmas was not a thing of joy." Finally, that he'd, once again, advised my ex that he should form new traditions with the girls. To build on their happy Christmas memories (and not try to tear them down). That his job, as their father, was to make them happy and healthy.

At that point, I hadn't heard anything from my ex or from my lawyer, so I was hopeful that the advice of the professional treating two of our daughters had deterred him from breaking the promise he made to me nearly three years ago.

Of course, I was entirely too hopeful.

He didn't ask his children what THEY wanted or how THEY felt about it. (Well, technically, he asked them over the summer and they told him they didn't want to change it.) So, of course, when the motion was filed (a couple months ago) and my lawyer contacted me, the children, once again, felt as if their father had little or no respect for them.

The first words out of [Kid 2]'s mouth were "Are we finally going to be allowed to talk to the judge ourselves and tell him how we feel about this stuff?" [Kid 2], who was, for so long, his biggest cheerleader. It was then followed with a chorus of "I can't believe he could do this without talking to us about how we feel about it." But, of course, he can. And he did.

Without regard for their wishes.

Without regard for [Kid 1]'s recovery.

Without regard for the promise he made to me that I could trust him on this.

Without regard for how his missing so many Christmas mornings when they were his for the taking would play in court.

Without regard for the express advice from the therapist indicating that it was NOT in the children's best interest.

Without regard for how the judge would interpret a father who deliberately disregarded what he was told was the best interest of his children, and what the children themselves had told him they want.

Without regard for how his actions would be viewed, given the timing.

So, once again, more legal fees mounted, as we prepared for court. And, once again, his daughters felt that he was making decisions that affected their life and that he neither wanted, nor needed, their input. And they deeply resent that.

I asked my daughters how they felt about making some kind of compromise and they were reluctant to do so. I persuaded them to think about going to his house earlier on Christmas Day. While it was met with some resistance, eventually, they decided it was better than letting things get all heated up again.

Baron was not interested in the compromise. Perhaps because it was so much less than what he was seeking. Perhaps because it would make him look bad in the eyes of others. Perhaps because he has imagined this as some kind of competition and he sorely hates "losing" to me.

So, time went on and we prepared for court. The girls were ready to testify. The therapist's deposition was scheduled. I sent off another check to the lawyer. (More money that could have better been spent on making a happy Christmas for these kids...::sigh::)

Then, I got a phone call. Baron and I talked for a couple hours that night. And I explained to him that he should accept the compromise. That he should listen to his children. That the judge was charged with acting in the best interest of the children. And while I heard a great deal of "but it's only fair" and "it's my right as their father", I think it started to get through to him that those things are secondary to what is best for the kids. I would imagine that having a professional therapist testify that it was his opinion that it was not in the best interest of the children to make this change...and further that he'd advised their father of this and then he'd promptly disregarded that professional advice and done what he wanted to do...may have had something to do with it.

I know I asked him, at one point, if his attorney was aware of not only the therapists' information, but also the timing with regard to our oldest daughter's episode. He didn't respond. I said, "Baron, your lawyer cannot provide you with the best legal advice if you don't give him all the information. And if you don't, it's only more money out the door for both of us." I reminded him that he'd regretted not accepting a compromise previously and that I'd hoped he would do it differently this time. He ended the call by saying he'd think about it.

Monumental progress.

After some legal fiasco's around here last Wednesday (when his lawyer simply had taken some time off without drafting the paperwork) and yesterday (as everyone scrambled to offset that grievous error within a couple hours of when we were supposed to be in court), the compromise has been put in place. For this year.

I'd asked that the agreement be worded that "no further changes will be made at this time", and he didn't like "at this time". He insisted that it needed to state Christmas 2006. Of course, visitation can be revisited for any number of reasons, despite previous orders, but I checked with my lawyer (to insure that I wasn't signing one change for this year and another change for years thereafter), and signed it as he'd had it written.

Then he called me and asked if I would honor the agreement next year...even though it wouldn't be legally binding. ::sigh:: I suppose I should appreciate that he knows he can trust my word. Knows that I wouldn't lie to him or break a promise.

It's getting harder and harder to find the good in these situations. But for this year, the good is that I didn't have to go to court, my legal fees (while completely avoidable) were somewhat minimized, and the kids will have a happy Christmas spending the time with both of us that they choose to spend.

Honestly, I'm holding tight to that, and, greatly looking forward to (what is always for us) a bustling holiday season.

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Screw You Guys, I'm Going Home

A few things to do on your last day on the job. For some reason, Lisa Gibson comes to mind here...;)

A recent trip to Fort Knox (to deliver something for work) using a Yahoo map and finding, at the last minute, that they'd closed my exit...hmmm, gotta wonder.

(Click on the pics if you can't read them.)

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Kicking Off Christmas

Heard it on the radio this morning and had to share. While I'm working on a post of all Christmas songs I like, this one won't cut it. Heh. Get it?

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Bunches today, boys and girls. While work is still nipping at my bodacious behind, I've got some steam I need to let off. Come along. See the crap I have to put up with.

Time allowing, there are several posts I'd like to hang today. So, if this one isn't to your liking, check back. I'll be all over the place. First up, though, is my ex's current girlfriend. Yep, I said "current girlfriend". Know why? Because I can. It's my blog and the way that works is that in this context, I can say whatever I feel. It's quite liberating. Further, I don't find the terminology one bit disrespectful. Despite the fact that she's called me quite a few unsavory names, like "nasty" and "vindictive", I've held back on the urge to repeat the offense.

But, you know what. I have grave concerns about the mental health of someone who sends this email (in response to my request for nothing more than the information necessary to treat my daughter's dogbite and file the appropriate reports that her father refused to do)...

I have discussed the situation again with my parents. They have stated that they are willing to provide you with the dog's vaccination records, but this will not be able to be completed today. They will contact the vet and have the shots' records forwarded or faxed to wherever you choose. [Kid3] does not need rabies shots. My parents take good care of their pets and his shots are up-to-date.
They have also given me permission to give you their names and address. But I am warning you, SuperFiancee: Do not misuse this information. I will not tolerate my parents being pulled into your vindictive web of victims.

[Name and address of proud parents withheld]

And may I cordially invite you to kiss my ass.

You are so full of hot air, it's a wonder you have to pay anything at all to heat your home. You are a perfect companion for Highlander.
You're both full of it.
I will not open any more e-mails from you of any kind.

I am done with this discussion.

And then, just when I thought I wouldn't be getting anymore emails, she follows it up with this email...

Hello SuperFiancee.
I am writing to ask a favor. I would like to surprise Baron on his birthday by taking him and the girls out to dinner. I realize that's a Friday night and you may already have plans, but I wasn't thinking a really long time. Just something easy like pizza or Quizno's. I could pick them up by 5 or 6 and have them back in a couple of hours or less. I think it would mean a lot to him.
Please let me know if it's something you would be willing to do.

Your friend,

My friend? My FRIEND??? Certainly it would do me no good to respond to her, as she's already advised that she "will not open any more e-mails from me of any kind".

And yet...despite calling me names, inviting me to kiss her ass, and being hateful to me at pretty much every opportunity, she considers herself my friend and feels she can ask me a favor. Wow. I realize that I have a pretty unique assortment of people I classify that way, but no. Someone who has treated me this way, not gonna make the list, and really needs to stop emailing me. But I gotta admire the gall.

Also, "it would mean a lot to him", referring to the ex-husband who continues to run up my legal bills and drag me to court for no reason (see post further up, I'm just getting started), and put his kids through MORE crap, is not the motivator you want to use with me. While I called HIM last year and suggested that (even though I had the kids that day) he might want to spend some time with them on his birthday (and suggested he take them out to dinner), he's napalmed the bridges since then, folks (with her help, of course). And doing things for the current girlfriend, who continues to disrespect me any and every chance she gets, including, but not limited to reading this blog daily thus completely disregarding my privacy, shouldn't come asking for favors.

I'm lousy at "pretend" friendships. I try to teach my kids that how you treat others is how you should expect to be treated. It's a traditional Christian lesson. One that I think there's a good deal of wisdom in. It also speaks volumes about someone's character. People make mistakes. It's the nature of being human. You do what you can to forgive and forget and move on. But sometimes, those mistakes can't be swept away with a "kiss my ass, I'll never open your email again". Sometimes, it may take something more than that. So, while I've turned the other cheek with the lack of respect from this woman more times than I have cheeks (all four, actually), I can finally say the lightbulb above my head is fully illuminated.

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Monday, November 27, 2006

More Human Than Human

Yes, it's Monday. I know this because every single thing at my office that could blow up, has blown up. Every little job that could get screwed up, has been screwed up.

So, I'm sharing an email forward. Thought some of you might find this of interest. The aliens in the audience can skip right over this one.

Ten Rules for Being Human

by Cherie Carter-Scott

1. You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it's yours to keep for the entire period.
2. You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called, "life."
3. There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of trial, error, and experimentation. The "failed" experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiments that ultimately "work."
4. Lessons are repeated until they are learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it, you can go on to the next lesson.
5. Learning lessons does not end. There's no part of life that doesn't contain its lessons. If you're alive, that means there are still lessons to be learned.
6. "There" is no better a place than "here." When your "there" has become a "here", you will simply obtain another "there" that will again look better than "here."
7. Other people are merely mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself.
8. What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours.
9. Your answers lie within you. The answers to life's questions lie within you. All you need to do is look, listen, and trust.
10. You will forget all this.

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Friday, November 24, 2006

Flashback Friday!

With it being 'Black Friday', I'm sure everyone is thinking I've been off in the bargain-crazed throngs all day (not even close) or that I've got some Thanksgiving Flashback or a horror story of shopping on Black Friday. Nope. Wrong again. I've been so enjoying my holiday weekend, that I totally forgot it was time for another Flashback!

Remembering a little late in the day, I realize, but I'd thrown this together a couple days ago, so I was prepared when it finally did dawn on me. My humblest apologies. Without further ado, here's this week's edition.

I walked down to the little Chinese place near my office the other day, to pick up some carryout (to bring back and eat at my desk, because this week work has sucked soooooo bad) and noticed, for a first time, in a long time, the name on the door.

It's very similar to a name of another Chinese place that will forever hold a place of infamy in my family. We shall call this Flashback Friday! the tale of...The Golden Wok!

Nearly ten years ago, my younger sister worked as a secretary at the sixth floor nurse's station of one of the larger hospitals here in River City. I've never worked in that type of environment, but I can imagine that it's extremely demanding and stressful.

On one particular occasion (and I realize that the first part of this Flashback is not my with me, here, people), my sister and several other members of the staff were having a very busy day with several new patient arrivals. As such, most of the sixth floor staff opted to order a lunch delivery.

From...The Golden Wok.

Eight of the ten employees working at the sixth floor nurse's station that day, including my sister, had ordered the Moo Goo Gai Pan (a specialty of that particular establishment, I hear), and when the food arrived, they each gobbled theirs down in 15 minute shifts.

Roughly thirty minutes later, it hit them. One by one they succumbed to some pretty debillitating symptoms of food poisoning. Bad, because the hospital could not replace them and they each had to suffer through the remainder of their shift.

My sister, concerned because of the situation, tried to call The Golden Wok, to see if other customers had become ill. Because The Golden Wok was having a very busy day, the person who normally took orders had been pressed into service making a nearby delivery. (Of course, it could be that they realized people were getting sick and closed their restaurant, too.)

Over and over she kept getting a recording..."Golden Wok, Open 11 O'Clock". Each time becoming more and more angry, and feeling more and more nauseous.

She never reached anyone at the restaurant that day and has, ever since, sworn off Chinese food completely. We'd be out shopping and I'd suggest we stop at a little Chinese place and she'd practically gag. It was bad.

About a year later, my niece, who is almost four years older than [Kid 1], was babysitting for me. It was spring break week and my kids were out of school. It was my niece's first "official" babysitting job and she was a little overwhelmed. She was doing okay, though.

My sister was a little concerned and was calling my house CONSTANTLY checking in. I finally had to tell her to give the girl a break. That was on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, I decided to have a little fun with her. (That's what big sister's do.) So, I called the kids and enlisted them in a little prank.

And then, about fifteen minutes later, I called my sister. It was midday and I got a slight tone of panic in my voice as we had this exchange:

ME: Hi. Have you talked to "W" (her daughter)?
HER: No.
ME: Well. [pause] I ask because I haven't been able to reach anyone at the house since early this morning and I was hoping maybe you'd talked to them.
HER: They wouldn't be outside or something, would they?
ME: No. It's raining. Have you looked outside lately?
HER: Oh. [pause] Are you worried.
ME: [trying to sound brave] I guess not. I was just hoping you'd talked to them and might know if they were okay. I suppose I'll try them again in a little while. I'll talk to you later. Hey, let me know if you hear from them, okay?
HER: Sure.
ME: [hanging up] bwa ha ha ha ha...

Of course, as soon as hung up, she immediately called my house.

Where the children had been instructed not to answer the phone.

And the answering machine picked up.

And instead of my recorded voice asking my sister if she'd like to leave a message, she got my niece's best imitation of an Asian accent...

"Golden Wok. Open 11 O'Clock."

Hey. The kids and I thought it was hysterical.


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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I Feel Good...

Barely home from work, and at the starting line of a four day weekend sure to be culinarily (sure it's a word) hedonistic, full of the always welcome chaos of returning kiddies, and even a little relaxing with Highlander.

Rarely, I have happy work stuff to share, but today, well, I feel good.

Right before I left work, I had what was a most fulfilling conversation with the office cleaning guy, Milt. Milt is an older black man who has been a staple at Rupert & McElroy forever. He and his wife clean the offices, and have, on occasion, done some construction cleaning for us as well.

Milt and his wife have had it pretty rough the last couple years. Milt's wife has developed some debillitating illness that is creating a pretty significant hardship for them. They are, like too many Americans, under insured and the cost of all of the tests and trial and error medications have pushed their already tenuous financial situation just past the edge of disaster. But still he shows up every night to wash our coffee cups and empty our wastecans and vacuum.

He's also raising a teenaged grandson. His daughter is in Iraq, and has been pretty much since things started over there. He doesn't talk about it much. I know he's worried about her, too. I guess you deal with the little pieces that you can and handle the big ones when you have to.

Milt recently lost a couple big cleaning contracts, which has added to his economical woes. And yet, not one time have I ever heard him complain. Not one. He will sometimes ask if any of our construction projects need his services. He will let me know how his wife is doing, if I ask him.

So, after discussing it with a few people in the office, I thought that this year, maybe instead of selecting a family of strangers who were down and out, we should adopt some people we care about and who need us.

When everyone left the office tonight, I asked Milt if he had just a minute. So I sat him down in the conference room. And I talked to this man about how much it would mean to us to help his family this year for Christmas. I explained to him that we adopt a family each year and that it would be such a special joy to us to feel we'd made a difference in the holiday for someone we truly cared about. That we knew he had a lot on him right now and that he would never ask, but that we would love to help in some small way to make things a little better for him.

And he began to weep.

I was concerned that I may have offended him (a risk I'd known I'd be taking). But I hadn't. He looked up at me with tears streaming down his face and with a voice choked with emotion, said, "You have no idea what this means to me."

As a chick who cries at virtually everything, I was amazed that I didn't join him. But I was so incredibly happy to think that he needed the help and that we could give it. Moreover, that it was going to make such a significant difference in his family's lives. All I could do was smile.

He told me that he hadn't known how he was going to be able to have Christmas this year and had been worrying about it, and was so grateful that we cared enough to do this for him. He kept saying "Bless you" over and over as he hugged me tight.

So tonight, I am filled to brimming with the spirit of the season. Have a most wonderful holiday, all of you!

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Many Thanks

Thank you, Highlander's Mum. Thank you for making such an adorable baby boy. Thank you for giving him the opportunity to be an independent thinker. Thank you for encouraging his creativity. Thank you for teaching him to appreciate and admire strong, capable women.

Thank you, Opus. Thank you for helping him discover what it takes to be a couple. Thank you for loving him and letting him love you. Thank you for helping him to become the thoughtful and considerate man that he is. Thank you for being his friend...then and now.

Thank you, H, and K, and A, and R, and L, and any other nameless women out there who have been important in Highlander's life. You helped him refine his definition of an ideal woman to the point where it came out, "me". You gave him love and affection and friendship at times when he needed them most. You created a place for me in his life and room for me in his heart.

Thank you, Syracuse University clique. Thank you for filling him with happy memories and wonderful friendships. Thank you for giving him those gifts that are such an integral part of who he is. Thank you for teaching him and empowering him and caring about him.

Thank you, Nate. Thank you for giving him fond real world memories of fun times. Thank you for being supportive of him and for being a good friend to him always. Thank you for making his happiness important to you.

Thank you, Great Aunts H and H. Thank you for spoiling him rotten. Thank you for making him feel so very special and so very loved. Thank you for showing him that making someone feel that good, can make you feel good, too.

Thank you, Mike Norton. Thank you for showing him how wonderful it feels to have a thoughtful, generous friend. Thank you for encouraging him in so many things in the last decade. Thank you for appreciating his sense of humor and his many talents. Thank you for being the source of many smiles and much good advice in hard times.

Thank you, State of Florida. Thank you for making him miss colder weather. Thank you for showing him that Kentucky really ain't such a bad place to settle down. Thank you for keeping him safe for me.

Thank you, Sean and Patrick and Paul. Thank you for loving him unconditionally. Thank you for letting him know the joys that family can bring. Thank you for being there for him in times when he has desperately needed someone to be there for him.

Thank you, Jeff Webb. Thank you for sharing so many happy times with him. Thank you for being the one to show him that the things that make him unique are the things worth embracing. Thank you for being the one friend he has held closest in his heart always.

Thank you, Tampa City Clerks' Office. Thank you for giving him the opportunity to write seven novels. Seven novels that led me to him.

Thank you, 'Slappy'. Thank you for helping spark his adorably curmudgeonly attitude. Thank you for being the one to spur him to dig deeper and strive to learn more. In everything.

Thank you, Tony Collett. Thank you for replacing a certain piece of damaged property during a time when he so desperately needed to have faith in the goodness of people again.

Thank you, Robert A. Heinlein, and Steve Stirling, and Barbara Hambly, and Roger Zelazny, and Edgar Rice Burroughs, and so many other very talented writers. Thank you for giving him adventures. Thank you for opening his mind to new ideas. Thank you for helping him explore philosophies he might never have known about without you. Thank you for being there with him in lonely times. Thank you for inspiring his passion to write himself.

Thank you, Highlander. Thank you for living the life you have to become the man I'm crazy about. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for letting me love you back.

Happy Birthday, Baby. I'm deeply looking forward to many more together. Thank you for letting me be part of them all.

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Sometimes I Miss the Rum in My Rum Punch...

Remember when you were in college? Some of you, maybe not. Anything and everything was an excuse to get drunk. I realize some of the details may be kinda fuzzy for a few of you. Myself included. (Highlander, you are excused from this conversation.)

Finals are over = Keg party.
Friday night movie = Strawberry Dacquiris.
Halloween Ghost Run = Kamikazi's until you pass out (hopefully the car is stopped when this happens).
Flat Tire = Bottle of wine your roommate stashed away.
Hey, It's Tuesday! = Bloody Mary's for breakfast.

That's right. A little wouldn't do it. The stress, the horror, that was college, required that we do it full-on. You could just forget about learning curves or acclimation when it came to the liquor.

I think about how little I had to worry about then. Sure, yeah, homework and some little nothing job, maybe some relationship stuff. We were young. Life hadn't even BEGUN to kick us in the gut. No financial issues (student loans were eons away), no health issues (other than the hangovers), none of the responsibilities of being grown-ups. Yet we had to stay as drunk as we could, as often as we could. I don't know about you guys, but I'm pretty sure it was a rule at my school.

Have you ever had to ask someone if you had a good time at a party or not? Have you ever thanked someone for giving you a ride home, only to have them tell you they didn't? Have you ever awakened the next day to find you're in someone else's clothes and you have no idea where yours are? Have you ever had to apologize for puking in someone's closet? Have you ever combined gin and over the counter cherry cough syrup and called it a mixed drink? Have you ever staggered into someone's really expensive stereo equipment and totalled it? Have you ever had mysterious contusions the morning after you'd been a drunken spectacle, that you just couldn't explain? Have you get the point...

Wisdom comes slow. Slower to some than to others, unfortunately. (Oh, and I'm not responsible for all of the aforementioned shenanigans myself, either. Some of them were done by friends. Honest injun.)

Now, I don't drink so much anymore...else I'm pretty sure I'd be dead. I'm too old, I think. I mean, really, does anybody want to see some old drunk bitches laying in a gutter passed out? Yeah, I didn't think so. I still enjoy it every once in a while, and, luckily, the hangovers aren't quite as brutal as they used to be. (Most likely because I don't indulge in it to NEARLY the excess that I once did.) Oh, I still think about it from time to time. After a particularly bad day at work, I'll often joke about going home and getting loaded. But it is a joke.

Over this past weekend, I was recalling a particular incident that happened 26 years ago, and found myself amazed at my young self's capacity for stupidity.

I guess I've grown up. Even though, some of the drunken memories I have are pleasant enough, too many others are embarrassing or frightening, and it brings me little joy to think of reliving any of them.

Now, I can't see myself being one of those folks who lectures everyone else on the evils of drinking. EGADS!, I hate those people.

But, remembering how difficult it was to quit smoking cigarettes (finally) nearly nine years ago, whatever else I did, I did NOT want to be one of those women telling everyone else to quit. Your choice, people. I ain't running your lives. Ditto with the liquor. In fact, have a cigarette and a drink for me! (To properly recreate it, it should be a menthol cig and either an amaretto sour or something fruity with Bacardi in it. The paper umbrella is totally optional.) But for God's sake, don't throw up in your best friend's purse. (It's a great friend who offers it.) Have a little more dignity than that.

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One for Tony!

Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
It's Tony Collett's birthday,
and THIS is what I do...

Happy Birthday, Tony!! Thanks for venturing south and allowing us to share some of it with you. (Even if I'm not worth a DAMN at 'Marvel Scene It!')!

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Friday, November 17, 2006

A Guest Post From 'Martha'

Now, I realize most of you have tuned in for your weekly dose of Flashback Friday! (You people really SHOULD get out more.) Unfortunately, SF is on...let's call it...sabbatical. I'm sure she'll be back around in the next few days (or a week, tops). With the holidays upon us, it's been necessary for me to fill in.

Any 'Flashbacks' I could share with you would have to do with prison stories and I doubt any of you would want to hear them anyway. Mostly, SG just wanted to stick SOMEthing up here to let people know that down here in River City, we're alive and well.

With the upcoming holidays, it was inevitable that I'd show up for a visit. Add in a kick-off visit from the Collett's for a birthday week (Highlander's and Tony's, btw) and, hey, there's much to be done and SF is only so qualified to handle this type of situation. 'This' is a job for Martha!

Tonight is a big grocery shopping night, complete with plenty o' groceries for the weekend guests and the final touches for our Thanksgiving meal. Throwing a pot of chili on in a bit and there's a birthday cake already in the oven, even as I type.

Of course, there'll be some final cleaning to be done and a little food prep (likely in the morning), but it should be a nice birthday weekend around here. Oh, and Highlander's friend, Bane, is stopping by, too.

So, basically, there's just no time for a Flashback, today. There's beds to be made and floors to be swept and, well, chit chatting with you guys on the computer just isn't going to get any of that done.

Look for a couple of 'birthday posts' coming up soon, but prior to that...likely not much. Have a great weekend!! Do something 'crafty', okay?



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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Curling Up

With the cooler temps bearing down on most of us (YGF is finally getting the warm stuff down there), I thought it might be appropriate to pull out this book meme that I threw together some time back.

For those who want to play along, copy the questions onto your own blog and share your own book secrets. Or not. I'm not the library gestapo or anything.

1. One book that changed your life?

Endgame, by D.A. Madigan. Reading that book, got me to read more of his work and to forge a friendship (and eventually more) with the author. Really has changed my life. There are other books that have made lasting and unique impressions on me, but as for changing my life, that one gets the prize.

2. One book you have read more than once?

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis. Recently enjoyed reading it, yet again, to my youngest daughter.

3. One book you would want on a desert island?

Heh…I keep thinking of the one book everyone else would want. My oldest would likely choose Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire. Highlander, I believe, would choose Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light. If I’m choosing for me, though, I’m thinking something by Stephen King. Likely, The Stand. Or possibly, Different Seasons.

4. One book you wish had written?

Not really a writer, so this one was difficult for me. Ironically, I think it’s Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone. First, J.K. Rowling really turned her life around writing this story. Second, she seemed to have fun doing it.

5. One book you wish had never been written?

Also Stephen King. Wishing he’d stopped before he started on The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. The only Stephen King book I’ve ever put down without finishing.

6. One book you have been meaning to read, but just never have?

LOTS of choices here. Barbara Hambly’s A Free Man of Color (and all the sequels in the series), John Varley’s Titan, Robert A. Heinlein’s I Will Fear No Evil, Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber, and so on and so on and so on. Lucky for me, all of these (and more) are patiently waiting on shelves in my home. Someday, when I have a little time for me, I’ll get to them. Maybe I should start here.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Flashback Friday!

This week, you get a YouTube Flashback Friday!

Welcome to my youth. For reasons that will become abundantly apparent to you, it's not a place to be revisited without proper safety precautions. Pregnant women and small children should not proceed. You have to be THIS tall to ride the ride. THE ORAL REPORT takes no responsibility for anyone who becomes brain-damaged as a result of the content of this (hell, or any other) post on this blog. Still in? Click the thingy. But be careful...

When I was young, the world was a different place. Part of that was that I was in Rochester, New York (at least part of the time), part of it was that it WAS a different place. I used to get so tired of hearing older people saying that to me. It's kinda the undisputable truth, though.

For the purposes of this post, however, You Tube is helping me out.

Television commercials back in the day looked alot like this...

(Good luck getting that little ditty out of your head today!)

and this...

(Can anyone imagine a commercial so un-p.c. now???)

In between the commercials on our three channels, there was some of this...

and this...

And, Great Hera help us, the music looked/sounded like this...

and this...

Perhaps leaving permanent marks on my generation, these are just some of the reasons why we would choose NOT to go back. The damage is deep indeed. And while I hated putting all of you at risk, it needed to be done. Those of you who lived through it the first time, should either grab a bottle or put your head between your knees (not both, though...that's dangerous!). Didn't mean to trigger your PTS.

I should note that despite all of the above history, I still reserve (and frequently exercise) the right to complain about hip hop music, The Flavor of Love, and local tv ads for an ambulance chaser who touts himself as “The Hammer"...among other things. 'Cause they're really bad, too, and somebody needs to warn the others.

Now off with you. Have a fun weekend everybody!!


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Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Shiner's Are In Town

Could somebody get me a steak for my kid's eye?

No, no, I didn't pop her.

She, according to all accounts, tripped over a chair in her classroom and hit her eye on the desk.

Now, I'm not going to linger on how close she came to the proverbial "putting out" of her eye. Though, I will say that about a quarter of an inch would have done it. Instead, I will linger on the failure, yet again, of the adults charged with caring for her in my stead.

When I picked up [Kid 3] after I got out of work, the YMCA counselor met me at the door. She wanted to make it abundantly clear that what I was about to see hadn't happened under HER watch.

Oh, great. These things are never good.

So, we walk in together and I see my kid and her left eye is all swollen up and has a cut on the eyelid and it's red and purple. I look at my watch and realize that it's 6PM and no school personnel will still be there. But tomorrow morning, SOMEbody has some 'splaining to do.

The YMCA staff had put ice on the eye and some neosporin on the cut. [Kid 3] had reported to them that she'd tripped. But I'd gotten no phone call from the school. No note from her teacher. No nothing, until I'd shown up, some four hours after she'd been hurt.

I asked [Kid 3] if she'd told her teacher that she'd fallen. Hey, I'm trying to give the woman the benefit of the doubt. She's got 25 kids to keep up with, maybe she didn't see it happen and my kid didn't tell her. Can't blame her for that.

But, no. [Kid 3] reported that she had told the teacher and that teacher told her to "put her head down on her desk".

Now, my kid took a blow to the head and her teacher tells her to lay down. I'm pretty sure basic first aid (which I'd like to think teachers would HAVE to have) would make it clear that you don't let someone nap who has just had a head injury. (Isn't that common knowledge for possible concussions?) Her eye wasn't checked at all.

So, those of you who know me, probably have a clue about how upset I was.

I'd decided I would "drop in" on the teacher and the school staff the next day. I really didn't think I could express myself adequately on the telephone. You know what I mean? My plan was to stop by just after lunch, chat with the appropriate individuals about what I felt were reasonable expectations regarding the care and safety of my child and appropriate notifications to me, but it didn't work out quite that way.

You see, school starts (for the younger kids) at 9:05AM around here. I got a call at work the next morning at 9:12AM. It was the teacher. She had "no idea". She was "so sorry". She "should have checked her". Uh huh. As soon as [Kid 3] got to class, her teacher asked what happened to her eye (likely doing the preliminary investigative work for a social services call), and was told that it had happened when she fell in class the day before.

Now, the swelling wouldn't have been evident immediately, but there was a cut. A good sized cut. How did she miss that? "Um...I didn't look at her eye. It looked like she hit her shoulder." Yep. She actually saw the fall and still didn't do anything. ::sigh::

I understand that every parent wants their child to get the most attention, and I suppose I'm no different there. But, honestly, I just want my child to get enough basic attention, not to be injured. And, if an accident happens and she DOES get injured, I want someone's sorry ass to call me and let me know and I want her to get the appropriate medical attention. No matter how many other kids are in the room when it happens.

And I don't think that's too much to ask. Even from a public school teacher.

Because I wasn't giving her much slack, she asked if I'd like the principal to call me. I told her I thought that might be a good idea. And so, when my phone rang two minutes later, it didn't come as much of a surprise that the principal was grovelling, too.

"Oh, we're so sorry we didn't pay any attention to your kid when she got hurt, but her teacher is just the cat's ass." "Oh, yes, I did see her eye and it does look pretty bad and I can't really say why it was missed and we want you to know that it won't EVER happen again."

Damn straight. Because those people know that this is a mistake that better not happen again. I have no doubt I'll get phone calls in the future, and she'll get medical attention when she needs it. Those are REASONABLE expectations and I shouldn't HAVE to think of it as special treatment. Know why? Because it's not. I'd like to think that EVERY kid in this school system is treated that way.

As it was, I didn't have to make a trip over. I was able to take care of the matter, fully, over the phone.

And, btw,[Kid 3] is sporting something that looks quite a bit like yellowish green eye shadow on her left eye. But my kids have always been a little funky.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

And the Hits Just Keep on Coming....

Denny Hastert is gonna be too busy taking care of his Illinois constituents, to throw his hat into the ring of potential minority house leaders.

I'm sure it has nothing to do with Mark Foley.


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Turning Into Quite a Week

And so it begins...

The people speak. Their voices heard. FINALLY. Changes are (however small, however begrudgingly) initiated.

It fills me with hope. I'm not saying I expect miracles. But, this is one I hadn't expected nearly this soon.

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All in One Day

Democrats retake control of the House...

Possibly the Senate...

And Britney Spears files for divorce...


I think not...

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Random Encounters

I feel the need.

The need to blog.

Alas, it's mostly about feeling the need. What I mean is that the wisdom, the wit, the poignancy...they all seem to be elsewhere at the moment. Not to be slowed by the absence of talent or content on this blog, I've opted to share a few (more) trivalities from my life.

This morning, I had a conversation with my favorite conservative architect at work. He asked me if I'd been to vote yet. (Honestly, I think he was pulling my chain because he knows we look at politics from completely different angles.) I affirmed, adding, jokingly, that somebody had to go counter HIS vote. Then he got this look (and I don't think it had anything to do with coffee withdrawal, either) and said "You DID vote for [our republican incumbent congresswoman], didn't you??? When I said "Nope", he said "ARE YOU SERIOUS??? DO YOU KNOW WHAT SHE'S DONE FOR OUR COMMUNITY??"

I'm sure his respect for me took another big hit, and I really HATE not helpin' out a sistah, but that's the way that stuff goes sometimes. It's not just about our little burg (even though our little burg is an above-average sized burg), it's about regaining some checks and balances and getting a leash and collar (preferably one with a shock attachment) around the ones we can't get rid of this time.

Besides, the guy running against the incumbant was born and raised here, is a businessman with strong leanings in education, journalism and the arts. I don't think it's a bad trade. I just hope it works out.


Soooooo, because it's Election Day across the land, the kiddies are out of school (a number of local schools double as polling places and I suppose safety is an issue). I had a work errand to run and decided to take care of it around lunchtime and run by the house as well.

The loungification was more than a little enticing (not helped by the drizzle outside), but I played a couple games of Magic cards with my eldest, snuggled the baby and chatted up the middle kid (who advised me I was not just her mom...I was her best friend...hmmmm, and only a month 'til her birthday...;) before heading back to the office.

But not before getting my teenagers in a giggle fit that had them both drooling AND gave them both hiccups. I was completely victorious (YAY for me!), escaping before any such fate could befall me (YAY for me, again!). Probably best for all, because, tragically, I sound like a barking seal when I have the hiccups. Trust me, it ain't a pretty thing.

On an unrelated note, I will say that I was very pleased to see all the pedestrian and vehicular traffic on the corner (where our local polling station is located), and think that the turn-out was looking good.


Bebopping on back to work after lunch, and I was notified by my boss that he has a new granddaughter. (The architect mentioned above announced the birth of his first granddaughter...he has two grandsons...yesterday.) Said news was kind of bittersweet for said boss, as his son (and daughter-in-law and four year old grandson) left for the Congo last spring to teach. The Congolese embassy advised everyone to get out of the country (due to more infighting) a few weeks ago and the little family evacuated to Europe. The baby was born at a hospital in a small French town overlooking a lake and the Alps (quite a different view than she could have had).

My boss is quite relieved (as I would be) that his grandchildren are out of the war-torn African Congo, but is desperately missing them and now that he has a new granddaughter, he's sad not to be able to see and hold her.

I hate even trying to imagine it.


Working on the first charitable project of the season. My mom and dad's church is participating in a program to make Christmas stockings to send to prison. (So many jokes, so little time.) Anyway, they are sewing/decorating the stockings and sending them to be filled elsewhere, and then they can be given out to inmates' kids when they visit at Christmastime. Those are definitely some kids that can use a little extra holiday love and I'm happy to lend my talents to sending them some.

I'm not so much the seamstress, but I can get my Martha on, when it comes to decorating these puppies. Consequently, my girls (never enough opportunities to show kids the importance of community service and helping your fellow man...especially this time of year) and I are going to be kicking off the Christmas season by making stockings to send to prison, this Saturday. Not sure how many we'll get done, but at least a few kids will benefit from the effort.

Only a couple weeks until I go to the Post Office to select this year's Santa letter. And, honestly, I can hardly wait!!


Don't forget to vote today! If you haven't already, I mean. Like Opus says, no matter which way you're bent politically, embrace the opportunity for what it is. So many people have not even the illusion of a voice in their government.

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Catch the Wave

Waves of nausea, that is.

While flipping channels last night, H and I caught part of a Fox News interview with a White House anti-terrorism advisor (who reminded me, for all the world, of a brunette version of Ainsley Hayes). She was regaling the interviewer with the news flash that Al Qaeda is keeping a close eye on the upcoming U.S. elections.

Um...yeah...there's a surprise. Our country is working at putting an end to their way of life, and they have an interest in keeping up with what we're doing. Who'd a guessed it?

Anyway, she mentioned the effect the Al Qaeda had had in the Spanish elections in 2003. (The republicans are concerned that an increase in terrorism by Al Qaeda this close to the election will "influence" voters towards democrats. Gee, I don't remember them being so concerned about having a U.S. election hijacked when Iran did virtually the same thing in 1980.)

Are they really trying to spin this thing out AGAIN? She wasn't wearing a tee shirt that said "Democrats STAY HOME on November 7th" or anything, but the message was pretty clear.

Gee, maybe they're more worried than they're letting on.

Or maybe, even better, they don't feel the rigged voting machines (and if you haven't seen HBO's special, try to catch's truly the scariest movie I've seen in some time) will be enough to win them another election.

One can only hope.

::deep breath:: I love the smell of Fear and Desperation in the morning...

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Friday, November 03, 2006

Flashback Friday!

This week, I thought a little political Flashback Friday! was in order. That campaign button to the left (do candidates still do campaign buttons?) belongs to the first presidential candidate to ever get my vote. It didn't do him much good, but it did a couple things for me. It taught me a couple of hard and fast lessons.

The best man for the job is not always the man who gets the job. And sometimes, voting with your heart first and your head second, isn't the smartest way to succeed in your goals. (See Ralph Nader, 2000, who, ironically, was endorsed by John Anderson.)

Now, in 1980, I had just graduated from high school and I was beginning my freshman year of college. I hadn't been particularly politically active in high school, but I'd awaited my own opportunities to vote with a great deal of anticipation. Just as I'd eagerly awaited my 16th birthday and the opportunities it brought, my 18th birthday would bring a voice in my government.

Okay, maybe it was a power trip. I was gonna get to review the candidates and someone, somewhere, was going to listen to what I thought about it. At least that's what I thought at the time.

I registered to vote on my birthday. With the general election only a couple months afterwards, I didn't want to miss registration deadlines and pass up my first voting experience. My excitement about this was certainly heightened by the fact that it was a presidential election, but also by the political events of the day.

There is a box in the top of a closet that has some notes in it about what was going on in the world my senior year. (I'm thinking my grandchildren will be interested in seeing it someday.) The most notable thing was the Iranian Hostage Crisis, and it definitely played into the elections that year.

My dad, a lifelong republican (in the footsteps of his dad, who was a lifelong republican), had expected his eldest child to follow that tradition. It may have been the very first time I disappointed him. I was just NEVER a Reagan fan. And while Jimmy Carter had his moments, well, he wasn't getting the job done either. I made what I thought was the logical decision, though I did the unthinkable in my father's eyes.

I registered as an Independent.

Thwarting generations of history for the republican party, I checked the bottom box. I was advised, even as I was doing it, that there would be no primary vote for me. I didn't care. (Though that was the main reason I changed my party affiliation some years later.) Even at the tender age of eighteen, I had nothing but contempt for the way the government was being run. I felt I was doing "the right thing". (It's likely I was born just a little too late, and missed out by not being in college in the late 60's).

"The right thing", I came to learn, is rarely so black and white. That's especially true in politics.

When I came home, my father asked me if I'd actually gone through with my plans. I told him I had. His guilt, for clearly having failed me somehow, hung on him for weeks.

During the weeks leading up to the election, we'd have long political discussions about the republican agenda and how there was no other right way to vote. But I knew that Reagan's "voodoo economics" had to involve cutting every social program out there to achieve his goal of a balanced budget. (Little did we know that he'd not only cut the social programs, but that he'd kick the deficit to places we'd never dreamed it could go.)

Dad never could "save" me, or "turn me around" on these things. (I was quite the headstrong young woman intent on making a difference in the world and insisting on not being suckered by the man. Boy, does that ever seem like a lifetime ago.) And, so, on that crisp fall morning in November, 1980, I pulled the lever for the first time.

The memories of walking into the polling area and waiting my turn are so clear, even now. Showing my identification as I signed my name for the very first time, and then, filled with nervousness and pride and AWE at the entire situation, I walked towards the portable booth. I felt a tear welling up in my eye as the emotions overwhelmed me, knowing that this was a memory of a lifetime for me and that it was so much less about winning, and so much more about doing what I felt was the "right thing".

You don't need a history book to tell you that I didn't pick the winner that year. John Anderson (who began his political career as a republican, btw), got over 5,000,000 popular votes, but not one electoral vote. Watching the results that night, my father taunted me that I'd wasted my vote and had, in fact, taken one away from Jimmy Carter, thus giving the edge to Ronald Reagan. Perhaps there is more than a little truth in his statements. I certainly thought so at the time.

Mostly, I felt as if I was no longer "talking the talk", I was "walking the walk". My candidate may not have won the election, but I was not just bitching about things, I was doing something about it. Sure, I was young and naive, but it was the First Step. Things had to get rolling somehow.

I had long felt (and still do) that to not take advantage of the opportunities afforded by those who fought so hard, not for themselves, but so that we could have them, was somehow a serious affront. And I simply would NEVER minimize the importance of those efforts. I just couldn't.

In a few short days, I'll be lining up with my ID in hand, once again. This time, for the first time, with Highlander at my side. And while it's only the mid-terms, I'm still excited (and it's not only because Highlander will be at my side...;). I remember watching DEADWOOD last season, and seeing Richardson dressing up to go vote. It was so easy for me to empathize with him, and truly feel the import of the occasion.

While there have been more than a few elections where it was (for me anyway) about picking the lesser evil, I never want to lose the feeling of contributing to the political process completely. This year, with the republican party reeling, I am probably a little more exuberant than I've been in some time. The feeling of empowerment is something I want to embrace tightly.

Before I end this, I'd like to leave you with three things...

*Be informed!*
*Help inform others!*

A couple of things to pass along, to that end, are resources that will help you decide if you're informed enough to vote (click on the graphic and take the test...btw, I'm totally cleared to go).

...and a link to help you see what candidates in your area stand for. (A big help in cutting through all the mud-slinging!)

Now get out there and do it! Do it because you DO make a difference. Do it because every voice should be heard. Do it because you're fed up and this is the way to make it better. Do it because hundreds and thousands of people before you never had the right and they fought the tyranny to give this precious gift to you. Do it because somebody just MIGHT give you a million dollars if you do! Do it because it's the "right thing". Listen, like the folks at Nike say, Just Do It!


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