Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Go Get 'Em!

I first thought the title of this article was "Two in Dallas Not Accused of Katrina Fraud". There are a lot of people, me included, who thought that there were tons of people committing fraud to get the free dough from FEMA. Mass operations always make for an easy take.

The article seems to say these are dirty Texans who impersonated Louisiana refugees in an attempt to get money. I had heard a rumor that fake Louisiana IDs were the hottest thing selling on the black market because anybody with one could get a free hotel room. I'm glad that they actually arrested somebody for something.


Two in Dallas Accused of Katrina Fraud

Two Dallas residents have been accused of separate schemes to impersonate hurricane evacuees and bilk the Federal Emergency Management Agency out of thousands of dollars, authorities said.

Lakietha Hall, 35, was arrested Wednesday and charged with stealing more than $65,000 in FEMA money, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's office. Authorities seized more than $10,000 in cash during a search of Hall's apartment, the release said.

And just in case some people were worried, no, Texas does not give the death penalty for theft.

Saddam: "I was tortured"

From FoxNews:
BAGHDAD, Iraq — Saddam Hussein launched into an extended outburst at his trial Wednesday, alleging he had been beaten and tortured by his American captors while in detention...

Last time I checked, he had ears, his tongue, and all his fingers. Under the Saddam regime, any torturer that failed in such a manner would probably have been fired.
After sitting quietly through several hours of testimony, Saddam said he'd been beaten "everywhere on my body. The marks are still there."

Dude, you're old now! Those aren't torture marks, they're age marks!
About 10 minutes later, Saddam swung his chair to the left, closed his eyes and repeatedly bowed his head in what appeared to be about a minute-long prayer, the first time he has done that in court.

Now would that be toward Mecca or towards the jury box?

Word Up!

A funny little thing here for all my friends. Merriam-Webster Online has announced their #1 Word of the Year! The first time I saw the list was last year and I was struck by how much it reflected our lives in the past year. Take a look at this year's word list and I bet you'll think of a news event that corresponds each word. I'm sure I'd get an I-told-you-so glare from my previous English teachers if they had read my thoughts on these words. Ahh, the beauty to be found in the the language of our lives!

From Merriam Webster:


What, did you really think I was going to tell you number one? You'll just have to click on the link and go look it up yourself!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

One in 3.1 billion

One of the funniest things about genetics for the longest time was the inability of scientist to find the "race" gene. Race has always been considered important in the medical field due to different ethnic groups having higher tendencies toward certain diseases and unlikely reactions to medicines. Somebody has announced that they've finally located a part of the human genone that controls the color of our skin.

From the Washington Post:

Scientists said yesterday that they have discovered a tiny genetic mutation that largely explains the first appearance of white skin in humans tens of thousands of years ago, a finding that helps solve one of biology's most enduring mysteries and illuminates one of humanity's greatest sources of strife.

The work suggests that the skin-whitening mutation occurred by chance in a single individual after the first human exodus from Africa, when all people were brown-skinned. That person's offspring apparently thrived as humans moved northward into what is now Europe, helping to give rise to the lightest of the world's races.

It's just one miniscule letter. The letter A to be exact. When you consider the large amount of war and strife created by this simple, one-code gene, it really starts to make you wonder.
Leaders of the study, at Penn State University, warned against interpreting the finding as a discovery of "the race gene." Race is a vaguely defined biological, social and political concept, they noted, and skin color is only part of what race is -- and is not.

In fact, several scientists said, the new work shows just how small a biological difference is reflected by skin color. The newly found mutation involves a change of just one letter of DNA code out of the 3.1 billion letters in the human genome -- the complete instructions for making a human being.

It should be noted that this is only a skin color gene and not truly a "race" gene. There exist so many other factors that make up "race" and "culture" and that is not limited to simply one tiny gene. The skin-color gene does not influence other genes like intelligence, athletic ability, dexterity, and other such human traits. Knowing where the existance of the skin color gene isn't going to revolutionize any aspect of our lives. It's merely a human curiosity based upon our historical obcession with skin color.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Privacy vs. Law

The word FINALLY comes to mind.

From the Houston Chronicle:

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today announced the arrest of 13 Louisiana fugitives who went into hiding during the evacuation from Hurricane Katrina.

All 11 men and two women were wanted in connection with some type of violent crime, including three on charges of homicide. Nine were arrested in Houston, two in Fort Worth, one in Austin and one in Conroe.

The fugitives were captured in late November and December, using information provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Governor's Office of Homeland Security. Law enforcement officers in Harris, Tarrant and Montgomery counties assisted in the arrests.

"Texans rightly opened our arms and hearts our Louisiana neighbors as they fled the devastation of Hurricane Katrina,'' Abbott said today in a prepared statement. "But even as we provided a refuge for evacuees in need, we will not allow fugitives from the law to exploit the situation by hiding in our state.''

The fugitives who were arrested applied for FEMA aid, Abbott. He said it was difficult to get a list of people who applied for financial assistance.

"We worked and worked and worked with FEMA for weeks on end and FEMA failed and refused to give us the information we needed," he said. "They put up roadblocks."

Abbott would not say if he thought Katrina evacuees were contributing to an increased crime rate in Houston, but acknowledged that some evacuees have
committed crimes in the state of Texas, including one man who was arrested in
the Dallas area for molesting a child.

Read 'em finally

Certain friends and relatives will be glad to know that I finally read Harry Potter. Yup, I took the whole series down in about a week and a half. One of my friends had asked why a book worm like me had managed to pass it up. Well, simply, there's just a lot of stuff out there to read! Here's some other stuff I've read in the past month:

Hard Sell
The First Emancipator (okay, just the introduction cause it really summed it up)
Nodame Cantabile
Fushigi Yugi
6 Harry Potter books
Once in a Blue Moon
Ride the River (by Louis L'amour)
various dental magazines in the bathroom
Kare Kano
Death Note
The Lazarus Trap

Friday, December 16, 2005

A Parent's Influence

More from my bathroom reading...

From the American Dental Hygiensts' Association's ACCESS magazine (sorry, there's no link.)

Children's Ideas about Alcohol and Cigarettes Influenced by Parents

A recent study led by Madeline A. Dalton, PhD, of Dartmouth College in
Hanover, New Hampshire, showed that children ages two to six years old were
significantly more likely to "purchase" cigarettes and alcohol while pretending
to shop if they had observed their parens smoking and drinking . They were
four times as likely to choose cigarettes if their parents smokes, and threee
times as likely to select alcohol if their parents drank at least once a

The study was designed as a role-playing exercise in which children ages
three to six years old were given two dolls and asked to pretend to be one,
while the researcher pretended to be the other. The researcher acted as a
friend who had been invited to dinner by the child, creating a need for the
child to visit a grocery store and select items to purchase for the even.
The exercise was simplified for the two-year old children, who were instructed
to select a doll and take it shopping. The child's purchase of alcohol and
cigarettes at the store, and the use of these products subsequently, were
recorded by the researcher.


The findings support that children are heavily influenced by their parents'
actions when determining how alcohol and cigarettes are used during social

This study is unique because of the preschool age children that it involved and tested. Parental influence is so strong, even at this young age. The children haven't even started to make an "informed decision"- it was already taught to them by their parents.

Longevity Quiz Show

I would so love to see this come to America but I don't think it will happen. My husband loves to make fun of me already so I'm sure I would wind up on a show like this. ;)

From Nodame Cantabile v.3:
The Longevity Quiz show is a reference to a quiz show on Japanese TV where
the contestants are senior citizens who have, to put it nicely, lost some of
their noodles. They are asked simple questions, but because they have such
profound memory loss, the answers can be hilarious

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Obsession with chronicles of Narnia

The Lutheran Witness had a really great article addressing the some people's obsession with trying to label The Chronicles of Narnia as a the next big Christian film.

The Chronicles are not Scriptures

Surprisingly, one of the reasons that some readers are skeptical of the Narnia books is that they have numerous allusions to Scripture. Seeing these reflections, many readers identify these books as allegories. But Lewis did not. They are not substitutes for another story, nor does everything in the books symbolize something else. As a professor of English language and literature, Lewis was well versed in allegory and deliberately wrote these stories with more subtlety.

Certainly, there are biblical parallels, but the stories are not simply a recast Gospel. Lewis’s stepson, Douglas Gresham, who is also a coproducer of the movie, recognizes
parallels, saying that a viewer who looks for Christian symbolism will find it, but notes that the story is also about relationships, chivalry, honor, commitment, duty, honesty, and family values.

These assessments do not diminish the parallels that are present in the story, but they provide an important caution. While the release of this movie—and the resurgence of interest in the books—provides a good opportunity for Christian witness, we should not be too aggressive. Christians who overzealously demand parallels between Aslan and Christ may cause some to avoid the movie. Allowing the plot to stand for itself opens it to a wider audience.

Is Aslan Christ?

If ever there was a literary parallel to Jesus, it is here. Aslan vividly demonstrates a sacrificial death, and a resurrection. He is like Jesus, exemplifying many of the things that Jesus did and taught. But Aslan is not equal to Jesus. He is a fictional character with significant parallels to the historic, biblical Jesus Christ.

Saturday, December 10, 2005


I have some rather unique bathroom reading material now.

From Dimensions of Dental Hygiene magazine:

Stormy, a 5-year-old groundhog living at the Brookfield Zoo in Brookfield, Ill,
was fitted with braces to correct his teeth. Groundhogs need their two bottom
and top incisors to eat. These teeth continue to grow throughout their lives,
naturally staying worn down through chewing and gnawing. Stormy’s bottom
incisors came in crooked and, as a result, did not wear down—making chewing his
food impossible unless his incisors were trimmed by the zoo’s veterinarian, Tom
Meehan, DVM. With the consult of a Milwaukee dentist who specializes in animal
dentistry, John Sheels, DDS, Meehan wired the groundhog’s bottom incisors
together in August. Thus far, the braces have been a success and Stormy’s teeth
are being brought into occlusion.

How do you spell ice cicles?

There aren't many freezes in Texas but this one was fun. There was tons of ice but not many power outages in the area. School wasn't cancelled for us and the ice lastest two days. The vehicles were covered with ice and we couldn't open our doors. Finally, Mark managed to get the trunk of the van open and crawled in from there. The seat on the motorcycle cracked when Mark banged on it and the electronic controls on one of the back windows on the van don't work anymore. The kids practiced their ninja kicks on the ice covered bushes and walked to school, even in the freezing cold. After all, that's why I keep those things called coats, gloves, scarves, and sweaters in the closet.

Whitney kept trying to walk home without her coat on. Twice, she escaped from under her teacher's watchful eye in just her sweater. For the many kids that just run outside and hop in a warm car, that would have been fine. One of the days I picked them up because of the rain but the second day she was completely freezing and her hands had turned an extreme shade of red- and her coat was inches away in her backpack. Now, I can't help but doubt the sanity of a child who was so dang cold but didn't get her coat out and put it on.... sigh. I emailed her teacher and yelled at her older sister and now Whitney will always have her coat on!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

It's only 28 degrees!

Yesterday morning, even though it was below freezing, I made my kids walk to school. Now Sonia had gotten a cute fleece pink shawl as a gift yesterday and was determined to wear it to school. She had put on three long-sleeve shirts, the fleece, danced around outside, and proclaimed herself to be completely okay. Ha ha. Well, I sure wasn't going to stand for that and yes, there were tears. I told her that those tears were going to freeze on her face if they didn't get dried up. Finally, she put on her that brand new pink and fluffy coat we bought her just for this reason.

Jarod threw a fit because I made him wear a hat and the green scarf wasn't the green scarf he wanted. It was the other green green scarf to match the green hat that he wanted. He wasn't happy with the green hat to begin with but the other green green scarf matched the green hat better than this green scarf. It was very strange of him.

And Whitney did her usual "I don't know where it is" routine again.

And so I sent them out of the door, all of them unhappy for some reason or another.

But then I suddenly felt guilty, like I was a horrible parent because my kids were walking to school in the cold weather. What would the other parents think of me? Last year I tried to get the kids to walk to school in the cold weather. The little smarties immeadiately walked next door and asked the neighbor for a ride! My guilt and worry grew so, I threw on clothes, thermals, and my warmest coat and ran down the street to join the kids. I went around the bend and could see them about six houses down. The kids had already met up with other kids walking to school too. Mine had stripped all the hats and scarfs and shoved them into backpacks. Sonia looked like she had unzipped her coat.

I laughed and watched the kids from a distance for a short while before turning back to the house. I heated up some water and enjoyed some hot chocolate by myself.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Christmas Parade

This Sunday we had our local city Christmas Parade with a great turnout. My husband and his dental hygiene class had been working on their float for the past couple of weekends and our Scout pack built their float on Saturday. Kia let us build the Scout float in their garages and the kids came home completely filthy and happy. Whitney had paint all over her pants and Sonia probably ruined her nicest with grease. Jarod got some paint on his new jeans but boys look all the more tougher with some work stains on their pants.

I've decided that Local Parades are a joy. Our twin cities are just big enough to make for an interesting parade but still have that small-town feel. I was amazed by how many people I knew on the floats and the many faces I knew in the crowd. The Texas A&M University stuff started the parade off this year with style and class. The Ross Volunteers, the Corp unit that performs at all the formal occasions, led of the parade with some snazzy marching and drilling. Then the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band a.k.a, the Pulse of Aggieland, and the Fish Drill Team followed up. Wow!

The kids' school float took the Grand Prize this year with their "Parade on Parade" idea. Each child was dressed as a float, car, or horse group as part of the typical groups that join in the parade. It was a treat and deserved the prize. The Student Dental Hygiene float took First Prize in the Collgiate entry but our Scout float didn't do anything. We had a ton of fun though and passed out a lot of candy. The dental float passed out 1000 toothbrushes, plus samples of toothepaste and mouthwash donated to the groups. They ran out of stuff even before the halfway point! Our scout float was towards the end of the parade floats (we waited 2 hrs just to get started) and we had heard that the other half wasn't getting any candy or goodies. We saved most of our candy until the end and filled the hands of the all the kids (or as many as we could at a runner's pace) with goodies and fun.

Later that evening, the local PBS station put the full 3 hr parade on television! I got to see the other floats and the dental float with my girls on it. :) Sonia and Whitney were so excited! They had made themselves "tooth crowns" to wear on the float. Sonia doesn't get the pun even though it was her idea. The scout float was on TV too but I fell fast asleep on the couch and didn't get to see myself on air. The dvds of the program are on tv so I hope that the library will get it soon.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Feliz Navidad

You always hear in the news that "Merry Christmas" has been banned but it Feliz Navidad is a gonner too. At my friend's work, they hung a big banner saying Feliz Navidad for the customers. The first week of the holiday season hasn't even passed but the store has already received three complaints about the sign and been forced to take it down. I asked my friend if it was the holiday theme or the fact that it was Spanish but she said it was most definitely the holiday theme. The manager also announced to the employees that there will be no office decorating this year and the store might have to take down the Christmas tree that is on display for the customers.

To all my friends, Feliz Navidad. And to all those who complained, FELIZ NAVIDAD, cause you sure need it more.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Back to the Drawing Chalk Board

A court in Texas ruled today that the current funding cap for school district taxes is unconstitutional. Personally, I just don't get it. I re-read the article twice and couldn't find anything I thought unconstitutional at all. I'll have to ask around for some more clarity from my lawyer friends tomorrow.

From the Houston Chronicle:

The high court held 7-1 that the $1.50 per $100 valuation cap on local school maintenance taxes amounts to an unconstitutional statewide property tax because many school districts are at or near the limit.

In the majority opinion, Justice Nathan Hecht noted that the Supreme Court, in a previous school finance case, ruled that an "ad valorem (property) tax is a state tax ...when the state so completely controls the levy, assessment and disbursement of revenue, either directly or indirectly, that the authority employed (by local districts) is without meaningful discretion."

If I take the article at face value, I get a muddled train of thought:

1. The legislature sets a tax cap that all school districts must obey.

2. The school districts can't raise taxes as high as they want. They start to reach their peak and are forced to make budget cuts.

3. The school districts complain that the tax cap is excessive control of their tax domain and a judge agrees with them. Pretty much the districts went to court and complained about every single problem in their districts and blamed the lack of solution on their inability to spend more money. (See quote above.) The judge somehow declares that it is now really a state tax, that is, a tax in the power of the state and not in the power of the school districts.

4. Once that train of thought is begun, the judges later declare this kind of tax unconstitutional.

5. Therefore, we're back at square one again.

I promise to find out more info about this strange logic tomorrow.

Self-defense again

I read an article today about a case of self-defense in Houston and thought I'd email it over to Clayton Clamer's blog but he already had it linked. In fact, he had FOUR articles already posted just from today's newspapers. If you view his blog, you'll see that there is rarely a day that goes by when a case of self-defense is not reported in the papers.

No hard-core statistics exists to show how many people use their guns in self-defense. Only a few of the self-defense cases where the intruder dies are actually reported in the newspaper. There are rarely newpaper articles concerning the use of force to defend against animals or the use of force to defend yourself when the intruder does not die. It is this glaring lack of statistics that has caused many people to start tracking self-defense on a personal scale. Without hard stats to back of their case, gun owners cannot fight the courts and stigma of gun ownership that currently exists in pockets in our country.

One day I hope to see an article that says, "Honest citizens used a weapon X times this year to defend themselves and their family. Because of their actions, X people are still alive today."

Monday, November 21, 2005

Texas Aggie Bonfire Standing Tall

Okay fans, there's been a lot of Bonfire news building in the past couple days.

First, the location that Bonfire has been held at the past couple years, Hot Rod Hill, is scheduled to close. The courts are shutting them down due to noise voilations. Hot Rod Hill is just outside town and was a great location for the burn. Bonfire may be searching for a new home next year. I can recommend a good field on campus.

Bonfire ran into a funny technical problem this year. The burn ban in the county is in effect due to drought-like conditions in the area. A local lawyer, Kyle A. Davis, helped get Bonfire listed as a "ceremonial burn" and therefore exempt from the burn ban. This ruling came down less than 100 hours before Bonfire was ready to burn. I think Kyle A. Davis works in the office I work in.

The Student Government was all ready to vote on a bill recognizing the off-campus Bonfire as an official student organization but the bill failed to be voted on. The Battalion completely failed to mention some important information in its article the day of the vote. The Student Body President was out of town and therefore the recognition bill could only be voted on as an emergency bill. There were not enough votes to recommend an emergency vote override.

But not that it matters much at this point and time. All the work had already been done on this year's Bonfire by the time the bill would have been passed. Even without the support of the student government and university officials, the norms of Bonfire have slowly been returning. Groups are organized by their dorm names, Corp members are participating against regulations, and some football players will be showing up anyway. There are reports that some professors are starting to help with questions even though that too is against regulations. To be a representative of the university without permission of the unversity, is illegal. By passing this bill and recognizing the off-campus Bonfire, it will eventually open up Bonfire to all campus organizations and leadership.

Yesterday, John Lopez had a really great article on Bonfire in the Houston Chronicle:

That nearly 12,000 fans took buses or car pools to the rural
site, parking in grass and dirt fields, walking up to a mile to attend the
event, indicates that more Aggies view the off-campus event like the
originators. That is, it has become as much a tribute to those who died six
years ago as the memorial on campus.

Yet the university does not recognize anything about the off-campus bonfire. Neither has any administrator condemned the idea.

It's as if the Aggie administration wants to ignore it until it goes away, even though they know it never will. Participation, support and certainly the stack grows every year.

This year's bonfire was the most ambitious structure yet and was something of an engineering marvel, designed by former students who created various templates and computer images from which the student crew worked.

I think he might have pre-written his article and didn't really see Bonfire burn all night. Or maybe he just had to get the article to press and couldn't wait until Bonfire fell. It may be a good thing he didn't wait until Bonfire fell since BONFIRE IS STILL STANDING RIGHT NOW!

From The Batt:

The off-campus bonfire that was lit Saturday is still standing, which could mean Texas A&M will beat the University of Texas (UT) at football on Friday, or that structural changes are needed in the stack itself.

Jack Shallock, a junior forestry science major and grey pot Aggie Student Bonfire leader, said there is a legend saying that if the bonfire stays standing after midnight, then A&M will beat UT.
Picture from The Eagle:

The Aggie Student Bonfire remained standing Sunday after the 45-foot log stack
lit Saturday night at Hot Rod Hill failed to burn completely.

Chance Robinson, a junior at Texas A&M University and a member of Aggie Student
Bonfire, said organizers plan to meet with Brazos County officials to discuss burning the stack at a later date.

Organizers said they plan to meet with Brazos County officials Monday to discuss when - or if - the structure will burn. Most of it remained intact hours after repeated attempts to light it.

Chance Robinson, a Texas A&M University junior and a member of Aggie Student Bonfire, said safety issues are a concern because some of the core logs did burn. It initially caught fire but died out.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Not Guilty

And I thought she was so PROUD of herself for getting arrested. I saw the pictures of her being carried away by policemen and she had a smirky I'm-gonna-do-this-anyway look on her face.

From the Houston Chronicle:
War protester Cindy Sheehan and several others pleaded not guilty today to charges of demonstrating without a permit outside the White House.

The protesters, who face fines and not jail time, were being tried this afternoon by U.S. Magistrate Alan Kay after several hours of talks with court officials about how quickly their trial could be wrapped up.

Before the trial began, Sheehan announced plans to revive her protest near President Bush's Texas ranch during Thanksgiving week, despite new county ordinances banning roadside camping

Student Bonfire May Get Recognition

"Aggies didn't build Bonfire, Bonfire built Aggies" ~famous quote from somebody

This is great news for Aggies who have been fighting hard to keep the tradition of bonfire alive. Off-campus bonfire has been held for the past couple of years and been supported by many alumni, students, and people from the Aggieland community. President Gates, in his first public speech, endorsed the idea of bringing back Bonfire to campus but promptly dropped the idea on Day 2.

Exerpt from The Battalion:

Wednesday night, the Texas A&M Student Senate will vote on a bill to endorse Off-Campus Bonfire. If passed, A&M's Student Government Association (SGA) will recognize Off-Campus Bonfire as an official student organization.

Student Senate Speaker Will Hailey said Off-Campus Bonfire deserves SGA's full support whether or not all students support the rganization.

"Bonfire deserves special support because the guys and girls of Aggie Bonfire are keeping alive the Aggie tradition that connects all of A&M - past, present and future," Hailey said.

The bill has 32 co-authors, while the average bill in student senate has two or three. The larger number of co-authors is an effort to have the bill accepted before the legislation reaches the senate floor, Hailey said.

To pass, half the senators present at the meeting must approve the bill. [Texas] A&M has 63 student senators and the bill has nearly 32 co-authors, meaning the bill has enough support to pass.

Patrick Dugan, a leader in the fight to restore Bonfire, encouraged students to email administrators this week in a show of solidarity.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Four and more to go

Last week my youngest child had her FOURTH near death miss. Though it can be a little heart wrenching for me, they do make great family reunion tales.

This most recent attempt on her life happened in the library parking lot. I parked the van next to an empty spot and the girls started to get out of the van. A small pick-up truck pulled past and suddenly started backing up into the space beside me. Really, the whole incident only lasted approximately 4 seconds. Sonia, my oldest, and I noticed the truck backing up right away. I took two steps forward and started wildly waving my arms, thinking he would surely notice this large jumping adult. Sonia yelped as she jumped out of the way, behind the van, into safety. But Whitney hadn't moved yet but turned towards her sister as she moved away.

But the dang truck didn't stop. He wasn't seeing me waving! This strange feeling of helplessness suddenly went through my whole self. My options were very limited as the truck was almost there and 3 seconds had gone by. I could keep waving and hope that it would be effective. I could make some wild effort to jump, grab Whitney, and get out of the way but I dismissed that as useless. I could get to her but I wouldn't be able to get out of the way with her, making it so both of us were in the way of the wheels. Calling her name would make her turn towards me, exactly what I didn't want. I think I just yelled "MOVE" at her but I didn't think it would be helpful. I was panicing.

And the truck stopped.

Four feet away from Whitney.

The driver of the truck pulled forward and parked in a spot on the other row. He was extremely nonchalant about the whole issue, never understanding how stressed I was. Apparently he never saw me. Nope, not at all. He changed his mind when he saw Sonia's bobbing head as she leapt out of the way. She's just barely tall enough that her head stood above the top of his tailgate. This is the first year she's not the shortest in her class.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Hey Grandma! (Hint Hint)

Did y'all know my Grandma regularly reads my blog. It really makes me feel great that she enjoys my writing.

From CNN:
Forget shuffleboard, needlepoint, and bingo.

Web logs, more often the domain of alienated adolescents and middle-aged pundits,
are gaining a foothold as a new leisure-time option for senior citizens.

There's Dad's Tomato Garden Journal, Dogwalk Musings, and, of course, the Oldest Living Blogger.

"It's too easy to sit in your own cave and let the world go by, eh?" said Ray Sutton, the 73-year-old Oldest Living Blogger and a retired electrician who lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. "It keeps the old head working a little bit so you're not just sitting there gawking at TV."

Web logs, or blogs, are online journals where people write about anything and everything that interests them. Blogs tend to be topical, and typically offer links to other Web sites, photos and opportunities for readers to comment.

Bloggers say their hobby keeps them up on current events, lets them befriend strangers around the globe and gives them a voice in a society often deaf to the wisdom of the elderly.

Same Story, Second Round

The Pakistan earthquake last month was devestating and killed 80,000 people. The records are showing that half of those were children. Statistics show that 10,000 schools collapsed during the shaking, taking down with them the promise of the next generation. If you think 10,000 collapsed schools is a ridiculously high number, then I agree with you.

From the Christian Science Moniter:

Some 8,000 schools collapsed in the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP), and 2,000 in Pakistan's less-populous Kashmir region. All the schools collapsed in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, reports the Associated Press.

It is widely recognized that, because of crumbling schools like this, children suffered the greatest blow from the October quake. The United Nations Children's Fund estimates that children account for about half the 80,000 killed in the quake. Uncertainty clouds the future of many of those who survived.


The problem with government schools is that there is so much corruption with construction that many materials are not used," says Sameen Mehmood Jan, an opposition member of the NWFP provincial assembly.

Experts estimate that between 30 and 60 percent of funds for government buildings, including schools, are siphoned off by corrupt officials. Contractors squeezed by such kickbacks have less to spend on materials, experts explain, resulting in poor quality buildings.

"This was a common practice throughout Pakistan, but particularly in NWFP. We've been tolerating this kind of corruption in Pakistan for years," says Ms. Gohar.

Observers say corruption in Pakistan has picked up in the past few decades, particularly since the 1970s, when banks and industries were nationalized, and when international aid pouring into the country, following another large-scale earthquake, was allegedly pocketed by corrupt officials.

Of course, there's no plans right now to prevent this second set of earthquake funds from being eaten up by corruption.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Cure for Bird Flu

And I don't even like cabbage!

From the Honolulu Star Bulletin:

...and on kim chee?
Cabbage: Recent research has caused a fervor, as people start to stock up

Midwesterners are stocking up on kim chee and sauerkraut, but not for parties, hot dogs or Reuben sandwiches.

They're storing it in case there's a bird flu pandemic.

The sour-cabbage craze was triggered by news reports that SeoulNational University scientists in Korea used "kim chee sauerkraut" successfully to treat chickens infected with avian flu. The researchers fed a kim chee extract containing a high level of lactic acid bacteria to 13 infected birds and 11 were still alive the next week, Chris Smith, marketing vice president for Frank's Sauerkraut, said in a telephone interview. The Franks brand is produced by the Fremont Co. in Fremont, Ohio.

Smith said the Seoul report was picked up by BBC, then CBS affiliate WCCO in Minneapolis. The week after the story hit Minneapolis, overall sales of Frank's Sauerkraut climbed an average of 77 percent over the same week last year at 54 Midwest retail stores surveyed, he said.

Although the company had no promotions or commercials, nine stores reported a sales increase of more than 150 percent and one reported an 850 percent jump, he said.

"People are stocking up on sauerkraut like bottled water before a hurricane hits," Smith said.

Texas Passes Constitutional Admendment

Did you really expect anything less? I was kinda hoping we would get in the 80th percentile range but oh well.

From the Houston Chronicle:

Texas became the 19th state to approve a constitutional ban of gay marriage as voters decided nine proposed amendments today.

Like every other state except Massachusetts, Texas didn't permit same-sex marriages, but the constitutional amendment was touted as an extra guard against future court rulings.

With more than 700,000 votes counted, 77 percent favored the ban and 23 percent opposed it.

Hubby and I went to the voting area and I had to help two eldery people work the electronic machines. You have to put a code into the machine before you start your voting and I showed them how to work it as they entered their codes. It would be helpful it they had a practice booth set up. I wonder if people nowadays feel the same about the electronic voting machines as they did when the hole punch machines were introduced? Were there huge debates about the effectiveness or ease of fraud? Did the men hold up their voting card into the light and distrustingly count the votes before slipping it into the box?

We saw a couple with triplet infants walking to the voting area. Hubby helped a man find an easier entrance to the school for his handicapped mother who wanted to vote. It was also really neat to see so many young couples without kids driving up to the voting area. Voting seems to bring out the "community spirit" in so many people.

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Rest of the Story

A tragedy happened yesterday in College Station. A couple of middle school students, two boys and a girl, tried to cross the freeway from the carnival to the movie theater. The girl was hit and killed after she hesitated while the boys made it safely across. There is an underpass on the freeway between the carnival and theater, making the incident even sadder. I'm working at one of the middle schools in town today and some of the students here knew her.

Stephen F. Austin Middle School student Raven Marae Bordieri - known to her family as Rae - was described Sunday as an outgoing 13-year-old who loved to dance, listen to music and hang out with friends.

Raven died Saturday night after she was hit by several cars while trying to run across Earl Rudder Freeway South near the Cinemark movie theater. At least two other teenagers were crossing the highway with Raven but were not injured, police said.

Passers-by pulled over to help, but some of the vehicles involved in the 9:45 p.m. accident did not stop, officials said. Officers shut down the northbound lanes of the highway at Harvey Road and worked into the night Saturday clearing the scene.

Raven lived with her Grandpa instead of her parents. Sadly, her Grandpa suffered two strokes when he was told the news and is now in the hospital. Her older sister is not handling the news very well and is throwing things and tearing up the house. Her mother is on crack and doesn't even know she's dead yet.

Correction: After speaking with a relative and close friend of mine, I've learned that the Grandpa's medical history is past medical history, not something that happened this past weekend. I spoke to one of Raven's friends who told me about this weekend and she mentioned the strokes. It was my error to not understand she meant those in the past. However, I did not confirm with my friend what the details of his medical history are.

Update: I'm very sorry that I've hurt so many people's feeling and caused a lot of anger. The things I said were too emotional for the moment for you. However, I don't believe that I ever personally insulted Raven. My point in writing the above paragraph was to contrast the love and anguish felt by her family but strangly not felt by her mother, the one you'd expect to be in the most pain.

The points I listed about Raven's family were also because I found them to parallel my life so well. My sister died when she was 19, five years ago now. My parents let her out of the house and tried to safeguard her life but to no avail. You could say that my sister OD'd on her drug of choice: M&Ms. Her real mom (she was my step-sister but in formalities only) was in jail at the time. She has so many convictions (drugs, prostitution, arson) that they didn't even let her out escorted to go to the funeral. Her Granny (maternal) was in the hospital at the time. Nobody would tell her that my sister died. She would constantly ask, "Why isn't she coming to see me?" and "When is she going to be back?" It was a couple of months before somebody finally told her and she passed away two weeks later. I hope you can see how my sister's mom and my sister's grandma paralled Raven's mom and Raven's grandpa. I'll let you figure out on your own why I listed the third family member.

I hope each one of you can find the comfort that I did when my sister passed away. It was simply because I knew where she was; I know that I will see her again. Thank you Jesus!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Airbags for Motorcycles

At first glance, I found this quite hilarious but Honda was very serious when they considered and tested an airbag on a motorcycle. They found that half of motorcycle accidents happen when the biker crashes headfirst into another vehicle. By putting an airbag in the way, the rider's velocity slows down and there's less impact into the other vehicle. Riders should continue to wear gear.

Airbags come to motorcycles with the 2006 Gold Wing. The airbag just slows the rider, it does not prevent his ejection.

After years of experimentation and research, Honda has released the first airbag installed on a production motorcycle. The airbag system will be available on the premium version of 2006 GL1800 Gold Wing, which goes on sale next spring.

If you don't have a Honda Gold Wing, you can still get the protection of an airbag with the Motorcycle Airbag Jacket!

Friday Math Jokes

Ahh, this little thing about blogging.... They should re-write the rules of blogging. The new first rule would be "Kick your husband off the computer."


Q: How does a mathematician induce good behavior in her children?
A: `I've told you n times, I've told you n+1 times...'

A math professor, a native Texan, was asked by one of his students: "What is mathematics good for?" He replied: "This question makes me sick! If you show someone the Grand Canyon for the first time, and he asks you `What's it good for?' What would you do? Well, you kick that guy off the cliff!"

Q: What do you get if you divide the cirucmference of a jack-o-lantern by its diameter? A: Pumpkin Pi!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Sick again


I'm still sick with this nasty bug and can't seem to kick it. Sorry but I'm heading to the couch for the rest of the day. Good thing I made it to the video store yesterday!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween!

There's nothing better than a ghost story on Halloween, unless it's a REAL ghost story that happened to a good friend of yours.

First Story

This is the true tale of what a 10 year old girl saw and her seventeen year old sister heard.

My mother's house was built in 1910 on the site where the previous house that was there had caught fire. The owner of that house was a city official. He was a very big man, both height and girth. He had a wife and a servant. The wife was beautiful and tall, kind of willowy with long thick wavy blonde hair that hung down past her shoulders. His servant was very tall with grey hair, slicked back and wore a three piece morning suit. His quarters were in the front bedroom and there was a separate door leading to the front porch.

Her Second Story

The town in which I grew up was a small town of about 17-18 thousand. My parents
lived in the old part of town where the houses were all at least 100 years old or older. This is the tale of a man that I see periodically when I go home. I don't always go the way around town to see this man, but when I do 3 out of 5 times I go this way, he is there

That not enough fun for you? Try taking a personality quiz! How about "Which Horror Movie are You?" (Another fun thing I'm borrowing from my friend at Dreamer's Reality.)

How about some corny Halloween jokes? You can tell these jokes to the kids knocking at your door.

Halloween groaners...
(and moaners and wailers... it is Halloween, after all)

Why do mummies have trouble keeping friends?
They're so wrapped up in themselves...

What kind of streets do zombies like the best?
Dead ends...

What does the papa ghost say to his family when driving?
Fasten your sheet belts...

What is a vampire's favorite mode of transportation?
A blood vessel...

What is a ghost's favorite mode of transportation?
A scareplane...

What type of dog do vampire's like the best?

What is a ghoul's favorite flavor?

What does a vampire never order at a restaurant?
A stake sandwich...

What is a skeleton's favorite musical instrument?
A trombone...

What do birds give out on Halloween night?

Why do vampires need mouthwash?
They have bat breath...

What's a vampire's favorite fast food?
A guy with very high blood pressure...

Why did the Vampire subscribe to the Wall Street Journal?
He heard it had great circulation...

And last but not least, this Halloween joke sent to me by my Grandma last year...

Tonight's weather in Bryan/College Station is THUNDERSTORMS AFTER SUNSET ONLY. Oh, that'll be thrilling. You think some thunderstorms are gonna keep me from taking them out? Tonight is the night that the kids work hard so that Mom and Dad can stay up late eating their candy!


This mock letter is from the Asia Times. The author of the article, runs a satirical column called "Ask Spengler". It's old but I don't remember seeing it before.

Dear Spengler,
I have done my best to emulate Yasser Arafat, and all I get for my troubles is a lousy cave in western Pakistan. As the chief executive officer of a global conspiracy to restore the Islamic caliphate, I have had to kill a few thousand people here and there, but Arafat has killed far more people than I have. He is treated like a head of state, while I am hunted like a criminal. Where did I go wrong?
Worried In Waziristan

Dear Worried,
Your error is obvious. Arafat only kills Jews.

His other works are just as hilarious.

Dear Spengler,
Recently I became the chief executive officer of the world's largest religious denomination. Some people want me to allow women to become priests, something we have not allowed in our 2,000-year history. Should I permit this?
Ruminating in Rome

Dear Ruminating,
A priest's most important function is to forgive sins. Women never forgive anything.

But fair warning! Spengler tends to insult everybody including Christians, Muslims, Americans, pedophiles, gays, and even Dixie South. In the next sentence he'll defend that which he just put down. His full-length articles are thought provoking, hilarious, and yet down-right serious at times. They are not for the faint of heart.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Ebay Mystery Auctions

I found two funny auctions online at Ebay. The first one is a lady who tells a horrible story about a deceitful husband and she's selling all his things. What she's done is make up mystery boxes full of stuff and is selling them without telling about the contents. She's sold 27 or so of these and so far her feedback is good.


She says she's getting rid of all the stuff he gave her and this is her revenge. But she also said that the house and all of the belongings were awarded to her in court. Therefore, why would she want to get rid of belongings that are rightfully her for cheap? She would only be hurting herself. Is she lying or not? I dunno.

And this second auctioneer needs some Dear Abby help quickly.


My 20 year old daughter is a very determined, motivated young lady. When I was divorced I tried to make sure her and her brother's college education was paid for by their wealthy father. She has completed part of her schooling and now her DEADBEAT DAD has decided to keep all his money for himself and not pay for her
college! My daughter has been accepted to the school of her dreams!! Since she was 10 years old she has wanted to go to this school. When she called her dad about paying for the tuition he informed her," I AM NOT PAYING FOR IT!!! GET A
LAWYER!!!". Her faced turned from absolute excitement to tears and disappointment. Now she feared her DREAMS of the career she has always wanted were OVER!! NOT SO!!! Since my children were little I have physically and emotionally raised both my children by myself since their DEADBEAT DAD elected not to use his visitation rights. I am a POWER SELLER here on EBAY since I cannot work outside of my home due to health issues. My daughter and son suffer from the same health issues that I do. With a 99.9% POSITIVE FEEDBACK of almost 1600 you know I mean business!! I have decided to put my INVENTORY of BRAND NEW GORGEOUS, POPULAR, and EXPENSIVE items all into one HUGE MYSTERY AUCTION!!! It is the only way I can get my daughter to her school since all I have is my inventory not any cash. SO IT ALL HAS TO GO!!! I figured the DEADBEAT DAD was legally bound to pay for her college as per our stipulation from our divorce. Now he has decided NOT TO PAY ANYWAY!!!Seems he has other plans for his money not his daughter's career.

The sad fact is that the man does not want anything to do with his ex-wife and their children. His children are now over 18 and he has fulfilled any financial role required by the state. The ex-wife can't sue for college support from this man because of that. Instead, she's trying to make her children into leechers. She makes it sound like just because he has money, he should be obligated to spend it all on what she wants. Sorry, but she lost that priviledge when she divorced him.

I'll watch the auctions and see how much they go for.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Bad Luck for me

Just last week I stepped out of the store and took a big, deep breath of fresh air. Its the end of October and my hay fever is coming to a close. I meant it when I said October allergies. But now I've been sidelined with a terrible cough and cold. You can't substitute at schools if you've got laryngitis and can't yell at the students.

I got it from Sonia. She still is coughing, even a week after getting the bug. We made her wash her hands a thousand times and even made her wear a medical face mask. I suddenly have those in stock in my house since hubby became a dental student. Getting sick is NOT something he wants to do since it cuts directly into his class time. But he was really nice and didn't kick me out of the bedroom. He just slept at the other end of the bed.

Oh, I wish it ended there. But my life has had quite a bit of bad luck these past couple of weeks.

My van was in the shop over a month ago to get a transmission rebuilt. This repair came right on the heals of a new gasket, new starter, and a new tention pulley. All this happened within 9000 miles. It took the shop 4 tries and 13 days to get my transmission working correctly. In the mean time, the gave us a rental car and said they would pay for it.

Well I got a bill from the rental place saying that the shop had not paid the bill yet and now I was on the hook for the $500. Oh I am not going to sit back and just pay it. There's hope at least in this case.

But my other vehicle is in the shop too. Hubby took the motorcycle to a shop 100 miles away because I hate our in-town dealership so much. We just wanted to get his normal valve maintence. Hubby keeps his motorcycle in top-notch condition. The shop says that his valves are fine but he's got no compression in two cylinders. His motorcycle with only 40,000 miles has pretty much imploded and needs a $3000 overhall. And oh, this is "normal wear and tear" so it's not covered under our extended warranty. According to the shop my husband failed to ride the bike hard enough and that caused the problem.

I am not a happy camper. The problems here a pretty much summed up. I've never filed in court before but suddenly I'm sitting on two very potential problems that might need to be settled in court.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Big L (for Loser)

The principal of one of the local middle schools, Sam Rayburn, has decided to cancel Halloween for the school. He announced today that there will be no hair color, no costumes, and absolutely no candy. The normal dress code is in full effect. The principal said that since the student body was allowed to wear silly socks on drug-free day this week, they've already all the dress-up holidays they need.

Now, I agree that the normal dress code should be followed even on Halloween. You don't want the students trying to show up in one of the "I'm a _____ slut" costumes that have become so popular. But to completely ban costumes and fun on that day is ridiculous. When he went as far as to ban candy, I decided that the guy deserves little respect.

One of the student clubs on campus is raising money by selling "boo-grams" to be passed out at lunch. Should that be stopped too? A lot of teachers have their classroom decorated. I wonder if the Principal will wear a Halloween tie?

Sam Rayburn is a good middle school. I'm really impressed with the students that go there compared to the other two middle schools. I had thought this school was a prime candidate for my children to attend in the coming years. Though I would never base my entire decision on this strange upheavel, it does make me nervous about their other student policies.

I sure hope they don't stay so uptight. There's nothing I can't stand more than boring and controlling schools. They want to control the "fun" so they take away the normal fun and replace by their own style of fun days.

You can email the principal here:

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

New Veggie Tales!

I wonder who wants to see this more: Grandma & Grandpa or my kids?

You can view a preview for it at the Veggie Tales's Website. It sure looks good.

Lord of the Beans follows the fantastic journey of a wide-eyed Flobbit named Toto Baggypants (Junior Asparagus) who inherits a bean with amazing powers from his Uncle Billboy (Archibald Asparagus). In this moving story, young Toto learns that he has been given an extraordinary gift -- but what is it for?

Together with Randalf, fearless ranger Ear-A-Corn, sharpshooting elf Leg-O-Lamb, and surly dwarf Grumpy, Toto forms the Fellowship of the Bean and embarks on a dangerous quest to find the answer to his question.

The journey takes them across the Mountains of Much Snowia, to the Elders of the Razzberry Forest, through the Blue Gate and into the desolate Land of Woe -- in search of an answer. Lord of the Beans is a touching tale that dramatically and comically illustrates how important it is to use the gifts God has given us ... for good.

Special Bonus Silly Song!Silly Songs with Elves
Featuring Wynonna singing an original song!"It's About Love

Texas to Harness Off-Shore Wind Power

"This could be the Spindletop of this century," said General Land Office Commissioner Jerry Patterson.
Texas is leading the way by becoming the first state to allow an off-shore wind power system. The Houston Chronicle has the most comprehensive report on the subject.

Paving the way for Texas to be home to the first wind farm along the U.S. coast, the state has leased an 11,000-acre swath of the Gulf of Mexico, seven miles off Galveston Island, for gigantic wind turbines that could eventually power 40,000 homes and generate millions of dollars for state schools.

The lease, the first granted by any government agency in the nation for an offshore wind project, marks a new era of pollution-free energy production for the Gulf, which for decades has been the site of thousands of wells and platforms tapping the Earth's depths for air-polluting natural gas and oil.

It also signals the migration of Texas' wind industry which ranks second in the nation behind California in kilowatt hours produced by breezes and gusts from the Panhandle and western parts of the state to the coast, where winds are more consistent during peak daylight hours and large population centers such as Houston aren't as far away.

Though I'm thrilled with this development, my first thought was "Texas?" I was sure that another state would have jumped on this environmentally friendly energy source before the gas lovin' & guzzlin' government of Texas.

President Herman Schellstede said he chose Texas to avoid delays. Louisiana, his first choice, had no experience with transmitting and building wind infrastructure, he said, and what entity would have jurisdiction over federal waters where he wanted to build was unclear until the energy bill was passed in July, putting the Mineral Management Service in charge of offshore wind projects.

The government of Texas only meets every two years to set rules and policy. Political Science professors will claim this is an "elitist" type of government, lacking in true representation. But here were have a classic example of my government providing low-cost power for it's citizens and earning the state millions in royalty funds for education.

Texas claims jurisdiction over it's waters up to 10 miles off the coast. Other states only claim up to 3 miles off the coast and after that, federal government rules and red tape kick in. I believe this policy was set back when we were our own nation and we've refused to change it ever since.

But it's not only red tape that's hindering wind rig projects in other states. Here's a quick look at an earlier 2001 wind rig project from the Boston Globe.

Officials say the proposed $300 million project in Texas should go more smoothly than plans for a wind farm proposed off Massachusetts. That project has been delayed by local residents, including Senator Edward M. Kennedy and former CBS News anchorman Walter Cronkite.

''This is Texas. We don't have Walter Cronkite and Ted Kennedy whining about their backyards," Patterson said.

Two other offshore wind turbine farms have been proposed along the US coast, one about 4 miles off the south shore of New York's Long Island, and one in Nantucket Sound, off Cape Cod. The New York project is awaiting approval by the Army Corps of Engineers. The Nantucket project, also in federally controlled waters, faces opposition because of fears that it would ruin the ocean view from the shore.

So who's the elitist here? I know a couple of whiners with yachts that refuse to accept reality. We can see some rigs and boats from the shoreline in Galveston all the time. The only reason I know what those tiny gray dots on the horizon are is because my mother told me when I was a kid. Here's Texas' response to this devestating problem:
Jim Blackburn, an environmental attorney and longtime advocate for the Texas coast, called the destruction of views a "nonissue"

Your loss = our gain.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Halloween Potluck

Thanks to QuintessentialMe for this stomach rolling fun. I think...Well, maybe not...

Kitty Litter Cake
Ease of Cooking: Beginner
Notes:This is another fun one for Halloween, or the kiddos.
Ingredients:1 Spice or German Chocolate Cake Mix
1 White Cake Mix
1 Pkg. White Sandwich Cookies
1 large pkg. Vanilla Instant Pudding Mix
Green food coloring
12 small Tootsie Rolls
1 *new* kitty litter box
1 *new* kitty litter box plastic liner
1 *new* pooper scooper

Click on the title of this post for the full recipe instructions.

My Pet Fish

NOVA has spun off a new program called Science Now. It's a tv magazine style science show with short segments on a variety of hot science subjects. Hubby and I were lucky enough to catch the fourth episode of this show and got quite a few laughs with it. Since PBS is public television, you can go and watch this whole program on their web site for free. Click on the title of this page to go to their main webpage. It's only 6 minutes long.

The episode that had hubby and I laughing so hard was the one about Pet Surgery. They were removing skin cancer from a pet goldfish. Yes, a goldfish. The vets had devised a way to pump water into the fish so it can breathe while the surgeons perform the operation. Thankfully, the fish was okay and will enjoy many more years swimming in circles to the enjoyment of it's owners.

There was another story about a man who raises Japanese Koi fish. When a fish of his broke her back, he paid top dollar for surgery to repair the spine. He had all the same specialists for the fish as you or I would have if we went into surgery. And this fish lives happily in the pond still with it's owner. As a parting shot, the tv showed the man in the pond "cuddling" with his fish. Yeah, you gotta see it to believe it.

I think every generation of people say, "Whoa, this obsession has gone too far" but nothing comes of it. Remember that dumb woman who spent $60,000 to clone her dead pet cat? She trying to portray herself as normal but in my mind she was just stupid. She should have just let her cat have kittens so she could have some of his look-a-like offspring. There's always one in the bunch.

But how much is a pet worth nowadays? Did you know that people sue vets and neighbors for the death of their pets now, just like they sue docs over the death of their 97 yr old relatives? Yup, frivolous lawsuits because of Fluffy and Spot are rising fast. And the amount that juries award to families is heart stopping.

Woman awarded $45,000 after dog kills cat
Canada: dog alimony arrives
Dog gets off leash, punitive damages for pet store

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Canada gets it right...sorta

When the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that child pornography was okay as long as real children weren't involved in the production, it made me sick. Thankfully, the guys extremely north of us are still fighting the battle. I wonder if the lawyer in this case will take it o the Canadian Supreme Court too.

A 26-year-old Edmonton man has been spared jail time in what is believed to be the first case of cartoon child pornography in Canada.

Gordon Chin pleaded guilty in provincial court today to importing thousands of pages of a Japanese cartoon called Anime featuring characters that look like Pokemon and Astro Boy engaging in explicit sex acts. He purchased the cartoon over the Internet.

Police seized 15 comic books in Vancouver destined for his Edmonton address.
They also seized 63 more books at his Edmonton home and four binders of the
cartoon printed off the Internet.

But the author of the article really screwed up in his background knowledge of the subject. First, he refers to the comics as Anime while they are really called Manga. The article later makes the claim that Anime is illegal in Canada but it isn't. Good try though.

Prairie View A&M Student arrested with bomb-making chemicals in his dorm room

Howdy! Let me introduce you to the dysfunctional child of the Texas A&M System. Prairie View A&M is a part of the Texas A&M system but operates completely independently of all the other Texas A&M schools. Rarely does big brother step in to fix the many educational problems with Prairie View A&M. A couple years ago it was noted that 80% of PVAM teacher candidates were failing their exams. They could also use some help with their football team. (Ten straight seasons of losing every single game.) But really, that has nothing to do with this breaking news.

Prairie View A&M Student Investigated by Secret Service and FBI

Prairie View A&M, a quiet part of the A&M University System. More than 8,000 students are enrolled at the university and now one of those students, 30-year old exchange student Okwudili Franklin Aluka, is at the center of a federal criminal investigation.

"The secret service contacted our campus police to let them know that they had allegations that one of our students had been involved with trying to pass counterfeit bills," said Tyra Metoyer, Public Relations Officer, Prairie View A&M University.

Aluka allegedly passed a counterfeit $20 bill while attempting to purchase a gun at a pawn shop in Houston. After searching his room, authorities found more than counterfeit bills. According to FBI spokesman Al Tribble, hazardous chemicals were also found.

A Houston television station reported the chemicals are ones used for bomb making. Tribble wouldn't confirm that, but he did say they were way out of the norm for any household, let alone dorm room.

"The reason the FBI is investigating it is to really found what the nature of the chemicals were and what the intent was and where they came from," said Metoyer.

Aluka was arrested at his on-campus dorm where officials found hazardous chemicals and counterfeit money. Now some students are upset because they say the university should have informed them of the potential danger.

"They should have informed the students. They should have given notice about it, I shouldn't have to find out from television what's going on at my own school," said Alicia Jennings, Prairie View A&M student.

Another student, Jonathan Miller, says he's aware of what's been going on because he worked with Aluka on campus.

"He was a bit of an oddball; I don't know that much about him. I worked with him and he was very quiet, now I know why," said Jonathan Miller, Prairie View A&M student.

Aluka is currently being held in the Waller County Jail without bond. He has attended the university for a year and a half. University officials say he's been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.

Well, I'm certainly excited for the state of Texas. More publicity and reporters down here means more revenue for the state. Between the evil twin sisters, Katrina and Rita, we've had plenty of media money being spent here. No matter how weird criminals in other states are, Texas is sure to have one or two to match. Now we add Mr. Aluka to our pin up board of Texas weirdos, who seems to think he could single-handedly make a ton of counterfeit money, buy a gun, and build bombs to DESTROY THE WORLD!!!! (cue evil laugh)

Anyhow, did you read that whiny part? How is it that the media always finds a whiner to quote? In the middle of an article about a potential murderer, we get a girl, Miss Alicia Jennings, complaining about the way she found out about this problem. Apparently she heard it on tv - just like you and me. But no, Alicia Jennings is special and insists that all investigation and media broadcasting be postponed so that the campus can distribute flyers or personal telephone calls to each student.

"This pre-recorded voice message from the President of Prairie View A&M is to inform you that we have arrested somebody on campus. This time the culprit did more than just smuggle some beers into the dorm. In fact, what he did was so bad that I've had to talk to FBI and Secret Service. Thankfully they didn't ask about...[beep]

This student, Okwudili Franklin Aluka, had BOMB making chemicals in his room. If he had succeeded, you might be DEAD now. We have no idea where he might have struck. Maybe he would have walked into the student center and blow himself up. Maybe he planned on ending the lives of those quietly studying in the library. Mr. Aluka was known to have frequented those places. We do know that he did not plan to blow the stadium during football season, as the games are only sparsely attended.

The FBI suspects that Mr. Aluka might have been mad at his Chemistry professor who failed him last semester. By building a bomb and blowing up the professor's car, the suspect would have proven that in fact, he did study and learn the Chemistry material. "

Hope you liked my little bit of satire. :)

It's a dangerous job but somebody's gotta do it

My mother used to tell me constantly to turn my radio down. She was sure that every teenager was going to be deaf by the time they were thirty-five because of these new-fangled earphones. A career as an ear doctor was definitely the way to go.

The debilitating effects of leading a rock and roll lifestyle are well documented, but it seems that performing live can be particularly hazardous. At the tender age of 47, Prince has been told by doctors that he needs a hip replacement - the fallout from years of dancing onstage in high-heeled boots.

Following in the faltering footsteps of Eddie Van Halen and Mötley Crüe's Mick Mars, the 5ft 3in singer, who wears heels to enhance his height, has been prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs for the discomfort in his joints until he undergoes surgery.

Okay, I shouldn't be laughing at other people but hey, a couple snickers isn't that bad, right? Click on the title of this post to read the rest of the article. It's quite entertaining.

A Trip to the Grocery Store

I went to the store late at night tonight to get a couple essentials. Deodorant and Kleenex were in short supply in this house. Even though we have three bottles of mouthwash in the house, hubby was insistent that we get some more ACT. Geez, only a six-week dental student and already picky about which colored bottle I was to get. Walmart was stocking and they had boxes everywhere. That was a good change from just three weeks ago, when Katrina and Rita shortages were in effect. Having a bread and milk shortage kinda changes your view of life and things in general.

I grabbed all the stuff on my list plus a cute t-shirt, a gift bag on clearance, and two pumpkins for the school. I open my purse and sigh. The emptiness of my purse brought the sudden realization that I'd left my wallet in my lunch bag- for the second day. The cashier deferred the order and I raced home. I looked down at the gas gauge and silently asked God to make sure I could make it home and back. Hubby hadn't filled up the tank after his trip to Houston and it was on the line. Yikes!

I walk in, grab my wallet, and run back out. The Dr. Pepper I had started sipping was probably getting warm and my ice cream was melting back at Walmart. I parked, ran in, and opened my wallet to pay. Did you know that I went shopping on yesterday too? My check card was still at home!!! But I did have a Walmart shopping card from returned items with some cash on it. I thought I was going to have to start putting items back but in my only stroke of luck, it had twice the amount I thought it did. I gave her my only two cash dollars and that covered the whole bill.

I go out to the van and start to load. The last items I put in were the pumpkins but I discovered that one of them was bad. On the bottom there was this nasty scraped off part that was already showing mold. I locked the van and went inside to exchange it but they made it extremely complicated. The pumpkin bin was just ten feet away but I couldn't just grab and go. *sigh* And so at midnight, I had to stand in the only line behind the s l o w e s t group I've seen in a long time.

After more than 10 minutes, they opened a new register and she took me first. I told her I just needed a pumpkin, here was my receipt, and she called her manager over. Could I just grab one and go? The manager let me! Whoa...somebody with some sense!

I carried my new pumpkin out to the van. I had carefully locked it but ooops... It doesn't do it any good to lock the door if you don't bother to shut them.

And this is how my life tends to go at all times. My ice cream was melted but it tastes good anyway. Blue Bell mint chocolate chip. :) Yum Yum.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Free!! I'm Free!!

Well, I finally up and quit the long-term substitute math job that I was so excited about. The stress was unbearable because there was nothing I could do about my situation. We're always taught that problems should be fixed, but I couldn't find a way to fix this problem. There were too many students that needed strong help and they wouldn't recognize me as their teacher. I was having to call security two and three times a day to remove angry, childish students that would not sit and be quiet. They would show up in my classroom the very next day and have the same tick on their shoulder.

But I hate quitting. I felt really down that there was nothing I could do. It's simply not in my nature to leave people hanging like that. I can't stand the idea that I failed at something as simple as teaching a class.

Yesterday I took a mini-vacation and spent the day with my sister. Boy, I am starting to feel human again. I got my hair cut, bought some new books, and went to the library to get more.

But now I'm back in the same situation I was before this- I need a real job!!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Growing Up

I really wasn't prepared for the shock of seeing Little Brother with facial hair. Boy, that's the weirdest feeling. Annoying little brothers aren't supposed to have that kinda stuff.

Maybe I should send him a congratulatory card or something...

Right now I'm heading off to a cub scout family camping trip and we're sure to have a lot of fun. The weather is spectacular, with highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s. It makes it perfect weather for campfires, hot chocolate and snuggling deep in your sleeping bag. For me though, camping has developed into a new form of self-torture. I'm an avid camper but a couple years ago I developed terrible October allergies. Something brought down by the cool northern winds seems to be the mysterious culprit. I had allergy testing years ago with no conclusive results. The allergist concluded that I'm allergic to "sudden changes in weather." Yup, that was the official diagnosis.

So, I'm off to torture myself this weekend and carry a box of tissue everywhere I go. I have taken all my medicines but just having the windows open this morning has sent me into constant fits of sneezing. I like sneezing- but I don't like the sore throat and the itchy eyes that make me want to guage them out with my fingertips. This is going to be bad....

Friday, October 07, 2005

Math Joke Friday 4

The joke this week has a couple different variations so I thought I put all three for everybody to read.


There are three kinds of mathematicians: those who can count and those who can't.

There are two groups of people in the world: those who believe that the world can be divided into two groups of people and those who don't.

There are two groups of people in the world: Those who can be categorized into one of two groups of people, and those who can't.

On Your Honor

The American flag was lowered and replaced with a new flag, the flag of another country. All the people stood as the national anthem of the other country was played. But one person did not stand. That person refused to show loyalty because he was still loyal to the American flag. The people in charge take this person out of the assembly, reprimanded, and then sent to the head of the organization in charge.

What scenario am I describing? A hostile take-over? Did you expect the disident to be thrown into a furnace?

It was a High School Assembly for Mexican Independence Day involving a senior who was on track to join the US Military.

A high-school senior who stayed seated during the playing of the Mexican National Anthem at a campus ceremony fearing if he stood he might jeopardize his upcoming enlistment in the U.S. military, was reprimanded and sent to the school office.

This student doesn't seem to know that he is not supposed to stand for another country's national anthem. He's made up his own valid reason but hasn't yet said that is he not loyal to Mexico. Think of the many sporting events held around the world, including the Olympics. In no way are people of other countries forced to stand and support another's flag, anthem, or pledge. All you should do is sit quietly and politely as you would expect them to do for you. Apparently, the faculty and principal of the school don't know the basic manners of proper respect. If they don't know, then there's no way that

Thursday, October 06, 2005

A good friend

Today, a man in Italy woke up from a two-year coma and REMEMERED EVERYTHING.

CATANIA, October 6, 2005 ( - When Salvatore Crisafulli, 38, awoke Monday from a two-year long coma, his first word, according to his mother, was “Mamma.” Crisafulli was declared “nearly dead” by doctors after a serious auto accident that left him unresponsive.

His physicians, guided by modern bioethics movement that frequently rates personal autonomy above the value of life, gave up treating him and his family became his primary caregivers.

Crisafulli, a father of four, told Italian media through his brother, that he had heard and understood everything going on around him for two years and had been unable to respond. “I cried in desperation," he said.

The liberals will defend starving a person to death as the next modern thing. This is the proper direction for society to move. It's a natural evolution in our growth of mankind. Since the "rest of the world" allowed the killing of disabled people and allowed mercy killing 10 years ago, the United States is BEHIND in our civil rights agenda.

But if you stand against killing people, then you have a new ally and friend in the fight- the country of Italy. There are lots of people who are against the

Crisafulli’s case highlights a decision – made the same day Crisafulli “woke up,” – by the Italian National Bioethics Committee to recommend that the state must make it mandatory that such patients not be starved or dehydrated to death as in the US court-ordered death of Terri Schiavo earlier this year. The Italian committee holds an advisory position to government equivalent to that of the President’s Council on Bioethics in the US.

This is really great news for all pro-life people. Sometimes we lose hope when our government and media goes astray. Other people in nations around the world are continuing the same fight we lost. They haven't given up and neither will I.

The Customer is Always Right

I worked at a Blockbuster Video for 5 years and I have plenty of customer horror stories to tell. Most of them are fading off to memory now and quickly being replaced by student horror stories. At least at Blockbuster I never had anybody get up in my face and then give me the finger.

But here's a customer service story that will leave you draw- dropped. The poor CSR in this case is amazing and I couldn't help but laugh.

Readers, I give you "Vinegar Boy".

Read the whole site. Maybe I'll add some of my own stories one day.

Thanks to Phew!!!

Louisiana Problems in Texas

Some of the Louisiana students have been getting on the nerves of the Texas students. At first there was the fight at Jones High School in Houston. At another school in Houston, Westbury High School, there was an all-and-out gang fight on the front lawn of the school. Six cop cars with lights had to come and stop it. The word is that a gang from Louisiana was trying to earn some turf of its own. Now we can't figure out how a whole gang of Lousiana students were transferred to another school but they sure haven't "bonded" with their fellow gang members in Houston.

Even in my small town, "those New Orlean's students" are causing problems. More than once, I've heard some of my students complain of how pushy they are. "She thinks she can get away with pushing me around again. Well I'm not going to let her.", my student said. The next day she told us that the girl had tried to cuss her out for the third time, and she "reacted". Well, she didn't tell us exactly what she did but she was given detention for it.

And the gang members in my school aren't too happy either. "They think they can come in here and take over. What are they, stupid.? They ain't got no back-up to help them." Yup, life is hard for a lonely gang member. They've gotta fight the world because that's all they know.

Oh, and then there was the one that almost got through the safety net. The aunt tried to enroll the boy in school but she accidently let it slip that he hadn't been in class since early September. They were able to do some tracking and found that he'd been suspended for coming to school drunk in the early morning. We all agreed that the boy needed professional help. He'd probably spent the whole summer drunk and didn't know how to stop now. The school transferred him to the "needy" campus so he gets a second chance.

Bandaids for your Man

This is from OhGizmo.

You’re one tough MoFo. You ain’t got no place for no pussy Band-Aids. Hell, you get cut, you get cut. If it bleeds, it bleeds. You got nails to hammer, two by fours to cut and cement to pour. There’s just no way you’re going to be seen wearing a Band-Aid.
Unless it’s a Duct Tape Band-Aid.

Did you ever read it?

It was while I was in high School that the media blew a gasket at then Vice President Dan Quayle's Murphy Brown example of a fatherless child. I wasn't into politics then and didn't know much about it. Apparently Murphy Brown, a woman on a television show, was having a child out of wedlock. The VP used this as an example of everything that was wrong in our society and the media unrespectfully disagreed.

And for those concerned about children growing up in poverty, we should
know this: marriage is probably the best anti-poverty program of them all. Among
families headed by married couples today, there is a poverty rate of 5.7
percent. But 33.4 percent of families are headed by a single mother are in
poverty today.

I had never read the speech that Dan Quayle gave until today. I have to thank another blogger, Clayton Cramer for this now. Go read the whole thing. I don't think I'll ever be able to laugh at another Dan Quayle joke again.

I know it is not fashionable to talk about moral values, but we need to do
it. Even though our cultural leaders in Hollywood, network TV, the national
newspapers routinely jeer at them, I think that most of us in this room know
that some things are good, and other things are wrong. Now it's time to make the
discussion public.

In the end, the media and hollywood refused to let the public discussion that Dan Quayle had called for happen. There was merely a bash-fest of this very important man and all reason behind the speech thrown out. If it weren't for the blogs always looking over the shoulder of the media, this could easily happen again.

Where have I been?

I've been so stressed out that I haven't even had the energy to blog about being stressed out. I'm teaching this Geometry Class but it's a Resource class and full of kids that have no social skills. Every time I ask a student to behave, I get a huge slugfest of insults hurled at me. I regularly have security come up to the room and remove rowdy students. I am getting no where. At this rate I'll be getting my first gray hair a couple decades earlier than genetics had planned for me.

There's one student is never quiet. NEVER. He makes jokes and tries to talk to other students on the other side of the room...and they happily join him. But the kids in here are on a short string and many don't appreciate personal jokes. Instead of complaining and letting me deal with the problem, they start insulting each other, other friends come to the defense, and the problem blows up in half a moment. This happens while I'm stilling trying to get the first student to be quiet but instead he continues to throw insults and neither of them will stop.

Right now I'm so stressed out that I find myself on a short string, forgetful, and disorganized. I'm not a happy camper anymore. I don't have the strong body language to get students to be quiet. Heck, they happily IGNORE me and continue talking, even if I'm right there beside them.

STRESS!!! The classes are almost all like this. I don't know if I'm going to stay in this position. Well, if nothing improves, then I won't stay. There's no reason to torture myself in such a manner.

Monday, October 03, 2005

What I did this weekend


My mom took my family to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Expo just south of Austin this weekend. I came home hot and exhausted and totally pleased. I'll be marking this on my calendar and going again next year.

What is the Texas Parks & Wildlife Expo? It's an outdoor experience where visitors fish, shoot, kayak, rock climb, mountain bike, see and touch wildlife, learn about recreation in the Great Outdoors and see and buy the latest in outdoor gear and services. Most importantly, visitors can learn how they can help to conserve this precious resource. And it’s free!

We did a ton of the activities that are listed here. All my kids, the 9 yr old, the 7 year old, and even the 5 year old got to try archery and fly fishing. I was extremely pleased at how well my 5 year old did on all the activities. The girl's a natural outdoorsman! We didn't go shooting because they can do that at home with their dad.

I promise to add pictures this evening when I get home. I'm just blogging in between classes right now.

My day started off quite well. This was one of the rare occasions that I got up early on a Saturday morning to make it to an event. We were all ready at 7:45 except for getting the girls' hair brushed. Somehow, that took until 8:45 or later. I have no idea what we did in between that hour. Since we were supposed to leave by 8:30, I can only say that this is payback for even trying to get up early on a Saturday.

We thought we were finally ready and a pair of shoes was obtained for Whitney. She's left all her shoes at friend's houses (3 pairs at least) and has been wearing her brother's old church schools to school for the past week. It's annoying how cute they look on her. We all piled into the car. I sat down in the car and...


Dang it, something had bit me right on the back of my leg when I sat down. I jumped up out of the car in extreme pain and ran for the house. My safety-wise husband had already locked all three locks and I had to wait an eternity for him to come and unlock it all.

The next lesson I learned is that I need to re-organize my medicine cabinets so my husband can find stuff. But eventually pain relief came. So what bit me? I didn't have to wait long to find out. While looking through my pants, my husband suddenly started yelling extremely loudly! The freaking big Red Wasp was still hanging onto my pants for dear life. Next came the complicated affair of trying to get my pants off without letting them brush against my legs or let the wasp go free again.

Hubby took pity on my pants he says and let the wasp go free. I really wanted to wear those pants and squashed bug guts would have been quite the impediment to my desire. The irony of the whole mess is that at 9am on Saturday morning I was exactly where I should have been in the first place: snuggled in my blanket in bed.

Nevertheless, adventure called and we packed up and headed for the Old Spanish Trail down to Bastrop and then a quick hop over to the south of Austin. I estimate the children asked, "Are we there yet?" only about 15 times. This gives an average of one nagging wine every 6 minutes.

We took my mom's little car because it gets 30mpg. That's great gas mileage on her 200,000+ little Nissan. She has a bumper sticker on her car that states, "Don't let the car fool you. My real treasure is in heaven." Oh yeah, oh yeah. Every mile of those 200,000 shows now! So when the guy rear-ended us while waiting in line for parking at the expo, Mom took it in stride. But what she said about the idiot while inside our car was completely different what she said to his face. :) Years of customer service can make you smile through anything.

The expo was everything my Mom had hyped it to be. There were so many activities to choose from that we could barely decide. It was hard to let the kids wait in line to do the same activity three times in a row. As a parent we sometimes want to drag them along and "expose" them to everything. But it was great to them fall in love with these activities so fast. Archery was by far their favorite and we only got them away by bribing distracting them with snow cones. I enjoyed being able to use the compound bow.

Sorry to bother everybody with these wonderful pictures of my kids. However, my Grandma and Grandpa read my blog so they get to need to see them. And that super happy man is NOT Whitney's dad. That's the joy in the instructor's face as my 5 year old hit the target on only her 6th arrow. It didn't have enough power to stick but dang it, that girl's got it! The other's did impressively well too. :)

A couple of exhibits, about 10 of them, were cancelled due to Hurricane Rita.

This picture is the small "Texas Zoo" exhibit for the kids. Please notice that their zoo is made mainly of dead animals- not live ones!

I wonder how it is that the Port-o-Pot people manage to put their boxes in the full direct sun at every event. I wish I had taken a picture of them because these were first port-o-pots with American Flags on them!

Lastly, I want to mention the Birds of Prey show done by the Last Chance Forever conservation group. Their show leader could have easily passed for Buffalo Bill Cody if he had been wearing a leather jacket with fringe. He was a master falconer and let the birds fly around and dart after food. They landed right next to us! He decorated a remote control car to look like a rabbit to show us how the birds hunt and attack their prey. But he stressed that they hunted for food- not for fun- and this was not murder. To show us, he tossed a piece of food next to the "dead rabbit" and then the bird would choose the easy to get food over it's prized rabbit. The food, not the hunt, was the goal of the bird.

From most animal lover groups, you expect a heartfelt plea to stop polluting and let the animals return. This man was a master though and easily balanced the need for humanity to live with the need of the birds to live in our environment. Ignorant people shooting the birds, not hunters, is what causes most of the deaths and expensive rehabilitation that his group provides for the birds. "Don't blame this on hunters," he exclaimed as he showed us the beautiful bald eagle. The huge bird was missing half of its right wing and would never fly again.

Well, I'll be sure to go again next year, and next year... I conclude that this was worthy of getting up on Saturday morning.