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.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Mini Link Dump

Not enough time to do a real link dump, but wanted to share a few...

How to get rid of stuff, is an excellent source of information when you need to...well...get rid of stuff. It will help you get rid of cat pee smell, lipstick stains, and boy/girlfriends...not necessarily in that order.

Generally, I like my fairies to be all mystical and beautiful. It's the child in me, I suppose. But, an Englishman, well, he claims to have discovered a different kind of fairy.

For those of you in need of a breakthrough in your life, here are ten ways to jumpstart one.

This may be an alarm clock I wouldn't hate quite so much...

And, if that product doesn't work for you, maybe you can find a use for this one...

Or, perhaps, this one...

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Overheard at the YMCA

Yesterday morning, whilst dropping off [Kid 3], [Kid 2] was helping her put her things away, while I was signing her in. "Billy", the young, buff new counselor (btw, there have been some employee changes recently...that's all I'm saying) turned to [Kid 2] and said...

"Hey are you the older sister that's dating a 'dork'?" I looked up, as [Kid 2] has just broken up with her boyfriend. Billy then proceeds with...

"[Kid 3] says you're a geek yourself. Plus that you're really HOT."

[Kid 2]'s eyes went saucerfied and we were out of there in seconds flat.
As soon as we got to the car, we were both cracking up that [Kid 3] would do that. (Oh, she's chatty, no doubt about that.) And then, [Kid 2] indicated that she would have to...eliminate...her sister later that evening. (She'd have twirled her mustachio, if she'd had one.)

Hey, I say if Billy is interested...

and then she smacked me.

But I was more than a little amused, let me tell you.

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Flashback Friday!

Today will afford me and [Kid 3] a little mom and kid bonding time that we don't usually get. Highlander is working until 8PM, [Kid 1] has a LAN party (which has been cancelled and rescheduled like 3 times) and [Kid 2] is going to a birthday party for a friend. And not that it makes any difference, but it's a gay friend. I have absolutely no problem with her attending the party. I note it only because it put me to mind of a few parties (hosted by gay friends) that I attended during my college years (and shortly thereafter). Particularly one friend that I cherished during that time.

Maybe more now.

I met Chick (that's her real nickname, btw), in the fall of 1980. Another friend, Michelle, had invited me along with her to a neighborhood bar she frequented. At 18, I was sure I'd be carded, but she convinced me otherwise. In all the time I went to the Hideaway...and I'll tell you we were way up in the triple digits here...I was never carded. The place closed not terribly long after my 21st birthday. Ironic, huh?

In any event, Michelle and I used to hang out and shoot pool at this place and Chick was also a regular there. She lived a couple blocks from the Hideaway and was a drummer in a local band. She was about 3 years older than I was and I thought she was just about the coolest person I'd ever met.

She was at nearly a foot shorter than I was and had very dark cropped hair and glasses. She was smart and funny and politically savvy. I loved talking to her about lots of different things. Plus she was always so generous and caring and kindhearted, and so passionate about her music...and life.

At the time, she was engaged to a pretty nice guy and they had an awesome apartment. Of course, I was still living at my folks' house and spending the occasional night on Michelle's couch, so an awesome apartment was nearly any one that didn't have a parent in it.

I didn't know what Chick did for a living (thought I know she wasn't a dealer), but she ALWAYS had money, and she always had pot. In those days, I wasn't as judgmental of the weed. I wasn't competing with it, I guess. Also, from time to time, I was known to enjoy a little of it myself. Chick was the only person I ever knew who used strawberry rolling papers. Which may be more information than I want to share here. Let's just say that seeing a pink joint was all every sense of the word.

Not long after I met Chick, she and her fiance' split up. I remember sitting out in her car, parked in front of the Hideaway talking. I remember telling her I was sorry to hear about the break up and I remember her turning to me, putting her hand on my arm and telling me that she had done it. That she'd called off the wedding because she realized she could never truly love a man. That she was gay. And I remember exactly how I felt.

It was the first time I'd ever really known a gay person. I remember my brain cycling the facts that I truly admired and respected and LIKED this woman and that none of that was at all changed by her sexual orientation. I kept trying to see if I felt at all threatened or repulsed by her admission and I didn't. I wasn't sure if that should surprise me or not. I remember, too, wondering if she was telling me this because she was "hitting on me", but I think that was just because I hadn't been in the situation before. We had been friends for months, at that point, and we remained friends for years after.

I say "we remained friends for years after", because Chick was killed in a car accident in the late 1980's. That memory is the only sad memory I have of Chick. And it's a pretty sad one. Most all of my memories of Chick are good ones.

Memories of her and my (then) boyfriend, Rob, sitting at the bar critiquing the women in the bar. "Ooh, look at the legs on that one!", and "MAN, I'd love to get me some of that." Rob was always fond of Chick. For him, I think it was more because of the hope of getting two women into bed with him. I think Chick tolerated him because she liked me. But the two of them together were ALWAYS entertaining.

Memories of she and I sitting on the couch in her new apartment, after she and her longtime girlfriend split up, cracking up as we watched a cocaine-induced Baron hanging window blinds and unpacking boxes for hyperspeed. I knew how badly she was hurting and it was good to see her laugh.

Memories of her rescuing me from the Hideaway one fateful night when a guy I'd broken up with didn't want to take "see ya" for an answer. Her leading me out of the bar to her apartment, where I poured out my heart to her about how miserable that guy was making me, and then we both poured a lot of bourbon and coke.

There are so many memories that I could share with you about Chick, but this post would be much longer than I had intended. Because, where this started was with [Kid 2] attending a party for a gay friend. I've been to a few parties thrown by a gay friend. My, oh my, were they some interesting soiree's!!

Chick (and her girlfriend 'Katie') first introduced me to this song (and I will admit it's disturbing how 80's...among other things...the video looks)...

They played it at every party.

For their male friends.

And also for me.

Nearly immediately, I liked this song. I always associated it with Chick and Katie and the fun I'd had at their parties.

Generally speaking, Rob and I (and later Baron and I) were the only 'straight' couple at these parties. Most of the time, there were about 8-10 couples at their apartment. Once, I arrived to see a very tall, youngish black woman, which a much older white man. Then I found out that the very tall, youngish black woman was not so much a woman after all. He was seriously working that black leather skirt, though.

They were always very nice people. Funny and intelligent and definitely stylish. I always felt more than a little out of place, but Chick always did her best to include me. She'd always introduce me to people and urge me to grab a drink and dance. While I can't say that I "looked forward" to Chick's parties, I can say that I always had fun when I went. And I always came away with a story.

None of which involved gay naked twister. They were regular parties. Parties like everyone else had at the time. Music and snacks and booze and usually some drugs, if you were into those things. People just enjoying each others' company in a very free environment.

The party-goers always seemed so open and nonjudgmental, and that always impressed me. Perhaps it's all about being "out", I don't know. Chick had always been a bit of a rebel, herself, but always so certain of who she was.

[Kid 2]'s social is in a public venue, so the alcohol and drugs should be eliminated from the formula. Plus, things are quite different in the world now...twenty plus years later. The stigma of being gay has not been eliminated, but it has been lessened.

My own children look past those things to know the person inside, and they accept people for who they are, not what "club" they are in. I couldn't be more proud.

I hope she has a wonderful time tonight. A little part of me wishes I could join her. And play "It's Raining Men" for them...;)

This weekend will be marked with picking up our wedding rings, teenagers spending the night at our place, and, from the looks of it, about twenty eight loads of laundry. Possibly twenty nine. As there is rain in the forecast, it's likely something indoors will work better anyway.

So you guys have a great weekend for us, okay?

Oh, swing by and say "Hi" to Tony, if you get a chance. 'K?


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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Who Are You?

...Who? Who? Who? Who?

I was sent this MEME via email and thought, since it had been awhile, I'd share one of these with you guys.

If I was an hour of the day... I would be the hour between 8:00 and 9:00 (AM)
If I was a planet... I would be Saturn
If I was a direction... I would be left (at the fork)
If I was a piece of furniture... I would be a desk (Highlander would so totally be a bookshelf)
If I was a liquid... I would be milk
If I was a sin... I would be lust
If I was a rock... I would be pyrite
If I was a tree... I would be a Fermosa
If I was a fruit... I would be a strawberry
If I was a flower... I would be a stargazer lily
If I was a musical instrument... I would be a saxophone
If I was an element... I would be nitrogen
If I was color... I would be blue
If I was an animal... I would be a calico cat
If I was a sound... I would be rain on a tin roof
If I was music... I would be 'I'm a Bitch'
If I was a music style... I would be rock n' roll
If I was a feeling... I would be 'joy'
If I was a book... I would bePeter Pan and Wendy
If I was a food... I would be pasta
If I was a place... I would be home
If I was a flavor... I would be tomato
If I was a scent... I would be lilac
If I was a word... I would be 'happy'
If I was a verb... I would be 'nurture'
If I was an object... I would be a Food Processor
If I was a part of the body... I would be the hands
If I was a facial expression... I would be a raised eyebrow
If I was a cartoon character... I would be Velma
If I was a movie... I would be "It's a Wonderful Life"
If i was a form.. I would be a triangle
If I was a number... I would be 8
If I was a season... I would be autumn
If I was a sentence... I would be 'Can I help you with that?"

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Now Begins the Incoherent Babbling


That other stuff was SEMI-coherent babbling.

So there.

I heard something I wanted to share with the American Idol fans, but first, I'm still a little traumatized. Was anyone else hypnotized by the hair last night?

I mean it.

I could NOT look away.

Oh, it wasn't because I liked it...or because I thought it looked good.



It was because I could not believe what was there before my naive, unsuspecting eyes.

Doubt he's leaving tonight (no matter how much I may wish otherwise), but thought you guys might enjoy hearing this commercial.

::still shuddering::

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Giving it Up for the Gays

I've recently been thinking about gay marriage again. Hard not to with [Kid 1] being such a vocal proponent. (She gets that from her dear ol' mom, btw.) She pointed me to a little list that I'd like to share with you guys. The tongue-in-cheek is a given, but the points, I think, are pretty well made. Gotta give the younger crowd some props (and extra smart-ass points) for this one.

Top 10 Reasons Gay Marriage Should Be Illegal

01) Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.

02) Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.

03) Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.

04) Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn’t changed at all like many of the principles on which this great country was founded; women are still property, blacks still can’t marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.

05) Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of marriages like Britney Spears’ 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.

06) Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn’t be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren’t full yet, and the world needs more children.

07) Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

08 ) Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That’s why we have only one religion in America.

09) Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That’s why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.

10) Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven’t adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.

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Monday, March 26, 2007


Okay, so I'm already out of the NCAA basketball tournament pool at my office. Having given my $2 and filled in my brackets (indicating that Texas would win and then they, cruelly, dropped out early on), so that someone else will, once again, know the splendor that is winning a $20 pot. 'Tis the season, I suppose.

To that end, I ran across some other brackets today. As I found them timely, I wanted to pass them along. Thought you guys might get a kick out of them, too.

Thanks to Slate, we can now bring brackets to things not-sporty. (Which works just fine for me. Thank you very much.)

Things like The Best Ad Campaign Slogans (Mm, Mm, Good vs. Got Milk?), or The Best Marital Argument (where "Can't you just stop and ask for directions?" takes on "How about some sex for a change?"), The Where Were You When Moments (The OJ Verdict is up against the First Man on the Moon), or, my personal favorite, The Best Movie Deaths (that pits Thelma and Louise's drive off a cliff, against the Nazi's melting in Raiders of the Lost Ark).

As "teams" advance (based solely on your personal opinion), there really is no way you can lose! You will feel like such a winner as your pick advances all the way to the final spot!! Plus, if you throw a twenty into a hat, you are all but guaranteed winning $20! That should make anyone feel good, right?

Though, if you're winning the basketball pool at your office, you probably don't need these.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Flashback Friday!

Hi, Gang! Here we are at another Friday! Has anyone else noticed how quiet things have gotten lately? Raise your hands. Come on. Maybe it's a Calm Before The Storm kinda thing. As wild as things have been at my house lately (three kids and a wedding to plan will do that), it feels anything but calm.

As my upcoming nuptials are in...augh!!...LESS THAN A MONTH!!!, I've been rather busy with details. I'm sure all you chicks out there know what I'm talking about. Oh, and Highlander's got a pretty good idea at this point, too.

Try as I might, it's difficult not to compare some aspects to the first time I did this...just a few months shy of twenty years ago. Things like comparing what my ex and I paid for rings then, and what Highlander and I are paying now. Things like wanting to do a different color scheme this time. Things like how weird it is that I got married on the Fourth of July the first time and Thunder over Louisville the second time. (Sure, I like fireworks as much as the next guy, but really I'm not THAT wild about them.)

In any event, it's put me to mind of a few stories from then that I thought I could share. Only one today, though. Come along.

We're going to the chapel and we're gonna get married...

Last time around, I had a much larger affair. My family, and the Baron's, are both pretty big. And 3/4ths of both families were relatively local. So, we had about 175 people show up that day.

Wanna know who didn't?

One of the groomsmen.

The wedding party consisted of my only sister (as my maid of honor), and Baron's sister, my best friend, and one of Baron's brother's girlfriends (who, five months later, became his wife)(as my bridesmaids), and Baron's oldest younger brother (as his best man), his youngest younger brother, a former roommate, and one of his oldest friends (as his groomsmen).

Baron's friend shared the same first name and the same first initial of their last name and so pronounced themselves, "Brothers of the 'R'". Over the four years that Baron and I had been dating/living together/engaged, I'd heard countless stories of the two of them "back in the day". The affection that Baron still felt for this man was pretty evident. And so, when we were selecting those we wanted to stand up with us at our wedding, when he named this friend, I was not so much surprised, as taken aback.

Yes, I'd heard many stories of this man, but in four years, had never met him. Not once. Baron hadn't spoken to him in at least that long, either. They hadn't really had a falling out, just that they'd lost touch.

He had so many other, closer, friends that I thought he should have asked (mostly because those friends knew both of us pretty well), but he was insistent. It had to be the "R Brother". Who was I to argue? He was the groom. His choice to select groomsmen, right?

So, he called up his old friend, and they made a date to get reacquainted. Baron told him that he was getting married and that it would mean alot if his friend would stand up with him.

We had the friend over for dinner a few days later. Seeing them together was nice. Watching them, as they reminisced about old times. Hearing the friend's spin on stories I'd heard dozens of times. He seemed like a nice guy. And he said he was honored to be included in our wedding. Ah, the salad days.

Most of the folks we'd asked to be in our wedding had limited means. Hell, all of them did. We were pretty young back then. Not that Baron and I were in great shape, but we were doing okay. So, we decided that we'd pay for the tux rentals for all the groomsmen, and the cost to have all the bridesmaid dresses sewn by a friend of Baron's family.

I couldn't tell you what a tux rental is now. Then it was $75. When you multiply that by five (for the groom and all his dudes), it came to what was alot of money for us. But, again, we wanted the day to be special. All the guys went for their tux fittings as the time grew closer. And all the clothes were "reserved", I guess.

Getting married on the Fourth of July, we'd opted to have a casual cook-out at Baron's parent's house as our rehearsal dinner. Which was nice. However, I became a little concerned when Baron's friend didn't show.

We'd seen him a few times over the months between when Baron had rekindled their friendship and the wedding. There didn't seem to be any reason to believe there was a problem.

At first, when Baron called him, he said he'd had to work over a little and was running late, but he'd be there shortly. Not likely he'd get lost, as he lived a couple miles away, and Baron's parent's house was the same one where he and Baron used to hang out during their teenaged years.

But he never showed that night. We went ahead with our celebration and planning and made some notes to pass along to the friend the next day. At the wedding.

That night, after we got home, I was more than a little worried. He could have been sick or hurt or something. I mean, hey, I didn't know the guy all that well, so I wasn't filled with the same confidence that Baron was that he'd show up at all.

At my insistence, Baron called him that night.

"You okay?" "Just wanted to make sure you remembered that the wedding is tomorrow, Man." "You remember where it is, right?" "We'll pick up your tux tomorrow morning when we go to get mine. That will save you from having to stop and pick it up. Just get to the wedding early enough to change." "If something happens and you need a ride or something, you just call us."

So, all the man had to do was show up the next afternoon. That's all. Or, you know, CALL us and say that he had a problem and needed help.

That, as it turned out, was far more difficult than we'd imagined. The next morning, for me, was filled with the unbelievable chaos of getting things delivered to the site, getting chairs and tables set up, getting dressed, getting the bar set up, and so on and so on and so on and so on (Highlander has no idea). And I didn't miss him. Frankly, I wasn't keeping track of the groomsmen. I had, as I said, a few million things going on.

I really didn't notice until I walked down the aisle and saw that we were one short on that side. It didn't even register whick groomsman wasn't there. At that point, there wasn't really anything I could do about it anyway. So, we went ahead as if everything was as we'd planned it, and the wedding turned out fine. As Mike Norton would note, it's only really important that the bride, the groom, and the officiant be there anyway.

After the wedding, we were in the "receiving line", when the friend's sister (and her date) came up and shook our hands. I had to be introduced (as I'd never met them), but she was CLEARLY embarrassed that her brother hadn't shown. I was mad at him, but I wasn't going to let it ruin my day. And I didn't.

We went home that night (we weren't leaving for our honeymoon until the next morning), and I kept expecting the friend to call. So sure I was, that he'd call and say that he'd been in an accident, or that someone in his family had been rushed to the hospital, or that he'd fallen and gotten temporary amnesia. SOMEthing. ANYthing. But he didn't.

We left fairly early the next morning and while on the road (to New York state), Baron and I talked about it. Hey, it was a long road trip, we talked about a great many things. He mused that his friend may not have called the previous night, assuming that we'd left directly for our honeymoon. Okay, sure. That's a reasonable expectation. So, we'd get a call from him (or his next of kin) when we got home. And there'd be some perfectly acceptable excuse why someone who considered himself an old and dear friend would completely diss you at your wedding. After you'd put out $75 for his tux. Yep. So, I'd let that one stay on the back burner, and I'd have a beautiful honeymoon.

And I did. And I did.

When we got back (the following Friday), we got no phone calls. Baron went back out on the road (for his job), the following Monday, and we still got no calls. Weeks and months went by and we still got no calls.

I'd ask Baron if he had tried to call the man. Baron said he had not, and had no plans to do so. Clearly, he wasn't worried about his friend's safety. Maybe previous history had taught him to expect this all along. I can't say.

Finally, just after our first anniversary, Baron mentioned to me that he'd run into his friend. I can't recall now, exactly where. But that he'd talked to him about the situation and his friend had apologized to him and said something like, "Sorry, Man. You know how it is.", or something equally lame that made no attempt to explain why he did it, or why he hadn't felt it necessary, as a FRIEND, to call and let us know he was alive. He didn't even have the class to offer to reimburse us for the $75 we were out because of what he did. And he never, not even to this day, has shown his face around me, or made any attempt to call me or write me anything remotely like an apology. In fact, I don't think Baron ever saw him more than once after that chance meeting during the entire seventeen years we were married.

(Fair warning, Nate, I really DO consider this an affront.)

Now, later today, Highlander and I will be picking up our marriage license. (Kinda cool, huh?) And, as usual, we've got a couple wedding projects that will have us busy this weekend (when the girls will be with their dad).

My parents are picking up [Kid 3] from school, so that they can spend a little time with her before she goes back to her dad's for the weekend. That is going to afford H and I a little time with just the two older girls and we're looking at maybe catching a matinee' later on. Something particularly NOT Disney, if you know what I mean. (In the meantime, you guys go out and have a great weekend. Hope that, wherever you are, you have some lovely weather (especially if you're head won't have it's natural 'hat' to keep it warm this weekend), and the time to enjoy it!!


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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Spinning the Globe

Today, I had someone from Ljubljana, Slovenia show up in my statcounter.

No lie.

Ljubljana, Slovenia.

I have no earthly idea how to even pronounce Ljubljana. And, honestly, had never heard of Ljubljana, Slovenia until just a few minutes ago. (When the discovery drove me here, to share this important bit of information with the likes of you guys.)

Being me, I investigated a little. I mean, really, wouldn't you? Doesn't it totally sound like a made up place? Don't give me that. You know it does!

Believe it or not, though, it's the real deal. Better. It's the freakin' CAPITAL of Slovenia!

They've got a University of Ljubljana, the Ljubljana Castle, and even a Ljubljana Festival there. Seriously, they've got a city map of the place and everything.

You'd think a name like that would be on the tips of everyone's tongues, wouldn't you?

So everyone (except me) already knew about this, huh?

Okay, then, I'm off to find Krung Thep Mahanakhon on a map.

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Observing the Obvious

A couple of observations at lunch today...

#1) Even though I love autumn, I am so ready for "sandal weather" by spring and summer that I'm giddy. And, yes, boys and girls, we are there, right here in River City!!

The downside is that we're barely there and my legs/feet are blindingly white. Also, sandals in the rain, when your toes get wet from the puddles, suck a little. But just a little.

It should be noted that neither of these things will keep me from wearing sandals on any day when temps are going to hit 60. Sorry. Bring sunglasses.

#2) Getting a yummy, delicious, healthy salad for lunch from my favorite local sandwich shop downtown is a good thing. Until you walk back to your office, salad in hand, past the Italian restaurant that happens to have their doors open (because of the warm temps) and get a BIG whiff of all things Italian.

And then you kinda hate your salad a little. And think about giving it to the first homeless person you see (but there's never one around when you need one), or dropping it in such a way as to make it spill out all over the sidewalk, no matter how much of a clutz it will make you appear to the dozens of people walking around out there. So that you have an excuse to go get an alternate lunch at the Italian place. Which is only like two doors back.

But then you don't actually do it. You just fantasize about the smells coming out of that place. While you eat your lettuce. And lie to yourself about how you wouldn't have really done any of that anyway.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Okay, Opus, I've made a big bag of peanut butter sandwiches and I've got the cooler full of bottled water. I called in and left a message at work that should get me covered until Monday morning. Plus, I ran by the grocery and picked up a bag of Depends (hey, it worked for the NASA chick, right?). Highlander totally has the kids under control for a couple days.

So, when, exactly, do you expect to pick me up on your way to Hollywood?

I mean, we're still gonna take Mowgli down, aren't we? (Separated at birth?)

Hmmm, maybe we should leave out the sandwiches...

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Gimme a Head With Hair

Okay, somewhere down there in a comment thread (it shouldn't be hard to find, they're pretty sparse these days), my dear friend AaA, made mention...sort of...of an upcoming charity fundraiser in which he's involved.

Part of me deeply admires him for his sacrifices to help children (of which, I'd like to note, this is only one on a long list), and so, I'll be sending a little something (far too little something, I'm afraid), to help out this cause. Also, I like kiddies, too, so that makes it easy to be supportive.

Now that part of me is easy to deal with. The other part of me. The Martha Stewart on crack that is trying to pull together a budget wedding that doesn't look like a budget wedding in the next couple of weeks (preferably without killing anyone in the process), ran from the computer to the bedroom this morning and shook Highlander awake. All the while shouting at him, "Do you know what YOUR friend is doing? DO YOU? And just DAYS before our wedding!!!"

He cautiously stuck his head out of the covers and said, "Wha...", and rubbed his little eyes (which, I gotta tell you is the most adorable thing, but this morning it was getting no play from me). I began thrashing him and screaming, "WAKE UP!!! WE'RE HAVING A CRISIS!!! HE IS TOTALLY GOING TO RUIN MY WEDDING PICTURES!!!! WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?!?!?!" My head may have been slowly rotating on my neck by this point. I can't remember for sure.

Still not quite awake, I got a "Who are you talking about? And what did they do?". Worse, he was all calm, like it wasn't the apocalypse or anything. Can you believe it???

Incensed, I started spilling, and as I was saying it aloud, I began to realize that I sounded like THE most selfish bitch in the world. And I didn't like that very much. After all, it's not as if he's doing something just to drive me insane (that's just a bonus for him), he's doing something very UN-selfish, to help some kids. And, as I said, I love kids. It sucks when you shame yourself. At 6:30 in the morning, even.

So, I figured the least I can do (to redeem myself for my behavior earlier today) is to throw a few bucks his way, and maybe a few leads. Consequently, if you have a few extra bucks, and can spare them for a good cause (and it is), put them towards having our dear friend, and frequent reader/commenter, Nate, go for the egghead look (I won't even START on how he's got a halfway decent jump on it. I promise.). Plus, if you do help him achieve that WAY hot hairless look (can you say Sottle?), it'll make my wedding pictures totally unique. And that's a good thing. Right?

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But...It's MY Money!!!

I'm sure, if you're reading my fiance's blog (and you should be, he's HIGHLY entertaining), that you're entirely familiar with the number of times each (work) day, he is bombarded with angry people demanding to know the whereabouts of their money. It's deducted from their paychecks and put into this mysterious account, but it's still THEIRS, after all. When Highlander's firm helps each of these folks' employers manage the situation and make sure that IRS regs are adhered to, well, the frustrated employees take out their confusion and ignorance on whomever answers the phone. Far too many times, it happens to be my beloved. Which, because he is such a sweet guy, makes me sad. Not that he can't do the verbal equivalent of the Texas Two-Step with any partner, but like me (and my skates), we only choose to do it when we have no other option.

Now all of that has very little to do with my post. (Except, possibly, for the state of mind.) Shocking, huh?

I realize that the IRS, and the various state Revenue Departments, are pushing for electronic filing. Believe you me, I'm ALL about it! So, in mid January, when I pulled up my favorite free tax software and bitched and moaned about MY money (unlike some sicko's I know who actually enjoy this stuff) and the headaches you have to go through to get it back, I veered a little off course.

The federal return was easy enough to file electronically. (The software provider lets you do it for free...which is right in my price range.) But the state return (which was only going to net a refund of $145) was going to cost $12.95 to file electronically.

Oh sure, it would be processed faster. And, yeah, $145 is like a week's worth of groceries at my house. But paying nearly 10% of the refund to have it processed electronically, when I could just take the data, dump it into a form and stick it in the mail for 39 cents, the make far more sense. Even if it did take several weeks, as opposed to several days, to get the money back.

Well, folks, that was January 14th, when I made that tactical error. Well, technically, I guess, mailing it on January 15th, was the clincher on the deal. I knew my much larger federal return would be in my checking account in two weeks (or less)...and it I didn't worry overly.

It's now March 21st and I've seen neither hide, nor hair of MY $145. And it's beyond "starting to piss me off". I mean, if the government was holding my money because I'd been involved in a federal drug sting, I guess I'd be bothered, but I'd understand why. If I owed back child support, or an outstanding student loan, or had a judgement against me, or something like that, ditto.

But none of that is the case.

I called the Department of Revenue today, in an attempt to make sure they'd received it. Somehow, in my mind, I was thinking that maybe it got lost in the mail and I could just go ahead and file it electronically now. But, no. They received it. And they are allowing themselves a leisurely twelve weeks to process paper returns.

UGH!! They're just dicking around with MY MONEY!


That said, I've got about another three weeks before I can expect to see (feel, smell, taste) MY MONEY!

Which is aggravating.

But, I've learned my lesson.

Extortion will do that.

Next year, I'll do things a little differently.

Cross my heart.

I'll cough up the $12.95 to get MY MONEY. Now please don't hurt me.

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Spring is in the Air

Spring Flowers (tulips are my favorite of these)
Spring Break
Spring Green
Mountain Spring
Spring Foals (hey, it's Kentucky, what do you expect?)
Spring Cleaning
Spring Lambs
Spring Wedding (::grin::)
Bed Springs
Spring Greetings
Spring into Action
Spring Water
Silver Springs (you could be mine...)
Rites of Spring
Spring Training
Watch Springs
Spring is in the Air
Natural Springs
Spring Showers
Hot Springs
Spring Framework (for the tech geeks)
Spring Rolls (mmmmmmmmmmm!)
Spring Fever
Spring Equinox

I'm just sayin'...Welcome to the first day of spring, 2007!

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Monday, March 19, 2007

These Small Hours

Another busy weekend (will there be anything else between now and the wedding?), but wanted to share just a snippet or two...

* Selling Girl Scout cookies at a local grocery with [Kid 3]. She had such a blast doing it and was actually pretty good at it. Not to mention, it gave her the opportunity to hang out with her friends a little over the weekend, which is something she doesn't get to do much.

* [Kid 1] had a dinner party on Saturday. The parents of the Academic Team captain thought that the kids deserved a formal dinner in celebration of their year. I thought it was a sweet gesture on their part. So I was trying to think of something to send along and, thinking that a bottle of wine would be a little inappropriate (given the kids' ages), I was having a difficult time coming up with something else. And then it hit me. A celebratory bottle of the bubbly is exactly the right thing to send along. So, when [Kid 3] and I finished hawking cookies, we picked up a couple bottles of non-alcoholic sparking grape juice. Not knowing the menu, I picked up a bottle of red and a bottle of white. A few ribbons to match the school colors tied around the necks of the bottles and they were good to go. As I understand it, they were a hit.

* Playing Apples to Apples with the kids Sunday evening. All the kids. [Kid 3] inadvertently playing the best card of the night (that's my spin, anyway). The green card played was "BORING" and she threw out Gen. George S. Patton. When my folks first moved us to River City, my mother had a standard tourist plan for when our out of town family would visit. There were two stops. One was the Patton Museum. Which I have visited dozens of times. Believe me, one time was plenty. One of my dad's brothers and his wife still joke about how many times my mother took them there. It was, without a doubt, the most excrutiatingly boring trip ever. Of course, [Kid 3] didn't know that when she played the card, but she hit a chord, nonetheless. Her response, "I don't know. He just sounded boring." Well, maybe not to most people, but definitely to me.

* [Kid 2] BEGGING Highlander and I to chaperone an upcoming field trip at her school. We're going to try to work it out for her, as it obviously means alot to her.

* I only got one of two wedding projects STARTED over the weekend, when I was hoping to have them both completed. Ugh! I did find out some good news about the wedding location, though. But there are still those who just don't get that my life is "none of their damned business" and stop in here multiple times each and every day, so I'll have to share that bit of news elsewhere.

A crazy, hectic KIDS ARE HOME weekend, but as Rob Thomas says...

our lives are made
in these small hours
these little wonders,
these twists & turns of fate
time falls away,
but these small hours,
these small hours still remain


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Friday, March 16, 2007

Feeling Mushy...

Haven't done it in a while, but as I'm sitting here listening to love songs (for the wedding reception), it's put me to mind that I haven't embarrassed my fiance' with a public display of affection in some time. So, I'm overdue, huh?

Maybe it's the music, maybe it's the mood, but I just wanted to say that spending time with you is never second best...that I will love you as long as I live...that I love you and your beautiful soul...that you're the inspiration...that my feelings are true, I really love you, you're my best friend...that I am, I am, I AM the luckiest...

Thanks for making this part of my life so incredibly special. Thanks for putting my needs, and the girls' needs, first.


I never, ever thought it could be like this. I appreciate you correcting that particular misperception. It's so much grander than I ever imagined it could be.


Thanks for showing me how wonderful the happily ever after really is.

I love you, Baby!

(Feel free to gag, Mr. Norton. And, Nate, you'll likely need an insulin shot. Sorry, guys, you'll just have to deal with it. I'm adrift in it and the shore is nowhere in sight...;)

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An Oral Report Public Service Announcement

Just a quickie for the pet owners out there. The FDA has recalled cat and dog food after several pet deaths from kidney failure. I know all of you responsible pet owners out there love your animals, and I would hate to think of something bad happening to them. Check your labels and be careful!!

Please note that no kitties were harmed by the Oral Reporter during the posting of this public service announcement. In fact, truth be told (and I always do), the little fella above is just napping. Cross my heart.

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Flashback Friday!

As you can imagine, as I get closer to the wedding, I've been having some little mini Flashbacks of the last time I did this. But that is not what I want to share today. (Perhaps, as it gets a little closer to the Highlander/Superfiancee' nuptials, I'll share a few of them.) For today's episode, however, I thought I'd share a little humor of another married couple I used to know some years ago.

Just after Ronald Reagan tightened his fist around my Pell Grant's throat, back in 1983, I got a job working nights in a laundrymat. It wasn't a great job, but it had it's perks.

Relatively quiet at night, leaving me time to read or chat with certain of my favorite customers. One in particular was a petite redheaded woman that I'll call Darla (for the purposes of this story).

When I met Darla, she was more than a little pregnant with her first child. She, and her husband Cliff (a tall, blond conventionally very attractive man), lived in the neighborhood and she'd drop in once or twice a week to do their laundry. Darla and I got along well and after a disagreement with the laundrymat management (when they became upset because I insisted on having them come and close up one night when I had 103 temperature and had to leave to go to the hospital) she offered me a job.

She had a little home business making craft baskets. I knew absolutely nothing about baskets and while I was a little "crafty", she'd certainly never seen anything of that. But she liked me and she didn't want to see me in that predicament.

Darla's husband was an attorney, which afforded her the opportunity to put aside her teaching credentials and make a living doing something she loved more. I could go on at some length about the type of cases Darla's husband regularly handled, but let's just say that his clients were not the cream of society and move on from there.

Often, Cliff's clients bartered with him to pay their bill. Frequently, during my time at their home (working), a new stereo system or tv would show up, as payment on someone's bill. I don't think any of us believed that those items were purchased, you know what I mean?

When Baron and I were dating, Cliff was looking for a law clerk and I recommended him for the job. Consequently, it became evident, pretty quickly, that Cliff didn't only take merchandise from some of his female clients.

In any event, Darla and Cliff cared about each other and, I suppose, because she had a nice life in a nice house, Darla tended to embrace the naivety whenever she could. I never quite understood that, but, figured to each his own. However, it would have been a mistake to consider Darla meek or mousy. She had no difficulty getting her point across when she wanted to. I could share a few stories that would clarify that, but one in particular comes to mind.

It was summer and Darla had had her baby at that point. A tow-headed boy with brilliant blue eyes and a sweet laugh. She was planning a trip to Tennessee to visit with her mother, but Cliff had trials coming up and had to stay in town. It meant I would be off from work a week. It could have been a thing, but I was okay with it. I mean, I was in my early twenties, I was sure, if I thought about it real hard I could find something to do with my time.

When Darla returned, she'd apparently found a few things that disturbed her. Of course, I only found out about it retroactively. Since this is my flashback, that's the way you'll get them, too.

Darla had come home on Saturday, but I didn't see her, or talk to her, until I came to work on Monday morning. As usual, she had a pitcher of bloody mary's waiting. (Did I mention this job had a few perks?)

We sipped on bloody mary's and set to work on a big order that had to be shipped to Japan by the end of the week. Though I was genuinely interested in her trip, I asked her how it went more to make small talk than anything else. She seemed pleased to tell me about how she'd enjoyed seeing her mother and how her parents had spoiled the baby rotten. She loved going home and always looked forward to it.

Jokingly, I asked if the house had been a wreck when she got home on Saturday. (Cliff was notorious for being to busy to do anything around the house.) The conversation, which had been bubbly and light, suddenly turned more serious. Her entire demeanor shifted and she began to tell me how she'd come home Saturday to a house that had been cleaner than it was when she'd left.

Most of us would assume that her husband was doing something sweet to welcome her and their son home. Knowing Cliff, neither Darla, nor I, made that foolish leap. I didn't say much, instead letting her talk through the events of the weekend. This was MUCH juicier than shopping with her mother.

Darla mentioned that it struck her odd to see candles on the dining room table when she came in the back door. Candles that hadn't been there when she left. Consequently, the suspicions started almost immediately. When she went upstairs and began putting unpacking suitcases, she noticed candles in the bedroom that hadn't been there before, either. Worse, the sheets had been changed. Further inspection indicated that, while no other laundry had been done in her absence, the sheets that were previously on her bed, had been laundered and put in the linen closet.

Now, all of that could have meant nothing for some couples. Could have, in fact, been a sign indicating the anticipation of a romantic welcome home. But Cliff was DEFINITELY not that guy. And Darla was smart enough to know that.

The clincher, apparently, came when a neighbor from across the street stopped over to report seeing a strange car in the driveway. Overnight.


I wasn't quite sure what to say to her. It had seemed odd to me that she'd been all upbeat and casual when I first got there, if she'd just found out that her husband had been having an affair. Even though she seemed serious, she never really got emotional about it. I remember thinking I'd be angry and hurt and I'd likely be crying. She simply wasn't. She sat there working on baskets the entire time she was talking to me.

At some point I said, "So what are you going to do, Darla?", because, as we all know, you have to do something in that situation, right? As if lifted from a trance, the 'serious' left her face and she smiled and replied, "Oh, I've already done something, it's all done." in the upbeat, bubbly voice with which we'd begun our chat that morning. It was most eerie. But, oh was I ever curious.

For real, you can't leave someone hanging with that. It could have been like in the movies, where you ask "so what DID you do?" and the crazy woman tells you the body is cut up in pieces in the garage and then pulls a big honking knife out to cut your nosy ass up, too. 'Cause she had the look.

But it didn't go down like that. D'uh, or else there would be no flashback, right?

The "what DID you do" turned out to be pretty bizarre, though. She didn't talk to him about the situation at all over the weekend. On Sunday, they went to church as a family and he never had any indication that she was upset with him...or that he'd been found out. They'd taken the baby to the park afterwards and had a (from all accounts) very nice day. After putting the baby to bed, the two of them had planned a romantic evening.

Darla had cooked a nice supper for two and had picked up some wine. None of it was poisoned, or even drugged, but he had enough wine that it made him quite sleepy. That worked well for her. She'd helped him upstairs to their bed, tucked him in, and then waited. Waited for him to fall deeply asleep.

This was years before anything like FATAL ATTRACTION or SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT, so when she got to this part of the story, my imagination was pages and pages ahead of her, while my attention was quite rapt.

She'd wanted to hit him where he lived. And she believed that if he weren't such a pretty boy, the other woman (or women) wouldn't be interested. (There's some truth to that theory, I suppose, but I don't think she took into consideration that some of those women were just paying off a bill and it wouldn't matter what he looked like.) She didn't want to do anything too permanent, so pulling a Lorena Bobbitt was out. Finally, she settled on shaving his head.


He was so drunk that he never woke and she was able to turn him this way and that until he was totally baldheaded. She'd made a terrible mess on the pillowcases, she'd said, but it had gone pretty much as she'd have like it to have gone.

I was more than a little taken aback, but I gotta admit, I got a little charge out of the "justice" in it. And when Cliff came home early from work, wearing a ballcap, it was all I could do to keep from chortling in his face.

At the time, Baron was still clerking for him and when we both got home (we were living together at the time) after work that day, I just HAD to share the story. Baron's reply was that he'd "wondered why Cliff had been wearing a baseball cap all day." Which had me rolling in the floor laughing.

Over the next weeks, as his hair grew back in, Cliff had some issues with judges who felt it disrespectful for him to wear a hat in court, and got a good deal of ribbing from other lawyers in his firm.

Darla didn't leave him, though. He'd given her $500 to go buy herself "something nice" and had apologized to her. She accepted those terms (which I could not have) and they worked through things.

But I always thought about him in that hat, for months and years after his hair was back to it's former stylish cut. And remembering her telling me about it and the calm look on her face (and in her eyes) when she did. While I never thought about her quite the same afterwards, it's possible that she sparked a little something in me that day. Though I'm certain that Highlander will never have to test that...;)

Plans this weekend are just loaded up with kid stuff. They are due back from their father's on Saturday and I can hardly wait to see them!! Luckily, while the weather has turned a little cooler than it was last weekend (when temps were in the mid 70's), we have avoided the snow that our northern friends were expecting.

Hopefully, I can get a couple wedding projects knocked out this afternoon, so I'll have plenty of time to enjoy my girls this weekend.

Have a great one everybody!!


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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Out, Out, Damned Spot?

I'm sure this isn't the last time that I will believe I've seen it all, but this morning, as I was looking for something else ENTIRELY, I stumbled into this.

And it made my eyes bleed to read it.

I, literally, had to stop, back up, and read it again (so certain, I was, that I'd somehow mixed it up while rushing through it). Sadly, it didn't change on the reread.

The Baptists, their leadership housed right here in River City (behind bulletproof glass, no less), is now admitting that homosexuality may, indeed, be biological.

That's right. Read it again, if you don't believe me.

Huge steps for this group, I agree. However, they offset that particular wisdom by insisting that even if homosexuality is biological, it's still bad and this flawed genetic predisposition can still be corrected. Perhaps even prenatally. (Because, you know, if we can fix it while they're still in the womb, they won't be "born that way".)

And before you go to the inevitable "abortion" conclusion, let me just add that Dr. Mohler believes that even if you have to raise a child who is an abomination and will be condemned to Hell because of his/her sexual orientation, it's still preferable to abortion, so it should continue to be opposed, even in such wretched circumstances.

Well, THAT'S good!! I'd hate to think how many narrowminded, God-fearing conservatives would be rethinking their stance on abortion if they thought they could, through genetic testing, determine that their children were...::gasp::...homosexual.

It make me mad to see how these religious zealots, when forced to deal with science and the world they live in, still manage to twist something hateful out of something natural. I suppose trying to accept that their previous interpretation of the teachings, or even that the prophets who wrote those teachings, could have been wrong, is too much to ask. I suppose that admitting to the centuries-long mistake and taking steps to embrace people who they have so actively harmed with their disdain and vitriol, would be too much to ask. Much easier to explain it away with original sin infecting us even in our genetic code. (Plus, you know, continue to treat the situation as needing correction.)

The explanation (and recommended treatment for the "affliction") will certainly cover them on the gay marriage issue, too. As condoning such a thing would clearly conflict with proposed efforts to help the gay community overcome what Baptists will view as a 'birth defect' (instead of the deviant lifestyle choices which was the previous stupid reason that Baptists clung to heretofore).

I love what Aletha Fields, a minister at a progressive church here in town, had to say about Dr. Mohler's comments...

"What would be really interesting if there would be a prenatal test that would detect and determine bigotry," said Fields, whose group ministers to gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered persons.

"I wonder what the treatment would be -- I suppose some love-thy-neighbor hormones and some peace hormones," she said.

Right on!! Let's see the Baptists step up to help correct some of THOSE issues!! Doesn't that seem far more Christian anyway?

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Forgive Us Our Trespasses

This post was sparked by a recent news headline. Apparently, the Pope has upheld the catholic church's policy on celibacy for priests. Of course, you'd have to assume that they had been celibate for that to really work. And, well, there's just so darned much evidence to the contrary.

I suppose if they changed paths now, it would appear to be admitting that the previous policy was 'wrong'. While not completely exclusive to this country, the evidence does seem to support the fact that it's the American priests who seem to have a tougher time maintaining celibacy than their international counterparts do.

I'm no authority, but it's not as though the catholic church hasn't made changes to long-held doctrine before. They should certainly be able to address issues in the world today, without completely dismissing them or abandoning their religion altogether. I'm thinking that rampant pedophilia amongst their holiest members would certainly be high on the list of issues that need some attention.

One of our local DJ's was pondering this subject on the airwaves when I came to work this morning. He had worked through the theory that the only men who would willingly agree to a self-imposed celibacy (and thus join the priesthood) were men ashamed of their own (in their eyes) deviant homosexuality.

Men in prison certainly have the appearance of an imposed celibacy. No one can argue that that is, in part, the intent. Yet, we all know that homosexuality and rape are very real aspects of being in that situation. Human beings, like any animal, will find a way.

The promiscuity seen in our own culture in the 1920's was in direct response to the staid Victorian era. Similarly, those who were part of the summer of love were responding to the very square 1950's. Sadly, when there are cases of a society feeling a need to enforce sexual repression, things like female circumcision become acceptable.

Now, I'm not going to get into the whole thing about why women can't be priests (or I'd be frothing by the time I got done), but I've never understood why a priest couldn't be married. Certainly, other religions have been able to accept their spiritual leaders' basic human needs without imposing unrealistic expectations on them. Expectations that many priests feel are a significant burden to bear.

I'm not foolish enough to think that something as simple as allowing priests free access to 'wimmen' would allow the world to wipe their collective brows and utter a resounding "Whew!" to the messy business of inappropriate sexual conduct between priests and altar boys, but I believe (and I'm not alone here) that it would certainly alleviate a hefty percentage of the problem. Continuing with the same ineffective response to the very real problem seems entirely lacking in wisdom to me. And that stuff just boggles me brain!

I suppose I care about this at all because I have children who are members of this faith. And I'd rather that the faith incorporated a more realistic approach, rather than continuing to hold fast to long outdated traditions. Of course, people have been saying that for centuries.

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Mistakes Were Made

Is it me? Or is it a pretty "ballsy" republican (and some of them really are pretty "ballsy"), given the current political climate, that quotes Richard Nixon when the shrapnel is ringing around his head? (And why can't I already find a photoshopped pic of Alberto Gonzales with Dick's trademark "V for Victory"'s?)

Granted, the whole "mistakes were made", followed by "and there'll be no punishment" plan, is SOP in this administration every bit as much as it was in Nixon's day. (Gonzales is certainly old enough to remember when Nixon was saying it...I that can't be the excuse.)

Of course, if Cheney really is writing everyone's parts, it may just be that Gonzales tried to go all 'cowboy' (that's not 'gay cowboy'), thinking on his own, and really fucked it up.

Likely, as in the case of Scooter, they're not returning his calls right now.

Maybe they just don't care anymore. So what if they get caught doing something amoral and/or illegal? What's the worst that can happen? Clearly, they own the Justice Department and the Supreme Court. Congress couldn't get them out faster than they'd be out anyway. A smack on the nose with a rolled up newspaper, maybe.

Okay, okay, I get it. We're not gonna worry about the consequences of our actions before we act. It's a little pre-school for me, but if we're going that route, how about owning a few more mistakes then, while we're at it?

Mistakes were made when we insisted there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, when our own operatives were telling us there weren't.

Mistakes were made when Bush tampered with phone lines and private communications of Americans.

Mistakes were made when this administration deliberately put an undercover CIA agent in danger by making public her personally identifiable information.

Mistakes were made when our vice-president gave a hunting buddy a face full of buckshot and no charges were brought against him.

Mistakes were made when the rights of the American people to decide the outcome of U.S. political races was taken away.

Mistakes were made when Bush ignored information regarding the levies in New Orleans just before Hurricane Katrina.

Mistakes were made when FEMA was unable (or unwilling) to respond in the aftermath of that same cataclysmic event, due to funds being earmarked for the Iraq War.

Mistakes were made in deliberately downplaying global warming and doing NOTHING to halt the environmental impact.

Mistakes were made at Abu Ghraib (though the administration would tell you that those mistakes are in the form of information being leaked) where human rights were violated and torture was not only condoned, but ordered.

Mistakes were made when social programs were cut, and then replaced by funding of faith-based programs.

Mistakes were made with cronyism towards Halliburton and heretofore quashed inquiries into the numerous no-bid contracts they've been awarded.

Mistakes were made when Mark Foley was buggering underage interns and the republicans were working hot and heavy to cover that up.

Mistakes were made when we doubled the national debt in five short years.

I have to wonder how many more "little mistakes" can be swept into hiding. And how long it will take to net Bush the same fate that Nixon earned...

In the meantime, I'm counting the days and hoping that the shenanigans will stop before any more damage can be done.

History tells us that, sometimes, it takes a really long time for us to own these mistakes in the first place, let alone do something about them. Shouldn't we be trying to think things out on the front end a little better, so that we don't make the mistakes in the first place? We are still trying to teach our kids this lesson, right?

Hmmm, perhaps this time will be different.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

No Ticket Series - III

Haven't had much desire to do one of these lately, as I seem to be on You Tube constantly already. However, I was thinking about this and how much several of us seem to like American Idol. Sooooo, it just kind of seemed natural to do a "Best of American Idol" concert, that has some of my favorite performances from the show.

I'm certain I'm going to leave out far too many great ones, especially those that are duplicate song choices (see Lakisha Jones "Midnight Train to Georgia" and Vonzell Solomon "I Have Nothing" to name a couple), but some of these are pretty memorable renditions. Hope you all enjoy this one!


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Monday, March 12, 2007

Monday! Monday! Monday!

A deliciously gorgeous weekend behind us here in River City!! Temps in the 60's and even 70's!! Highlander and I got many wedding errands (and some other stuff) done and even got to squeeze in a nice walk yesterday evening. (Which is always good for the ol' sphygmomanometer!)

We didn't get to the movies (to be able to use our free tix), but plan to on Thursday, when H is off this week. Speaking of movies, I caught most of AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH on Showtime last night. I'd been wanting to see it for some time, but just hadn't been able to work it out. I was truly entranced. I've been an Al Gore fan for some time, but to see him lecturing was really something. He's so incredibly smart and still has a sense of wit about him. How anyone could see that film and not see the HUGE positive impact on politics in this country that he could have, given the chance, is beyond me. Really.

Now, I don't frequent the Tinfoil Hat blogs that my significant other sometimes does. But I don't think Al's in that group anyway. I think he makes it all so clear with scientific evidence and common sense and it's impossible to dispute him. Better, he tells you who is disputing global warming and why...and he's got that evidence, too.

I really hope he doesn't just take his Oscar and sit back with it. As Highlander says, "We need to re-elect Al Gore in 2008!" Maybe this time, it'll take.

A few things ahead this week. A doctor appointment (nothing serious) and some submission stuff for H (keep your fingers crossed, gang). I finished my parents' taxes and need to get those printed out and routed to them. Had I not broken our printer at home, it would be no big deal. But, noooooo, I couldn't be trusted with the electronics. Bad, bad, Superfiancee!

For now, though, it's Shop Drawing City around here. Steel doors/frames, Painting, Fire Alarm Systems, and Masonry Accessories, just to name a few. Pity me. It's just that bad!

Hope all of you are having a Mild Monday! Or, you know, are buying the first round...

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Don't Look Back

Likely you've already heard the news about Brad Delp (though not at Abject Conjecture...;)

Brad Delp, if you don't know, was the lead singer of Boston. If you're too young (or uneducated) to know who Boston is, you likely shouldn't be hanging around this neighborhood. ::shaking my cane::

Growing up, everybody I knew had this album, and "More Than a Feeling" was EVERYWHERE on the airwaves. Brad Delp was the one belting it out. His voice is an indelible part of my youth.

I never got to see them in concert (like far too many bands that I loved), but, thanks to my old friend, You Tube, here's a much younger Brad Delp (and Boston) belting one out and taking me back.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Flashback Friday!

I haven't quite gotten over the shock of Sabrina and Sundance being sent home last lieu of HALEY and SANJAYA...what are people THINKING?!?!?!? PLEASE put down your crack pipes before calling the tollfree voting numbers!! I'm begging you!

Yes, yes, they FINALLY sent Antonella home, and it's unlikely that Sabrina or Sundance would have made it all the way, and, yes, I'm sure the drama of those choices added to the final 12 'event', but Sabrina? She has a great voice!! She had at least a few weeks left before she should have been cut. I suppose I should just move on to other matters, though. As ranting about American Idol isn't likely to get any of us anywhere.

I've been thinking about it and I'm not sure I can reign in this week's Flashback Friday! I fear I will be rambling on more tangents than even I usually do. Frightening, I know.

A couple of things became juxtaposed in my mind this week and led me to this one, I guess. The second of those things, the one that made it click into place, was part of a conversation with my sister yesterday evening. She had dropped by for a visit and we were chatting with my girls when an incident from our (mine and my younger sisters', that is) past crept into the conversation. I haven't thought about it in years. Immediately, though, I realized it would be this week's edition. For good or otherwise.

You see, I was 17 and my sister was 16, in February of 1979. (We're a whopping 12 1/2 months apart. Go, Mom!) I had gotten my driver's permit some time before the incident in question (a delay because of some surgery my mom had at the time), and she'd just gotten hers.

Both of us, as you can imagine, were chomping at the bit to get our own cars and do far more driving than we had been. Which likely led to a rather bad decision on our part. Even for teenagers.

There had been a death in the family. In an attempt to make it as clear as possible, let's say that my mother (who was my grandmother's eldest) has 5 half brothers and sisters. Their father adopted my mother when she was 3. At some point, when my mother was a teenager, and after WWII, my step-grandfather abandoned his family. He, literally, went out for a pack of cigarettes and never came home.

Ever, again.

My grandmother tried to find him for a good many years. Begging his family for help raising the man's large family. But it was in vain. They likely knew where he was, but they weren't going to help her.

Because he'd been in the army, she was able to continue to draw benefits for her children and, at the time of this story, a pension. In any event, in February of 1979, my step-grandfather died. I'd never met the man. My grandmother had long since moved on. He was a non-entity to me in most ways. Everything except his name.

Ironically, his family had called my grandmother when the man died. She hadn't seen or heard from him in more than twenty years, but her brother-in-law (I don't say 'former', because she was never divorced) called her. Interesting that he had known where she was all along. He wanted her to know that her husband had been living in Phoenix and that he was dead. All those years struggling to raise his children and they wait until he's dead to contact her. But it gets better.

The reason he'd called was because he expected her to do something about the funeral arrangements. I'm totally serious.

My grandmother was a bit of a spitfire (oh, yeah, totally genetic), but she had loved the man. Further, she had children with him. She was conflicted, however, because she had been in a long-term relationship with the only man I ever knew as a grandfather and didn't want to hurt him.

So she called my mother, and she asked her to do this for her. My mother could never refuse her, so she, my dad, and one of my mom's brothers flew out to Phoenix to clear out the tiny apartment and make arrangements to bring his body back to Kentucky. (I remember my mother telling me that, when they walked into his apartment, the first thing they saw was a tiny photograph of all of the kids, that was sitting on a nightstand near his bed.)

It was a very strange time. My mother's two sisters and one of the other boys were furious that anyone was doing this. The man had abandoned them, after all. They were still harboring some hurt, and were fiercely defensive of their mother, who had been put in an unimaginable position all those years ago.

Given our ages, my mother decided to trust us on our own, while they went out west to handle these things.

You are right to groan. Even in the presence of tragedy, we were, first and foremost, teenagers.

I will quantify what follows by saying that we did not throw even one party. Not one. Also, we did not burn down the house. So, I'd like a little credit for that, please.

We didn't touch the car the first two days. Not at all. But when we heard a weather report indicating icy conditions coming overnight, and we were expecting our parents back the next day, we wanted to go to the grocery to get some things to cook dinner for them and that way they wouldn't have to go out in the bad weather. That was the justification, anyway.

So we stole the car.

The grocery was maybe 3/4 of a mile. Certainly close enough that we could have walked. Sure, we would have both had to go to carry the bags, but it wasn't as if we weren't both going anyway.

But, you know, we figured we could get it done faster with the car and we'd be right back, so who'd be the wiser, right? I was funny, even then!

I drove. My sister was such a chicken. And it was all going pretty well, too. Got to the grocery. Parked the car in an actual space. Sure, I was nervous, but I was rockin' the grand theft auto in a big way.

Of course, we both kept thinking we'd see a neighbor or someone would just know we only had permits. My sister explained, though that we had TWO permits, so that was the same has having ONE license. Which made TOTAL the time.

But we didn't see anyone we knew. Which may us feel we were home free. Of course, we weren't.

While we were in the store, picking up just a few bags of groceries, the temperature kept dropping. When we came out, the car wouldn't start. We kept trying, but it just wouldn't cooperate. I don't know if it was the car. Or the cold. Or my inexperience (maybe I flooded it, I don't know). But the damned thing wouldn't start. And my parents were due home in like 12 hours.

We walked home. Leaving my parents' car in the grocery parking lot. I remember we kept talking about what we were going to do...

SF: Look, we can say it was stolen or something.

SF SISTER: Isn't there anyone you know that could help us get it home?

SF: If we can't get it home, they're gonna be really mad!

SF SISTER: Maybe we should be walking in another direction...instead of towards home...

Granted, it was a pretty good suggestion, given the mess we had to clean up, but hardly the most practical option.

So, after we put the groceries away, and hurriedly made out our wills, we walked next door and asked our neighbor to help us. Gratefully, he did.

In the icy conditions, he took me back up the grocery. After trying to jump the car, unsuccessfully, he chained it to the back of his pick up truck and towed it home, parking it in front of the house. That is to say, not in the driveway where my parents had left it.

They were, as you'd expect, pretty furious when they got home. Upset, I'm sure, because they felt betrayed. They'd trusted us and we'd let them down. Plus there was the whole thing where the car was broken and we could have wrecked it (and the insurance wouldn't cover us driving it) and somewhere way down the list, "we could've gotten killed". Lastly, there was the immense guilt of, "I was away dealing with getting my long lost stepfather's effects in order and arranging for his burial and THIS is what you do to me?" Of course, by that point we were wishing we had been killed in a car crash. My sister was giving me that I Told You We Should Have Run Away look, but I couldn't be bothered with that. I countered with a Shut Up, Bitch, Don't Make Me Put A Beat Down On You look, which ended that whole non-existent conversation right there.

The fact that we had done this so that we could cook a welcome home dinner (which we still did) didn't seem to insulate us from the full-on wrath. (Of course, it had been a tenuous excuse at best anyway). Having teens of my own now, I guess I'm in a better place to understand it. Grown-up implications and all.

The warden handed down a month-long grounding. And it was even longer before we were allowed around the car again. I don't recall what exactly was wrong with the car, but it was something that was easily (and thankfully, inexpensively, fixed). As of this date, our criminal records have been expunged due to our status as juveniles at the time of the incident.

Sometimes, I wonder what deviltry my own girls will put me through. I've been exceptionally lucky in that regard. How much longer can I expect that to hold out? I don't know, but you better believe I'm gonna ride it as long as I can.

This weekend, I'm taking them back to spend a week with their dad. Always hard for me, but Highlander is always there to help me through. Before they get away, though, we have a picnic in the park scheduled for this afternoon (when temps are supposed to hit SEVENTY...WooHoo!!).

On tap this weekend are a couple wedding related items (ordering our rings, picking up a few decoration items, and possibly working on a cardbox idea I had), doing my folks' taxes, and maybe catching a movie. Mostly, we're hoping to have some quiet time to relax a little before the week starts up with a furor once again. (Though my next week HAS to be a little easier, as Lexus' last day is today!)

Hoping that all of you have a restful weekend! Don't steal any cars...but if you do, try to give a little love...;)


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Thursday, March 08, 2007

College Liberals

I got the following email forward from my conservative co-worker this morning. You remember him. He's the one who believes any old crap that his 'publican friends send him. Truth is optional (and CERTAINLY not required).

So, here's the email forward...

Subject: College Liberals

Sometimes, extreme liberal ideals seem much different when their outcomes directly affect you...
Father-Daughter Talk
A young woman was about to finish her first year of college. Like so many others her age, she considered herself to be a very liberal Democrat, and among other liberal ideals, was very much in favor of higher taxes to support more government programs, in other words redistribution of wealth.

She was deeply ashamed that her father was a rather staunch Republican, a feeling she openly expressed. Based on the lectures that she had participated in, and the occasional chat with a professor, she felt that her father had for years harbored an evil, selfish desire to keep what he thought should be his.

One day she was challenging her father on his opposition to higher taxes on the rich and the need for more government programs. The self-professed objectivity proclaimed by her professors had to be the truth and she indicated so to her father. He responded by asking how she was doing in school.

Taken aback, she answered rather haughtily that she had a 4.0 GPA, and let him know that it was tough to maintain, insisting that she was taking a very difficult course load and was constantly studying, which left her no time to go out and party like other people she knew. She didn't even have time for a boyfriend, and didn't really have many college friends because she spent all her time studying.

Her father listened and then asked, "How is your friend Audrey doing?"

She replied, "Audrey is barely getting by. All she takes are easy classes, she never studies, and she barely has a 2.0 GPA. She is so popular on campus; college for her is a blast. She's always invited to all the parties, and lots of times she doesn't even show up for classes because she's too hung over."

Her wise father asked his daughter, "Why don't you go to the Dean's office and ask him to deduct a 1.0 off your GPA and give it to your friend who only has a 2.0. That way you will both have a 3.0 GPA and certainly that would be a fair and equal distribution of GPA."

The daughter, visibly shocked by her father's suggestion, angrily fired back, "That's a crazy idea, how would that be fair! I've worked really hard for my grades! I've invested a lot of time, and a lot of hard work! Audrey has done next to nothing toward her degree. She played while I worked my tail off!"

The father slowly smiled, winked and said gently, "Welcome to the Republican party."

Now give me a minute. I want to say this right, but I'm a liberal, and I've been one since college. So, you know, I may have some limitations.

According to this (I'm hesitant to call it a joke as it seems to be humorless) note, Republicans believe that those in this country who don't have as much as others are lacking because they are shiftless and lazy. That, if they worked for it, they'd have exactly the same things that the powerful and affluent have. Yeah, see I don't believe that. Mostly, because it's stupid.

This completely eliminates the reality of things like inherited wealth and power {See Rockefellers, Kennedys, Hiltons, ad infinitum). It completely disregards the number of people (we'll call them lawyers and politicians) who are morally deficit and don't have a problem screwing people (predominantly the less fortunate schmucks we're talking about here) to get what they want. Maybe the less fortunate can't force themselves to be back-stabbing thieves with no morals, and I don't think it's a better thing to make them.

The note implies that the ONLY way that people have gotten to the "top" has been by good old fashioned hard work, and that's a crock of shit. It also implies that people in tragic circumstances (hurricane Katrina victims, the disabled, those displaced by massive factory lay-offs, people dealing with the impact of a deceased spouse, or a child who has lost both parents for just a very few examples) have somehow brought their lot on themselves because they were out partying all night instead of working harder. That, is an even larger crock of shit.

There simply is no discernible correlation between the daughter "gifting" her friend a percentage of her GPA to make them equal across the board, and the rich paying a higher percentage of taxes to bring the lower and/or middle classes to a point of equality with them. Never gonna happen. Never. Such a proposition is ludicrous.

The trivialization of the very real economic hardship of millions of people being compared to a school GPA is beyond insulting. Yes, liberals advocate more social programs (both government-sponsored and otherwise) to help the less fortunate. And much as we might dream of a more reasonable distribution of wealth, we're liberals, not communists. There is a difference.

Furthermore, the 2.0 GPA is passing, so I suppose what they're saying is that, "She's fine. She's just not 'satisfied' with her lot." That if she chose to, Audrey could do better, but, hey, it's not as though she's FAILING or anything, and, even better, she's clearly enjoying herself, too. She doesn't have it bad at all.


So, if any of you guys have any good liberal email forwards, about conservatives starving puppies or something...but funny, send them my way. There's someone with whom I'd love to share them. In the meantime, I'll be out getting drunk...waiting for my handout.

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It's fun to stay at the Y-M-C-A!

It's fun to stay at the Y-M-C-A!

If the staff shows up, you can get to work on time...

I've been having a little problem lately with some folks at the YMCA. And now, well, now I'm...what's the word...actively...yeah, that's it...actively working to correct the problem.

Our local YMCA offers a childcare program where they basically have staff on site at the school before school starts and after school to take care of small children who are not old enough to stay at home alone yet. I am not sure if this is a nationwide service that the YMCA offers, but clearly, with the advent of two-income families, it's a niche that they saw and have filled it. At least, locally.

My older daughters were in this program when they were younger and it worked very well for our family then. The beginning of this school year (last fall) was the first time my youngest girl has been involved.

Overall, it's worked pretty well.

However...lately, we've been having a problem.

The program starts at 7AM and ends at 6PM each day that school is in session. There are special options when school is not in session, but I fill those gaps with teenagers that are ready made at my place. The kids get breakfast at the school and an afternoon snack after classes are out. Homework assistance is offered (but we don't take advantage of that option, as I like to keep tabs on that myself), and otherwise, there are arts and crafts, games, sports, and just general playtime. So, the kids usually enjoy it, as well.

I seem to be having an issue with the staff at our school, though. Early in the year there was no problem. But with the onset of winter, the morning staff seemed to find it more and more difficult to get to the site on time. In fact, we had a two week stretch in January where they were late 7 out of 10 school days. Unfortunately, this is a 'thing' for me.

My job starts at 7:30AM. And I work downtown. It's at least a 20 minute commute from the school and that is with traffic on my side. Add to that that I have one of my teens that I also drop off in the morning and that dips a little more into that (maximum) ten minute window.

My bosses generally try to be flexible with me if I'm a little late. I can make it up at lunchtime or by staying a little late, but if I say past 5:30 in the evenings, then I can't get back to get my daughter by the time the YMCA program closes. (Not to mention the fact that by 5:30, I'm definitely ready to get outta work!) It's tricky, tricky business, I tell you.

Now I didn't say anything to the staff in January for 6 out of those 7 days. Oh, I grumbled to myself and my teenager heard about how frustrated I was because I was "going to late to work AGAIN!!!" But, well, I like the girl who runs the program at my youngest daughter's school. And I've gotten along well with her from the beginning of the school year. So, you know, I was trying to cut her a little slack.

On day seven of that stretch, I asked her if something had changed, as I hadn't been able to drop my daughter off at 7AM for several days at that point. She said she had had to run by the YMCA's office and did not offer so much as an apology for the situation over the previous many days. She also indicated that it wouldn't happen again.

A few weeks went by and I really thought the problem, whatever it had been, had been corrected. Sometimes, I really delude myself trying to give people the benefit of the doubt. I just so badly want to believe that people are better than they are. Anyway, as you can imagine, it happened again.

This time, she was substantially late. It happened to coincide with a day that I had been quite ill and I'd tried to drop [Kid 3] off, but had to bring her back home and wait it out a bit. On that morning, I called the YMCA's director and left a message. I was told, by the young lady answering the phones, that they were aware of the situation and that the director herself was en route to the school.

As I understand it, YMCA staff did not arrive until 7:35 that morning. I took my daughter back and dropped her off at 8:20. The story, that day, was that the regular on-site manager had become very ill and was rushed to the hospital.

She was back at work the next morning. But I'm sure that's coincidental.

The next week it happened again. Not 35 minutes late, but 10-15. I didn't call the director then, but I have every time since then. That has been four more calls.

The last two times (one of which was today...hence the rant), the on-site manager has contacted the school cafeteria staff to cover her until she can get there.

Monday, the story was that her car wouldn't start. The director advised that she'd gotten a call from the girl at 7AM. See, that doesn't work for me. Did the girl not realize before 7AM that she wasn't going to be at school on time? She could have contacted the director at 6:45, when she'd (presumably) discovered the problem as she was making an attempt to get to work on time. The director could have gotten someone there on time. Uh uh. In fact, the director advised me that the on-site manager had told her, at 7AM, that she had the site covered. She had no idea that it was not with a YMCA employee.

When I showed up, a couple minutes after seven, we knocked on the door to no avail. Some five minutes later, the lunchroom staff came to see if anyone was waiting outside. My bet is that that is when they received the call. However, even the director acknowledged that the lunchroom staff (who are employed by the school) were NOT supposed to be put in this position.

I know the YMCA director realizes how fed up I am with this crap. I'm paying $65 each week to have someone watch my daughter from 7AM until school starts at 9AM, and then again from 4PM until I get there between 5:30 and 6PM.

But I'm getting inordinately upset about this. I should NOT have to keep dealing with this. It has been going on for two months now. I've made the director aware of the problem (as have other parents, I know) and yet they don't seem motivated to correct the situation.

Today, I have contacted the school. When their staff assumes the responsibility for watching the children in the morning, they are not only prevented from doing the job the school system pays them to do, they also assume the liability (for the school system) for any injuries or problems that occur when those children are there. Also, does the lunchroom staff have to be trained in CPR? Because I know the YMCA staff does. And sure, you may think I'm just exaggerating the significance, but I'll note that I have a child who was injured at an after school YMCA site and that she has the scar to prove it. Things happen. And I've seen it firsthand.

I am not, though it may appear that way, on a mission to get this young lady fired from her job. I need the YMCA to provide the service I'm paying them to provide. Plain and simple. I need this for my child, but I also need this so that I do not continue to be late to my job, thereby jeopardizing my own future employment.

Now, if they can somehow convince this girl to show up on time, I'm happy to work with her. But if they can't, they need to find someone who can get to work on time. And they need to find that someone, NOW.


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