Thursday, December 21, 2006

Finding the Right Christmas Tree

It really is important.

Merry Christmas to one and all.

I found this a couple of years ago and saved it. I haven't seen it on the web since. The website it came from died, or was out of business for a long time. The site is listed as under construction right now, but that's a lot more than can be said for the past couple of years.

This Christmas, I decided that it was too good to let another year pass without reposting it. I'd give more credit if I knew who to give it to.

Thanks to those who executed a memorable holiday skit!

Oh, and a Happy New Year to everyone too!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Math isn't the universal language

This is a transcript of a conversation between a series of Verizon Customer Service Representatives and a customer named George. The conversation lasted about 27 minutes. You can listed to it here if you wish, but reading the transcript will take less time.

George has started a blog to document the trials of getting Verizon to recognize the difference between .002 dollars and .002 cents after he was billed .002 dollars per kilobyte, not the quoted .002 cents per kilobyte for wireless internet service. It really is sad that so many people cannot grasp the conversion from dollars to cents or cents to dollars.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Watch the Illegal Immigrants!

Texas has opened to public viewing the first fifteen or so of cameras installed on the border. They are just test cameras to help the state decide which system they want to purchase right now. You can click HERE to go to the site and view the live-action feed. The site is appropriately named, "Texas Virtual Neighborhood Border Watch." If you see something suspicious, hit a button and alert the authorities!

CNN had a video on their website with two Texans talking about it. The guy for it said he would be happy to do his part and watch. He also said he's be happy if they spent a million dollars on this program. I wonder if anybody told him they're already planning on spending 5 million on it. :) Another lady, the opposing view, seemed to be worried about vigilantism and complained that the public is not trained but government officials already are. But heh, I think I've been perfectly trained to watch tv. :)

Television station KVIA has a pretty good article about the cameras if you want to read more.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Candy Alert!

I like to refer to Halloween as the time when parents make their kids work and slave for candy especially for the parent. Did you really think that those parents let that hyper 4 year old eat another 20lbs of candy that he acquired?

From Hallmark Magazine:

Parents Confess to Stealing Halloween Candies!
Hallmark Magazine Survey Discloses the Most Popular Snacks Parents Swipe From Their Kids' Trick-Or-Treat Bags

NEW YORK, Oct. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- You suspected the truth when you were a kid, and now parents have confessed that it was so: They really DO steal candy from their kids' Trick-or-Treat bags! According to a recent poll published in the premiere issue of Hallmark Magazine, Reese's Peanut Butter Cup was the candy parents were most likely to swipe. Other popular targets of parental pilfering:

1. Reese's Peanut Butter Cup (24%)
2. Almond Joy (12%)
3. Snickers (9%)
4. Butterfinger (8%)
5. Kit Kat (6%)

"My parents always told me they were just keeping my bag so I wouldn't eat it all at once and get sick," said Amy Palanjian, Assistant Editor, Hallmark Magazine, and the author of the article. "This is so disappointing."

A noble minority claimed that they would never steal candy from their kids' treat bags. "We don't believe them for a second," said Editor-in-Chief Lisa Benenson, "but maybe that's just because all the moms here at Hallmark Magazine are just a little bit too fond of their chocolate."

"Researchers have found that the average American consumes 22 pounds of candy a year, but looking at the empty candy wrappers around our office, I'd say we're on the high side of that estimate," adds Benenson.

Just in time for Halloween, researchers at Hallmark Magazine also unveil a Sweet History of candy on page 17 of the September/October issue.

Did you know that:
* Good & Plenty is the oldest branded American Candy, dating back to 1893?
* Tootsie Rolls were included in WWII rations because they can withstand severe weather?
* Candy corn dates back to 1898. Nine billion pieces of it will be produced during 2006?
* Snickers, America's best-selling candy bar, is named after the Mars family horse?

For more candy facts and the full Sweet History of candy, check out the current issue of Hallmark Magazine or go online at Hallmark Magazine

Hallmark Magazine is the women's lifestyle magazine that talks to women about the true substance of their lives -- family, friends, homes and community. The magazine is available through subscription as well as in booksellers, grocery stores, drug stores, mass merchants and Hallmark Gold Crown(R) stores across the country. Hallmark Magazine is a subsidiary of Hallmark Cards, Inc. SOURCE Hallmark Magazine

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Bryan PD TRT

As much as I like the town I live in, it has many of the same problems as anywhere else. This is an excerpt from SWAT USA, which is a series aired on Court TV featuring SWAT teams across the nation performing their duties in the field. Bryan PD’s TRT (Tactical Response Team) was featured in an episode which originally aired on 08 Oct 2006. The first half of the show was dedicated to the Bryan TRT while the second half featured San Antonio SWAT, specifically their team leader Willie Cantu, who is faced with a hostage situation. (I haven't found that part of the show yet.)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Lights out, Lights on, Lights out

Yippee! The Brazos Valley had a brown out for about three hours, and our part of town went completely dark for about another two hours, from 8:30 to 10:30pm yesterday. I was hoping to see some stars but a bright moon lit the entire street and sky instead. Purty!

We had planned on ordering pizza for dinner last night but were thwarted by the brownouts. The pizza man said, "Try back in 15 minutes," and then "Try back in 20 minutes." My kids know what generators are but didn't understand why the hospitals have them but not the pizza joints. Hubby got the bright idea to just drive and get whatever pizza Double Dave's had left, but he was greeted at the restaurant by a line going out the door! Everybody else in town suddenly decided they wanted pizza too. I took forever to get our dinner and Double Dave's shorted us a pepperoni roll, but the family loved it. Unfortunately, Double Dave's fried one of their ovens with the brownouts.

When the lights went out completely, the neighbors started coming out with lawn chairs. One parent broke open some Halloween glow necklaces and passed them out to the kids running everywhere. Hubby broke open an old army glow stick and was disappointed to find it was an infared glow stick. (It glows but only if you're wearing night-vision goggles!)

I stayed up past midnight to reset all the clocks the easy way.

The news reports said a $1 million transformer blew up but I really think that's just a cover-up. Here's some more realistic reasons that the power went up:

(1) Organized revenged attack by squirrels, for the multiple deaths of their comrades.
(2) Somebody at the Power Plant forgot his anniversary and needed a good excuse.
(3) Chuck Norris, Texas Ranger needed power and we'll find out why on the next episode.
(4) Power diverted to the Houston Texan's training room in attempt to revive team.
(5) Texas A&M University experiment gone right.

Monday, October 02, 2006

My thoughts on Foley

Congressman Foley of Florida has been exposed as a predator in recent Instant Message (IMs) conversations he had with young pages on the Hill. First, the facts:

Congressman Foley sent some emails to young men that were later reported to authorities. The emails were described as "overtly friendly", it was discussed with Foley, and the issue was thought over. However, some really nasty IMs to the pages have recently surfaced. They went way beyond "friendly" and have crossed the line in sexual solicitation.

I am not calling for the head of Speaker of the House like some. I disagree that Hastert and party are in any way to blame. You simply don’t go around accusing people of attempted child solicitation without more proof. The emails alone just don’t cut it.

Now I wonder about those that held onto the IMs. After all, we’re being told that somebody has been “shopping” these IMs to reporters for a while now. I've heard “months” being tossed around. (From the Foley campaign, I believe.) If true, This person/these people should have federal charges brought against them for failing to report the abuse. I recall how the blogosphere spit upon that Watergate tattle-taler, who reported the fiasco to a reporter instead of the police or a justice authority. I see parallels between these two.

Frankly, I can’t figure out how this information would have been collected by a group to release it. How many sources are producing/releasing these IMs? I’d like to learn more about the big picture.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Motorcycle Quotables

I have collected fun quotes and bits of wisdom for a while. I have not verified the citations, but supply them in the form I have seen it presented. Choose your favorites and share a laugh. If you do not see one of your favorites, I would encourage you to post it. I will add it to the list.

Great motorcycle quotes and wisdom...

Four wheels move the body. Two wheels move the soul.

“200mph, no hands. d**n that’d be cool right before the part where you die.”
– A. Duthie

“There are only three sports: mountain climbing, bull fighting, and motor racing. All the rest are merely games.”
– Ernest Hemingway

“Calling upon my years of experience, I froze at the controls.”
– Stirling Moss

“Most motorcycle problems are caused by the nut that connects the handlebars to the saddle.”

Seen on a motorcycle’s rearviews:
“Warning: objects seen in mirror are disappearing rapidly”

Got a $5 head? Get a $5 helmet.

“There’s the V-4 thing: there’s just something about it that inline 4s don’t have, and V-twins have too much of.”
– Murray Duncan

“Life may begin at 30, but it doesn’t get real interesting until about 150.”

If you’re going to lead, then lead. If you’re going to follow, get the hell out of my way!

“Faster, faster, faster, until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death...”
– Hunter Thompson

“Keep thy eye on the tach, thine ears on the engine, least thy whirlybits seek communion with the sun”
– John 4:50

“You start the game with a full pot o’ luck and an empty pot o’ experience... The object is to fill the pot of experience before you empty the pot of luck.”

“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in one pretty and well preserved piece, but to skid across the line broadside, thoroughly used up, worn out, leaking oil, shouting GERONIMO!”

“Insisting on perfect safety is for people who don’t have the balls to live in the real world.”
– Mary Shafer, NASA Ames Dryden

“I believe in treating everyone with respect, but, first you have to get their attention.”

“Never trade the thrills of living for the security of existence”.

Everyone knows Honda’s attitude in the GP Paddock! “ Who will be behind us this weekend? “

“A zest for living must include a willingness to die.”
– R.A. Heinlein

If you think you don’t need a helmet, you probably don’t.

“Racing is living, everything else is just waiting”

“If you wait, all that happens is that you get older.”
– Larry McMurty

“Why are motorcycle dealers closed on Sundays? Because Sunday is for worship... Catholics go to church, Motorcyclists go to the track.”
– Justin Skalka

I want to leave this world the same way I came into it: Screaming and covered in blood.

Kansas: home of the highway with 318 miles and 11 curves.

What does a Harley and hound dog have in common ? They both spend most of their time in the back of a pickup truck. What differentiates the two ? The hound dog can get in and out of the pickup under his own power.

“98% of all Harleys ever sold are still on the road. The other 2% made it home.”

Midnight bugs taste best.

Saddlebags can never hold everything you want, but they CAN hold everything you need.

NEVER argue with a woman holding a torque wrench.

Never try to race an old geezer, he may have one more gear than you.

Home is where your bike sits still long enough to leave a few drops of oil on the ground.

Routine maintenance should never be neglected.

It takes more love to share the saddle than it does to share the bed.

The only good view of a thunderstorm is in your rearview mirror.

Never be afraid to slow down.

Bikes don’t leak oil, they mark their territory.

Don’t ride so late into the night that you sleep through the sunrise.

Pie and coffee are as important as petrol.

Sometimes it takes a whole tankful of fuel before you can think straight.

If you want to get a job, you may have to compromise your principals (you may even have to shave).

Riding faster than everyone else only guarantees you’ll ride alone.

Never hesitate to ride past the last street light at the edge of town.

Never mistake horsepower for staying power.

A good rider has balance, judgment, and good timing. So does a good lover.

A cold hamburger can be reheated quite nicely by strapping it to an exhaust pipe and riding forty miles.

Never do less than forty miles before breakfast.

If you don’t ride in the rain, you don’t ride.

A bike on the road is worth two in the shed.

Respect the person who has seen the dark side of motorcycling and lived.

Young riders pick a destination and go... Old riders pick a direction and go.

A good mechanic will let you watch without charging you for it.

Sometimes the fastest way to get there is to stop for the night.

Always back your bike into the curb, and sit where you can see it.

Work to ride & ride to work.

Whatever it is, it’s better in the wind.

Two-lane blacktop isn’t a highway – it’s an attitude.

When you look down the road, it seems to never end – but you better believe it does.

A rider can smell a party 5,000 miles away.

Winter is Nature’s way of telling you to polish.

A motorcycle can’t sing on the streets of a city.

Keep your bike in good repair: Motorcycle boots are NOT comfortable for walking.

People are like Motorcycles: each is customized a bit differently.

If the bike isn’t braking properly, you don’t start by rebuilding the engine.

Remember to pay as much attention to your partner as you do your carburetor.

Sometimes the best communication happens when you’re on separate bikes.

Well-trained reflexes are quicker than luck.

Good coffee should be indistinguishable from 50 weight motor oil.

The best alarm clock is sunshine on chrome.

Learn to do counter-intuitive things that may someday save your butt.

The twisties – not the superslabs –separate the riders from the squids.

When you’re riding lead, don’t spit.

If you really want to know what’s going on, watch what’s happening at least five cars ahead.

Don’t make a reputation you’ll have to live down or run away from later.

If the person in the next lane at the stoplight rolls up the window and locks the door, support their view of life by snarling at them.

A friend is someone who’ll get out of bed at 2 am to drive his pickup to the middle of nowhere to get you when you’re broken down.

If she changes her oil more than she changes her mind follow her.

Catching a yellow jacket in your shirt @ 70 mph can double your vocabulary.

If you want to get somewhere before sundown, you can’t stop at every tavern.

There’s something ugly about a NEW bike on a trailer.

Don’t lead the pack if you don’t know where you’re going.

Sleep with one arm through the spokes and keep your pants on.

Practice wrenching on your own bike.

Everyone crashes. Some get back on. Some don’t. Some can’t.

Beware the rider who says the bike never breaks down.

2 bikes is useful because at least one can be raided for parts at any given time.

Don’t argue with an 18-wheeler.

Never be ashamed to unlearn an old habit.

Maintenance is as much art as it is science.

A good long ride can clear your mind, restore your faith, and use up a lot of fuel.

If you can’t get it going with bungee cords and electrician’s tape, it’s serious.

If you ride like there’s no tomorrow, there won’t be.

Bikes parked out front mean good chicken-fried steak inside.

Gray-haired riders don’t get that way from pure luck.

There are drunk riders. There are old riders. There are NO old, drunk riders.

Thin leather looks good in the bar, but it won’t save your butt from “road rash” if you go down.

The best modifications cannot be seen from the outside.

Always replace the cheapest parts first.

You can forget what you do for a living when your knees are in the breeze.

No matter what marquee you ride, it’s all the same wind.

Patience is the ability to keep your motor idling.

Only a Biker knows why a dog sticks his head out of a car window.

Four wheels good, two wheels better

There are those who have crashed and there is those that will crash.

There are two types of people in this world, people who ride motorcycles and people who wish they could ride motorcycles.

Never ride faster than your guardian angel can fly

It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters in the end.

Learning to ride at 41 (or 91) is better than never learning to ride at all!

Friday, August 11, 2006

West Nile: "Home, Home on Our Range"

Bad news on the doorstep:

From KBTX:

The explosion of human cases of West Nile continues in Brazos County. Friday, health department officials said they are now aware of seven possible cases of the disease.

Officials announced there are five people who are "presumptive positive" for West Nile in Brazos County. That's in addition to the two cases that the state have confirmed, which we first reported to you Thursday.

One of the most severly effected people, and the only one who has released his info, is a Bryan Police sergent. However, there's a lot of hope and prayers for this man.

There was a huge amount of rainfall in July last month, filling up streams and waterholes that are typically dry all August long. Also, a different breed of day-flying misquito just tested positive as a carrier in this county. I'm sure these factors have contributed this out break at least some.
"They had a big jump on us this year," said Texas A&M expert Jim Olsen of the mosquitoes in the area, "so we anticipated that if West Nile was going to pop, it was going to pop big, and it did."

At the press conference, the local West Nile experts laid out the oft-repeated but often necessary statements: West Nile is here, there and everywhere in the county.

"This is a preventable illness," Charles Williams with the county health department said. "The way you prevent the illness is not to be bit my mosquitoes."
You know, I wish they could just be that straight forward about STD's. "This is a preventable STD. The way you prevent the illness is not sleeping around."

In addition to the human cases, the first local horse has tested positive for West Nile. No word on where in Brazos County the animal is stabled. The health department is encouraging all horse owners to see their veterinarian to get vaccinations for the disease.
I did a quick google about vaccines for horses and found they've been around for approximately three years. The website for the CDC info on this hasn't been updated since 2003 so I presume that date is related. However, maybe there's hope that an effective human vaccine can be developed quickly since effective one for other animals is now available.

Math Joke for Friday

As I attempt to enlighten you to the joys and truth of math, I present to you the following:

The other day, I was speaking to a friend, Kimberly, and she said she planned to teach an art course dedicated to the math and functionality of art. Personally, I was truly confused. I had never heard math and art used in the same sentence before.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Computer Genius Am I

Hubby** and I learned all the in's and out's of Windows Operating System because of our then toddler son. At the time, he would reach up and grab the mouse, franticly moving it to and fro, hitting the button as fast as he could. He had to be fast because I was chasing him down right away! It was always a marvel to me to discover what damages and changes that boy could do to our computer because of 30 seconds of random mouse clicking.

However, it was my job to UNDO all those weird things. Hence, I learned Windows Operating System.

But here's another funny blog post, "Revenge", a story of the boy getting the hand up on his mother. I feel for this mother.

**Hubby claims that he already knew everything and learned it in high school. I dispute this claim of his.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Are your kids reward dependent?

School's coming back and with it my home will accumulate a-hundred-and-one small junk toys ordered through the Oriental Trading Company, more of the same kindI just got rid of during this summer's garage sale. They're passed out at schools as prizes for every good behavior. At my children's elementary school, they get prizes for behaving in the lunch room, for staying straight in line, for being the best class in P.E., for good grades, if they wear an orange shirt on Wednesday... I can keep naming them forever.

Thankfully, I've been able to counter that public school culture at home. Hubby and I debated a long time what our parenting philosophy was going to be. Were we going to pay for chores done? Should they have a set allowance? What will their responsibilities be? How much control will I exert over their allowance spending once I "give it to them"?

My favorite parenting book, Kids are Worth It!, by Barbara Coloroso has this list to help clue you into if you're raising a reward dependent child:

The following is a checklist of warning signs that your child might be reward-dependent. Most children will exhibit some of these signs as they struggle to develop their own sense of self. It is the frequency, intensity, and persistence of these behaviors that would indicate a need for concern and intervention.

1. "Does to please" to win approval of those in authority.
2. Does what is told without questioning.
3. Lacks initiative, waits for orders.
4. Sense of self is defined externally; has dignity and worth when producing what adults want.
5. Who she is and what she does are one and the same. If she does something "bad," she sees herself as "bad."
6. Uses his history as an excuse for his behavior.
7. Is pessimistic, despairs easily.
8. Places blame outside self: "He made me do it." "It's not my fault."
9. Hides mistakes, feaful of adult's wrath.
10. Lies to avoid consequences and cover mistakes.
11. Feels controlled.
12. Feels worthwhile only when on top, when number one.
13. Is competative, gets ahead at the expense of others.
14. Needs to be perfect, views mistakes as bad.
15. Seeks approval and fears disapproval, fearful of rejection.
16. Is conformist. Goes along with the crowd.
17. Considers behavior by its consequences. "If I don't get caught, what is wrong with it."
18. Focuses on the past and the future, misses the moment. Worries about "What if..."
19. Experiences self-talk that is negative; parental injunctions keep playing over and over.
20. Has private reservations about public self; "If they really knew me..."
21. Uses only simple problem-solving skills to try to solve all problems.
22. Is always concerned about the "bottom line."
23. Says what she thinks other want to hear.
24. Is cautious, insecure.
25. Has a mercenary spirit; is selfish, self-centered, greedy, does good deeds to obtain rewards or avoid punishment.
26. Is cynical and skeptical; views world in terms of "us" and "them."
27. Swallows values without question from those in authority.
28. Frames deeds with "should."
29. Holds on to resentments.
30. Is oversensitive to criticism, diqualifies compliments.

"Rewards and punishment are the lowest form of education" - Chuang-Tzu

I would think the easiest problem to spot would be #9. This makes #8 & #10 side-effects of the #9 problem. If your kid is scared of you and in tears because he dropped his dinner plate, then you've got a real problem. If everytime an accident happens, your kid cries and lies, you haven't taught him how to deal with the problem. And when I say, "how to deal with it", I mean, to fix the problem rather than sobbing hysterically. For example, if the kids drops his dinner plate, he should think about cleaning it up. He'll probably still need your help cleaning it up but at least he's taken control of his mistake, his problem, and made it right. That's what you have to do in the real world too.

I think the worst side effects are the last four. If you're a kid whose looking for an authority to praise you, you can easily be sucked into a gang. You listen to your gangs values ("the gang family comes first"), you follow the gang's ideals ("He should be beaten for that look he gave me"), you never forgive any little thing, and instantly hate any teacher who gives you a criticism.

And oddly enough, I took a parenting class with that book at the very same school I was complaining about! Well, to be honest, they were quite a bit better about handing out prizes this year than last year.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Bug Trap

Unlike most people I know, and especially my mother-in-law, I LIKE spiders and bugs. Well, I don't roaches, no matter how clean entymologist tell me they are. And gnats and flies are definitely off the list too. Whenever I find a spider, I have my husband put it outside so that it can live and eat more of the bugs that I don't like.

This past March, my son received a bug house as a birthday gift. Now this must be the most annoying, worse bug house I have ever seen. At first I thought it cute with it's decorative bugs and inside lanscaping. It has a button you can push that plays the most annoying bug sounds I've ever heard. And inside are three bugs that light up. Instead of looking like fireflys, they look more and more like radioactive roaches to me.

Well, spring has come and so have the bugs. Some big wolf spider thought it would find a meal in my bedroom and, instead of tossing it outside, I decided to put it in this bug house. It was all for naught because the bug died a mere 24 hours later. All dead bugs are icky and nasty so I had to have my son clean it out.

And just a week later I found another large wolf spider! My kids were thrilled and hit that noise button a hundred times. I'm sure all that ambient noise drove the spider insane; either that or it was scared of the radioactive roaches that occupied it's cell. Whatever the cause, it found a hole in the handle and never came out. I'm sure it's shrunken body is still in the bug house.

It was only a day later when we discovered another spider! I put the spider in the bug house and instantly regretted it. This one was probably going to die too. I used to save spiders and now I'd inavertly been the cause of two deaths. A third death was quite forseeable. So I took the bug cage outside and put it on it's side with the top off. Surely the spider would crawl out and escape.

Six hours later the idiot spider was still there. It happily had strung a couple of web lines and was sitting on one of the radioactive roaches. Since I couldn't just leave the bug cage outside for the kids to steal, I decided that spider had to go by force. So I took the bug and shook it upside down- and the spider was still there! I banged it against the wall and banged it against the ground to get that spider out and back into it's natural habitat.

How does the story end? Well, I killed it of course. You see, as I banged the bug cage on the ground, the spider fell out. But I banged it again and accidently smashed the spider as I hit it against the ground.

So the bug house of death has been retired and I will no longer try to catch bugs for my kids to see. They'll just have to catch their own bugs.

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Search is Over

I have missed out on the opportunity to buy a couple of motorcycles since I couldn’t just go running off whenever I saw a deal. School has to come first, especially since it has been such a rough semester.

I finally had the time to go and look last weekend. Here is the description from the online Cycle Trader. The image was of a showroom lined with many rows of neatly lined bikes. I have seen that sort of thing before. Some places don't bother to keep up with photos of all the bikes they sell and just have a stock picture they use.

2001 YAMAHA FZ1, blue, 14K miles, very clean, new tires, $5,000, obo, All Texas Powersport, McKinney TX, 972-XXX-XXXX

I called and talked to a man about a bike. Sounded good. Not “too good to be true” good. It just sounded like a good deal. He described the bike as being in great shape with custom tribal graphics job. 14k on the odometer isn’t too bad either. He slipped and told me it was $4500, not the $5k from the ad. I took advantage of the offer and made arrangements to go first thing in the morning.

When I was about an hour away from the shop, I get a call. He asks me how much he had said it would be. I reminded him that he had told me $4500. He told me that the price he had quoted me was for another bike he had. He started to ask for me to meet him in the middle somewhere on the price, but changed his mind quickly and left it at, “If that’s what I told you, that’s what you’ll pay.”

Up to this point I have had different bells and whistles sounding off one warning after another, but I had determined to check this bike out all the way.

The shop is on the southbound feeder, but I saw it and the bike out front from the northbound lane before I exited and made the u-turn. Excitement mounted when I saw the bike, but then I realized something was amiss with this shop. It wasn’t a bike shop. They sell trailer homes there. There is a guy out front that likes to work on bikes and 4-wheelers and occasionally sells a bike or two. There is no showroom lined with bikes of any kind. Just a shack.

Remember the ad at the top? The description says “very clean.” When I walked up, this is the bike I found.

  • Engine cases scuffed and gouged from a (some?) fall/slide(s).
  • Fairing sanded off from sliding.
  • Crash evidence on levers.
  • Crash evidence on Jardine CF muffler.
  • Worn, rusted, and un-maintained chain and sprockets.
  • The clutch cable, likely the original piece, didn’t look like it had ever been lubed.
  • Tires were low quality and improperly sized. Though claimed to be almost new with a couple of hundred miles on them, they had signs of wear and age.
  • Brakes were poor. Though there was lots of pad left, they were probably aged or glazed to the point of not working, nevermind the fluid probably being the OEM stuff and needing to be flushed and bled. These brakes are straight off Yamaha’s finest performance motorcycles. This bike felt like it’s brakes were made of wood and had about as much stopping power as a jelly doughnut.
  • The whole bike was covered in scuffs and scratches from someone probably stunting it and climbing around on it.
  • Custom tribal graphics? More like stickers to cover more scratches.
  • Behind the seat on the tail of the bike was an Evil Calvin peeing on something.

I took a test ride and can say that the motor is probably good, but that’s about it. We parted company after I explained that I didn’t want to buy a fixer-upper, especially so close to blue book value. His boss was probably just as happy that the bike didn’t sell so he could try to get more for it anyway.

With dark clouds hanging over us (literally and figuratively) we were homeward bound, empty-handed. We made a pit stop at a random fast food joint next to the highway and headed off again. I noticed a Harley Davidson dealership on the feeder next to the onramp and thought out loud that sometimes bike shops cluster together, and wondered if there happened to be a Japanese dealer nearby. Just after getting on the on-ramp, I saw it: a big red wing on the side of a large truck. That isn’t a common sight outside the realm of biking. I made it back around to the Honda dealership so I could look at something shiny and forget the earlier trauma.

When I walked into the Honda dealership there wasn’t much in the way of used bikes out. I asked if they had anything in the back. They didn’t, but they had another dealership about an hour north. About five minutes later the salesman comes back and tells me they have an ’02 FZ1, and if I was interested, they could have it at their shop in a couple of hours. I walked into a Honda shop and walked out with a Yamaha.

So, long story short(er), after all the hassle, I now have a shiny ’02 FZ1 in blue with a very noisy pipe. I’ll have to fix that one.

Mexican Women Want Their Men Back

I might have called it hillarious if it wasn't so true. Some Mexican women sent a letter in for publication stating they wanted their men to come back home. They wanted them home to help raise the child, till their corn fields, and work on the jewelry. The money they send home isn't worth living your whole life without your husband or your father.

Quote from

Not all Mexican women want to have “anchor babies” in the Unites States. The real Mexican women of Tecalpulco want their migrant men to come back home and take care of the babies they left behind. “Close the U.S. borders!” they say. “Send our men back home!”

Tecalpulco is a small village in Guerrero, Mexico, on Mexico’s southernmost border. It is just north of the city of Campuzano.
Tecalpulco is famous for hand-made craft and jewelry. There is an internationally known artisans establishment there called ArtCamp. Vacationers know the place. The artisans run a coop, and they’re subject to the pressures of global market manipulation.

But their men don’t care. They’ve all moved norte, to join the mass trespassing movement in America. And the women of southern Mexico are tired of this nonsense. They have expressed their protest to, where a number of pieces on Mexican issues have been posted in recent weeks. has received direct mail from the artisanas campesinas, the women who make the famous jewelry.

I’ve gotten permission to post this correspondence. The women write from the heart in imperfect English, as one might expect.

Here is the first, from May 4, 2006:

When our men went to the United States they were young and adventurous; They have had their adventure, now we want them to come home to us and to their families and to their home country. Close the border so that the ones who are here do not leave. We have work now and the men can help us to sand-down and polish the jewelry.

Our group is of women from the village of Tecalpulco. The tradition of our village is handcrafted fashion jewelry. Since the men have left, we women have organized a good business of fashion jewelry production in cottage industry. The men can help us, they don’t have any excuse to stay [in America].

Thank you very much from the hearts of the women of Artesanas Campesinas.

Rosalinda Mejia Baron
Eva Albavera
Viveros, Contact
Telefonos:001 762 62 73481001
762 62 22758

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Copperfield Uses Illusion to Evade Robbery

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida — Illusionist David Copperfield magically escaped getting robbed.

After his show at a West Palm Beach performing arts center Sunday Copperfield was walking with two female assistants back to their tour bus when four teenagers pulled up in a black car and two armed demanded the group's belongings, according to police.

An assistant handed over $400 from her pockets while the other gave up her purse with euro200, $100, her passport, plane tickets and a cellphone. Copperfield refused to empty his pockets, the report said.

Copperfield says he turned his pockets inside out to reveal nothing in them, even though he was carrying his passport, wallet and cell phone.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Kitty Rescue!

Good news! That dang cat is safe!

Cat trapped for 14 days rescued in New York

NEW YORK — After 14 days trapped in the innards of a Greenwich Village building, Molly the cat finally emerged wearing a look on her face that said, "What's all the fuss about?"

As a crowd of reporters and onlookers jostled for a glance, the 11-month-old black cat appeared docile and unscathed despite her ordeal, which came to a happy end on
Friday after a volunteer pulled her to safety from a crawl space.

"I think you'll all agree that she is in great shape," said a proud Peter Myers, a delicatessen owner in the building who kept Molly in his store to catch mice.

Molly's distressed meows — audible from the sidewalk outside the building — became international news, and rescuers worked almost around the clock for her safe retrieval.

The activity began after the cat wandered into a narrow space between walls and got lost in the building's complex network of beams and pipes.

Those involved in the rescue effort drilled and hammered out bricks in the cellar of the 157-year-old edifice, trying everything from special cameras to traps to locate her and get her out. Kittens were used as bait to appeal to Molly's maternal side. A pet psychic and self-described "cat therapist" even stopped by to offer a hand.

But in the end, it was good old-fashioned elbow grease that got the job done.

Rescuers drilled a hole in the wall from inside the store, cutting through layers of brick to get to Molly, said Mike Pastore, field director for Animal Care & Control of New York City, a private organization with a city contract to handle lost, injured and unwanted animals.

Animal Care & Control will set up a link on its Web site for people to donate to help with repairs at the deli.

Molly was finally retrieved by Kevin Clifford, a tunnel worker at a project nearby who had been volunteering for the rescue effort.

"I gave what they needed, and lent a hand to it," he said.

The animal didn't come easily at first, said Pastore.

"It was twisting and turning, paws were flying everywhere," he said. "It took a little struggle to put her back in a cage."

Molly's first meal? Nibbles of roasted pork, sardines in oil and water, Myers said. Hearty fare, but perhaps not surprising for a feline who spends her time in Myers of Keswick, a deli specializing in meat pies, clotted cream and other British food specialties.

"I'm amazed at how well she looks," Myers said. "She always was a fit cat, otherwise she wouldn't have survived 14 days in that hole."

Monday, April 10, 2006

Dog attack gone to the dogs now

It's a dog attack. The dog has your child in it's jaws and won't let it go. You make a decision and decide to ________________. Remember, this is America so you have options. You don't have to call three diferent organizations nor sign any paperwork. Read the following story about a dog attack in England recently.

His mother Sherry, 23, said: "The dog had him by the back of his head and wouldn't let go. He was throwing Nicholas around like a rag doll. There was blood everywhere. If Nicholas had not covered his face with his hands, he could have been scarred for life."

Husband Michael said: "I kicked Mitch to get him off Nicholas. Then I ran into the kitchen, grabbed a bread knife and stabbed Mitch four times with it. The dog ran round the front and Sherry hit him with a broom."

Nicholas escaped briefly by climbing on to a car in a nearby car park. But the dog pulled him back and attacked him again, blacking his eye and biting him on his legs and body.

"By this time, a neighbour had called the police and there were 13 police cars outside," said Mr Andrea.

"The police dog-handler couldn't snare Mitch. They called a vet to give him a lethal injection but the vet didn't want to know.

"That's when the police armed response vehicle turned up. They got me to sign a statement saying I approved of them shooting Mitch."

Playing politics when a killer dog attacking a child is lose is sad.

I have a friend whose small dogs were attacked by large dog that jumped into the backyard. The neighbor is the one who used his belt and got control of the large dog. My friend called 911 because she was worried that the neighbor might shoot the dog! Ahh, a bit of a soft heart there still. :)

Friday, March 31, 2006

Take a Survey! Click here!

I took a social survey sponsered by Harvard Univerity and initially thought the questions were quite provoking. It started by asking my opinion on two short proposals for a pretend charity. The first part of the survey asked this:

There are many popular misconceptions about the backgrounds of people in need of public assistance. Contrary to what many people believe, the majority of the recipients are white (38%), followed by African Americans (37 %), with the remaining composed of all other minority groups (Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans, etc.). Therefore, it is mainly minorities who are helped by this program.

1. To what extent do you think that the above statement is well-written?
2. To what extent do you agree with the passage?
3. To what extent do you think that what the passage says is true?
4. To what extent do you think you would like to work with the author of the passage?
My answers were truthful. Yes, this info was true. But no, these facts did not inspire me to work with this charity.

The next sample was more general and the questions slightly different:


Our name defines two important challenges of everyday life: family and work. Sometimes these two things are in conflict, and this is can make life difficult. We are trying to change that. By working with families and organizations alike, The Working Families Program helps children, working parents and their employers find a better balance between responsibilities at home and work. By using a real world approach with practical solutions, we are making our vision a reality.

1. To what extent do you think that the above passage is well-written?
2. To what extent do you think the announcement would be affective in garnering support for the organization?
3. To what extent do you feel that you are in agreement with the goals of the organization?
4. To what extent do you think that some of the revenue from American taxpayers should support such an organization?
The rest of the survey dealt with my opinions about why the poor are poor. It is a social survey afterall. The end of the survey made me raise an eyebrow because it asked me if I was happy to white, thought my fate was tied to other white people, and then asked me if I was ashamed or not to be white. Well, I could care less about being white and definitely don't think my teachers or other friends were nicer to me just because I am white. I realized that this must be the meat of the survey- it's a race v. povery survey. The surveyors were trying to discover if my race had anything to do with my opinions of the poor. At least that's what I thought....

The survey ended with an article they called the "Debriefing Sheet." Reading it was rather shocking. I've never found this social stance to be true! I wonder who would take care of this

In this study we explore the relationship among political attitudes. Previous research shows that white Americans are more likely to support government policies that are perceived to benefit their own racial group (e.g. affirmative action for white women, but not blacks). Previous research shows that among American whites, support for social spending for public education and health care for the poor increases when subjects are believe the target of the help will be to their own group. We are curious as to what extent African-Americans are similar in showing an in-group favoritism in this regard. The proposed research seeks to understand the psychological mechanisms underlying the racial double-standard to social policy. We are hopeful that one day, society may benefit from a greater understanding of the process and cause of group double standards. If you would like more information about the theories motivating this research, specific hypotheses being tested, and more information on the investigators, upon completion of this research information will be posted at

I feel cheated! I feel like I fell for their questions and fit their stereotypical white person. I said NO to the first program synopsis that spoke of race and helping mainly minorities but said YES to the program that would help in families in general with no mention of race. Now, I didn't say NO to the first synopsis because of race, but there are some researchers that will conclude that and I assume that this researcher will. After all, he already believes the statement that whites are mainly attracted to programs that help only whites. While he states that the main point of his research is to survey blacks and see if, as a race group, have a favoritism towards only their own race, he can easily publish the data and also state that his data backs up previous statement concerning whites.

*grumble grumble*

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Louisiana criminals give Texas 2 thumbs down

Oh, sometimes after fighting the good and long hard fight against crime, you need to a honest reporter like this one to give the public a bit of truthful laughs. The following article highlights a Louisiana criminal who named himself "B-stupid" and really, really doesn't think of Houston, Texas as the new promised land anymore.

From the Houston Chronicle:

Harris is no stranger to violent crime, police say.

Records show Harris has been arrested several times in Louisiana on charges ranging from disturbing the peace to murder. However, he was never convicted of any serious crimes.

But Texas is a brand new world to the Louisiana criminal element! Read and enjoy!

Brian Harris said Ivory Harris probably will be tried in New Orleans before hecomes back to Texas. He said Texas authorities will provide information to Louisiana prosecutors to assist during the punishment phase of his trial. Or, he said, the situation could be reversed if he is tried in Texas.

"We certainly know, according to New Orleans detectives, that Ivory Harris doesn't want to come back to Texas," Brian Harris said.

Ivory Harris and Hampton were among 16 Hurricane Katrina evacuees from New Orleans who were targeted by HPD in recent months for violence that stemmed from rival housing projects' gangs. They are accused of slayings, robberies and drug-related offenses, authorities said.

"If you look at the very beginning of all the people who were wanted, we know it's down to quite a few," Brian Harris said.

He credited that with HPD's strategy of relieving witnesses of the fear of retaliation.

"Evacuees here didn't have to fear being intimidated or killed," said Brian Harris, whose squad was formed in January to address slayings in southwest Houston.

"What happened in New Orleans is they would arrest someone and in a couple of weeks he was released. People would say why should I be a witness if I had to live in the same (housing) complex with this guy."

He said that people eventually found out that there was a different justice system in Texas and that "you really do some time in Texas jails."

Monday, March 20, 2006

Television show receives fine for indecency

I received this email recently and am quite happy at the results. What I truly wonder about is the mindset of the producers, writers, and directors who thought that this kind of action was good. Did they think this was normal in people's lives? Did they think this kind of programming was the next big thing and they were going to be the first?

The fine has been levied on the television stations and so it should be. Ultimately, they are the ones responsible for their programming. But I wonder if the television stations have reason to sue the staff of Without A Trace. It's my understanding that the producers of the show are the ones who rate their own programs for television. For the producers to tell the television stations that this show was self-rated and found to be allowable for television, shows a serious misrepresentation of their product, not just a little flub.

From an email sent by American Family Association:

You did it! FCC fines CBS $3.6 million for 'Without A Trace'

In January, 2005, we asked you to join us in filing formal complaints against CBS and their affiliate stations for broadcasting Without A Trace, complete with an extended teen-age orgy scene. Within days, 165,997 AFA on-line supporters had filed formal complaints with the FCC.

This week, the FCC announced it agrees with you and is fining 111 CBS stations 32,500 each for broadcasting this indecency. This major accomplishment happened because you took action! This is the largest fine ever against the networks and their stations.

In addition, the FCC reaffirmed a $550,000 fine against CBS for Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" at the 2004 Super Bowl.

I want to thank you for taking time to get involved. This proves we can make a difference when we join together!

Friday, February 24, 2006

TAKS Test: First Attempt

This week my oldest child took her first TAKS reading test for 3rd grade. She's had plenty of practice tests and done rather poorly on them. She keeps falling for the almost correct answer. Oh, not that I'm worried if she passed, but getting three questions wrong freaks her out.

Here's a sample of the story test she brought home this week:
Dear Sir or Madam:

I am a ten-year-old girl. I live in the Ballard neighborhood. I want to start a new P-Patch on my street. You might think someone my age can't handle a P-Patch. That's why I am working with a group of neighbors. We all have the same dream.

There are 20 neighbors in my P-Patch Planning Group. Sixteen members are adults, and four members are kids. We have taken field trips to four Seattle P-Patches and talked with the gardeners. The gardeners showed us how they work in their gardens. I've learned a lot. For example, I know how important it is to have good soil. I've even learned to use a tiller to stir up the hard dirt.

I have also learned what happens to the food grown in P-Patches. Every year, up to ten tons of food goes to needy people. I think that's neat! I would feel very good knowing that I grew food to help others. Some people on my street don't have much money. They would like to use the garden to grow food for their own families. I think that's neat, too.

My group found the best place for a P-Patch. I know P-Patch gardens should be at least 2,000 square feet. A church at the end of our block has been closed for three years. Nobody takes care of it. There are weeds all around. It's ugly and dirty and makes our neighborhood look bad. It would be nice to have a P-Patch there. The garden would look nice there, and it would be a nice place for neighbors to spend time together. There are no tall buildings around the old church, so the area gets plenty of sun. The sunflowers I want to plant there would be so happy!

Four people in my group know about organic gardens and will teach the rest of us. They will pay special attention to the kids (including me). So, we will learn how to be responsible gardeners. This kind of teamwork is a great idea!

Every person on my P-Patch Planning Group is writing a letter to you, too. I hope you will see how eager we are. We take the P-Patch program very seriously. Our neighborhood needs it!

Thank you,
Ellie Lewis.

She got the main idea question wrong:

1)Ellie wrote her letter mainly to-

X- show how much she knows about
making a garden.

correct answer was: give reasons why her group should
be allowed to start a P-Patch.

So she got pretty close there.

This question I really didn't expect
12. In which word do the letters er mean the same as in gardeners?

X- Flowers

Correct answer- Builders

It's a good question because students need to know that but I don't remember that ever being taught.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

My Fuzzy Warm Pajama Pants are Blue

Its weird reading the newspaper sometimes. You can be happy, learn new stuff, and sometimes, get your fuzzy warm pajama pants shocked off of you. Well, that's what happened to me today. It seems somebody just up and decided to RENAME MY HOME! Yup, apparently "Fondren" was too passe and they needed to "breath life" into the area. Seems the ghosts of the Fondren family failed to guard the city so officials need to have them exorcized from the area. The officials think they can make the hookers on the corner wither way from boredom by renaming the area one of the those mundane neighborhood names that corporations always think of. Soon, the hookers will grow roots where they stand and become the next generation of beautiful Oak trees that will stand out against the many other thousands of Oak trees in the city of Houston.

From the Houston Chronicle:

Officials of a management district in Fondren Southwest hope the new moniker they have recently created for the entity will help breathe life into the area.

The management district board on Jan. 31 unanimously approved "Brays Oaks" as the district's working name although "Harris County Improvement District No. 5" will continued to be used for legal purposes.

The new appellation was culled from nearly 30 suggestions that an ad hoc committee received from residents through e-mail and postal mail since November, said Elaine Gaskamp, a member of the board who chaired the committee.

The board and the committee held a town meeting on Nov. 17 to solicit a new name that would give the district a distinct identity and improve the area's image.

The committee sought a name that is timeless, ties communities together without references to any specific subdivision or neighborhood but expresses a proud sense of ownership by those who live or work in the area.

Gaskamp said many names suggested identified Brays Bayou with
references to the natural environment of the area, including the abundance of
live oaks.

And I seriously doubt that most of the area even knew that there was a name change being considered.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Bathroom Reading Publication 17

Hey, who knew that IRS Publication 17 could be so entertaining!

"If you receive a bribe, include it in your income." pg.85

"You must include kickbacks, side commissions, push money, or similar payments you recieve in your income on Form 1040, line 21, or on Schedule C or SChedule C-EZ (Form 1040), if from your self-employment activity" pg. 87

"Illegal income, such as money from dealing illegal drugs, must be included in your income on Form 1040..." pg. 87

"You cannot deduct the cost of a wristwatch, even if there is a job requirement that ou know the correct time to properly perform your duties." pg. 195

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Childhood horror stories

While playing online, my friends began discussing a whole lot of funny stories, worthing of being immortalized online forever. I've copied and published them here so that you can enjoy and laugh as hard as I did.

faerienne: when I was born on his 6th bday, my mom said happy bday, you have a baby sister, and he said take her back, I want a bike!

Josiah: When my mom was going to announce that she was pregnant with me, she told my sibs that we were getting a new addition. My brother John blurted out "a puppy?!".

The Mother Of All That Is Evil: my middle sister tried to squish my youngest sister "back to where she came from" by sitting on her
and bouncing a lot.

HarmonyGrace: My sister used to tell perfect strangers that Elvis was her dad

tivolimom: we told my little sister that mom found her in the back of an amc gremlin at the salvage yard.

tivolimom: mom wasn't happy

hamster_sandwich: my brother made me believe i was hatched once

insanelark: When I was born & the my mother told the nurse my name, she left to give my mom a chance to think about it. (I'm Jasa)

Lizita: my brothers varied between telling me I was adopted and that I was the first test tube baby.

Being thought we lived at K-Mart and would tell strangers that :/

belsonc: my siblings used to make faces at me when i was on my back in the crib, then slowly move around the crib until they were behind me, making my eyes roll back in my head...

tivolimom: my daughter used to tell perfect strangers that her daddy was at home drunk. again. funny thing? he doesn't drink.

faerienne: my brother told me I was the free one in the buy one get one, and that my parents bought our toilet and found me floating in it when it was delivered

hamster_sandwich: when my dad used to make me mad in public, i'd start yelling 'rape' as loud as i could

tivolimom is ashamed to admit that she taught tivlet the elder to yell 'whoo hoo mama' out the car window.

Lizita: my brothers also used to put clown masks on, turn out all the lights, and chase me around the house.

Lizita: I still remember shuddering in the corner and saying "clowns are nice" and my brother saying "not this clown" right before he attacked.

veranique: my kindergartner son wrote a paper for his teacher that told about our kol new year's party saying that he dressed as a sauceror and his sister was a demon ninja

Josiah admits that he taught his son, albeit unintentionally, to say "I'm going to eat that friggin' dog" one day. Long story.

faerienne: my brother held me in a chair and made me watch the exorcist when I was little, then hid under my bed and shook it, then bit my hand when I had it down beside the bed

Friday, February 10, 2006

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Fall Down, Go Boom

Wednesday the 18th of January was not quite the night I expected. Here are some things I learned:

- Rolling to a stop (from 45mph in this case) feels different when there are no wheels involved.

- Paramedics can have a sense of humor.

- Ambulances look clean from the stretcher because of the bright lights overhead, which you are forced to look at due to the collar.

- The ER doctor won't come into the room unless you are passed out, but they will still charge you for it.

- When it is time for the road grime to be scraped from your wounds, they send in the lowest paid person possible, except for the janitor maybe.

- Drugs can make the world a happy place (for a while)

- Everyone everywhere has some relative who was killed or maimed on a motorcycle, and they want you to know about it.

After clinic on the 18th I had to go out to the parking lot to move my bike. Unfortunately I failed to notice that I left the parking light on. When I came out to leave an hour and a half later, I saw my error. I decided to take the long way home once I got it to start. That way I could charge the battery up a bit.

As I pulled up to wait at a light, the railroad lights started to flash and the safety arms for the crossing came down. I decided to take a left and go the long way 'round my long way home. This new route would take me past A&M's campus.

I turned right (west) onto George Bush Dr., crossed over the railroad tracks, which had no train on it at this end, and accelerated to the posted speed limit of 45 mph. Traffic up to this point had been moderate, but all of the traffic that was moving in my direction seemed to be making the left to go to McDonald's. I was the only person continuing west on GB Dr.

There is a street which passes behind the McDonald's. It is a T-intersection without a light. A young lady pulled out from the cross street to the left, crossed over the eastbound traffic side, and got to the median where she paused for a moment. Unfortunately, her pause didn't allow her the ability to see through solid objects. I saw her pause, but only the front fender. The vehicles in the left turn lane were blocking her line of sight in my direction. She pulled out thinking that all was clear. All I saw was the back of her head. I thought she was pulling out to head west on GB Dr., but this is where I misread the situation. While I was trying to give her room on the road, she was trying to get to the right turn lane, four lanes over. She didn't look my way until I made contact with her car. The impact was just in front of her right front wheel.

The time from when I saw her front bumper to the time I made contact with her car was just over a second. If she had looked my way for a moment, this whole thing could have been avoided. If she had tapped the brakes a little bit, I could have made it around her. My swerve to the right wasn't aggressive since I thought (and I am no mind reader) she was heading my way. If I had swerved more aggressively, I would probably have been under her tires instead.

I did not understand the interactions at that intersection. I am not in that part of town very often. I didn't understand what was out there. Next to the McDonald's is a large student housing complex. The right turn lane (the lane to my right) is there to get students on campus. Do the math folks. mollo and I went out the next day and dozens of cars and trucks did the same thing this lady had done the night before.

The best response probably should have been maximum braking. Hindsight is 20/20 afterall. If I had used braking, I could have reduced the speed of the contact. I probably would have still hit her car, but the damage to me and the bike may have been reduced. As it is, we will never know.

I caught a glimpse of her face as I passed over the hood. I don't know if she had connected with the situation. I hit the ground and knew this was going to hurt. After the fourth roll I realized that I still had momentum and quite a lot of speed to scrub off. The chin of my helmet had been pushed to my chest. I tried to make sure my arms and hands were close to my body so they weren't being slapped into the ground repeatedly. I was going to bring my legs together a bit, but when I tried to pull them in, my left one hurt a lot. I just had to leave them out there and hope for the best.

When I stopped rolling, I wondered if I should be happy or upset that I had been conscious through the whole thing and still was. I came to rest against the curb, my left arm and leg over the curb as if I were spooning it. I tried to move but found it very painful. I took inventory of what I could tell was wrong before trying to roll onto my back again. My left knee was screaming at this point. I think I hit it against the car before going over the hood. Great way to start. My right leg hurt and I wanted to get off that side to try and relieve the pain.

As I finally rolled onto my back, I heard people's footsteps and chatter. I could swear there were a hundred people shouting that a man on a motorcycle had been hit. There were quickly three people standing in my field of view who had cell phones, each saying to the others that they had 911 on the phone. I was trying to take inventory again and get my left leg in a comfortable position (I am still trying to find one!)

One of the people put her phone down after a bit and squatted next to me. She was in tears, sobbing and apologetic. I couldn't help feel sorry for her. She had been through something very traumatic. I put my (injured) right hand on her knee and told her that everything would be ok. The doctors would fix me up and we would all be up and around in no time. It's going to be alright. (can you say ironic?)

A girl on my left side helped me take off my gloves, unzip my coat, and unstrap my helmet while I listened to the approaching sirens in the distance. For some strange reason I was suddenly worried about the paramedics cutting my gear off me. It has to be replaced anyway.

When they got there, the medics asked if anyone had seen the accident. I couldn't see anything but straight up in the air, but I knew at least 3 people were there. We were blocking traffic. There had to be more. Another medic started cutting and ripping my pants around my knees. He needs to work on his bedside manner. You don't say to the guy laying in the road, "You look pretty messed up here." Shouldn't it be, "It'll be ok. We'll have you patched up in no time."?

I started to relax at this point. The professionals were on the job. Good response time too. I got a collar put on and loaded in the ambulance. They grabbed the bag in the road but left the other bag strapped to the bike to be towed. That one had my homework. (One of my teachers said that was the first missing homework excuse she had heard and would accept!) Once we were underway, I called mollo with my cell phone and said, "Sorry I am so late getting home. Guess where I am. I'm in the back of an ambulance on my way to the hospital." We didn't talk long since the phone battery was nearly dead. I was just glad it still worked.

I won't bore you with the hospital stuff. I got there, x-rays, nothing broken, surprised nothing is broken, Doc gives me a pat on the head and vicodin, and says take care lucky. Bye-bye.

A cop came to see me at the hospital. He told me the bike slid 85 feet. I didn't make it that far. He didn't mention how far I went, but it looked like the bike was 10-12 meters or so past me.

Gear works. Nothing broken, 'cept my pride. Sore everywhere.

Bike's a total loss. The shop quit writing the estimate when it exceeded the original MSRP. (Why do parts cost more than the whole?)

Video of the crash area. Sorry it's sideways. Not sure how to change that. (7 Mb)

PowerPoint of the crash scene and resulting damage. Photos are not the best as we used a borrowed digital camera and aren't fully up to speed on the finer points of operation. (21 Mb)

UPDATE 27 Jan 06: I picked up the police report yesterday. Yes, she got a ticket, and she says that one of the drivers from the left turn lane waved her across. I guess that always makes it ok to proceed with your back turned to the other 3 oncoming traffic lanes.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

No more finger pointing here

Another case where people just thought of themselves and were out to get millions from some invisible big CEO who could afford it. Instead, work hours were cut and people laid off because of two greedy people. These two got what they deserved:

From the Houston Chronicle:

SAN JOSE, Calif. — A couple who planted a severed finger in a bowl of Wendy'schili in a scheme to extort money from the fast-food chain were sentenced todayto prison terms of nine years and more than 12 years.

Anna Ayala, 40, who said she bit into the digit, was sentenced to nine years in state prison. Her husband, Jaime Plascencia, 44, who obtained the finger from a co-worker who lost it in a workplace accident, was sentenced to more than 12 years. The pair pleaded guilty Sept. 9 to conspiracy to file a false insurance claim and attempted grand theft with damages exceeding $2.5 million.

Ayala said she retched March 22 after biting into the fingertip while dining with her family at a Wendy's in San Jose.

Although authorities suspected a hoax — in part because the finger was not cooked — word of the stomach-turning find quickly spread around the world. The Dublin, Ohio-based fast food chain claimed it lost $2.5 million in sales because of the bad publicity, and dozens of workers at the company's Northern California franchises were laid off.

No Wendy's employee was missing a digit at the San Jose restaurant, and no chili suppliers reported finger injuries at their plants.

In April, Ayala was arrested at her suburban Las Vegas home. Investigators found a pattern of legal claims she brought against businesses in her name or for her children.

A lengthy search for the finger's owner eventually pointed to one of Plascencia's co-workers, who lost it in an accident at the paving company where they worked, police said.

Plascencia bought the tip of Brian Rossiter's right ring finger for $100 and told him what he and Ayala were plotting, according to court documents. Rossiter later told police the couple offered him $250,000 to keep quiet.

During a recorded jailhouse phone call, Ayala bragged about how other inmates were asking for her autograph, according to a transcript of the call.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


I am in an extreme amount of pain right now.

I went to the doctor today for the the first time in years. The last time I went I had strep throat and thought I was dying. My fever was through the roof, my throat was pained, and something was wrong with my hands.

Now, four years later, I've got strep throat again. I woke up Sunday morning with an extremely pained throat. Ouch. Yesterday I had a small fever and hubby said he couldn't see any puss pockets on my throat. If he had seen them, I would have gone in immeadiately. Well, I went today and it cost a bundle. With a cash discount, they only charged me $113 for the appointment and strep test. OUCH. Then I had to go and pay about $30 for the two prescriptions.

Right now it's 7pm and I'm waiting for the doctor to call me back. I've taken every OTC painkiller available- and all at the same time. The pain-relieving gargle he gave me doesn't do anything. It can't even numb my tongue but for a few minutes. I'm in so much pain that I can't even swallow. Ice cream and Dr. Pepper are unswallowable too. When I swallow my own spit, it causes pain spasms to go through my body. At the office today I tried to tell them that I was in extreme pain. A lack of voice probably meant I failed to communicate just how bad it is. I'm sure they meant will when prescribing me a worthless gargle. Personally, I have never been in this much pain before.

I wonder if they're gonnna charge me for a phone call too?


Well, the good doctor called back and agreed to call in a painkiller for one or two night's worth of pills. Hubby is the one who talked to him on the phone since I had no voice. He did tell hubby that painkiller abuse was a problem nowadays and that was his reason for prescribing only 6 pills. I took 3 of them last night and have 3 left for tomorrow. Hopefully after tonight, the antibiotics will have started working their magic and I'll feel better overall.

The hydrocordone worked okay for about 4 hours. I would sleep and be still. But then I would cough or swallow and suddenly be wide awake and in pain again. It was like there were a couple hot spots that the medicine just couldn't reach to kill the pain. For the most part, I did feel better.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Explosion in Lab at Texas A&M

An explosion at Texas A&M in the Chemistry Building! I imagined the whole third floor of the building disappearing in a ball of flames but the old building is still standing, a bit shakier now though. Somebody's chemistry experiment exploded overnight but I get the impression from the short article that nobody even realized it until much later.

From KBTX:

Emergency crews on the scene of an explosion on the campus of Texas A&M University.

Authorities aren't sure what happened but say the explosion actually happened sometime overnight on the third floor of the Chemistry Building.

No one was present when the explosion happened and there are no reports of any injuries. Lab personnel say hydrocarbons were being distilled on a lab on the third floor. Authorities say there is "significant damage" to one of the labs inside the building.

The only danger, authorities say, is flammability - that the fumes of the chemicals could ignite a fire. They have sealed off a large area around the building. Crews from College Station and Bryan fire departments are on the scene as well as hazardous materials personnel from both fire departments and the university.

Crews say it could be a matter of hours, or days, before they have
things cleaned up.

The road beside the Chemistry Building and in between the old Geology Building has been closed for ages because it was destroyed by Mother Nature's slow destructive forces. It's quite a black mark on an otherwise beautiful and well-kept campus. I had heard a rumor years ago when the closed the road, that the school was going to wait until the Chemistry Building was re-built in a few short years. However, that was so very wrong. Instead, the University built a second, bigger Chemistry in the middle of my favorite parking lot.

Today is My Birthday!

Happy Birthday to Me!

I was:

24 years old at the time of the 9-11 attack on America
22 years old on the first day of Y2K
20 years old when Princess Diana was killed in a car crash
18 years old at the time of the Oklahoma City bombing
17 years old when O.J. Simpson was charged with murder
16 years old at the time of the 93 bombing of the World Trade Center
14 years old when Operation Desert Storm began
12 years old during the fall of the Berlin Wall
9 years old when the space shuttle Challenger exploded
7 years old when Apple introduced the Macintosh
6 years old during Sally Ride's travel in space
4 years old when Pres. Regan was shot by John Hinckley, Jr.
2 years old at the the time the Iran hostage crisis began

Monday, January 09, 2006

The Feel-Good Story of the Day

There's always heartwarming news around but it's extremely hard to find. Treat yourself today to this letter send to the Houston Chronicle from a reader:
HURRICANE Katrina resulted in many tragedies, including thousands of homeless dogs. Sometimes though, good things can result from even the worst misfortunes. One of these dogs, Zoey, a Rottweiler, was taken from a shelter to the Friends of the American Rottweiler Club in September. She was about 18 months old and had recently lost a litter of puppies through a miscarriage. Both of her eyes were severely infected, and she had wounds on her face and head. Zoey was first transported to a foster home, to be under the care of Helen Garcia, nursed back to health and then spayed. Just before Thanksgiving, she was adopted by Traci Colvin and her two children in Seguin.

On the evening of Dec. 10, Colvin's son Kendell was ill with a respiratory infection. She had spent several hours trying to get him comfortable; and, finally, at 3 a.m. he fell into a restful sleep. She was grateful to be able to crawl into bed herself.

Around 5 that morning, Zoey began barking at Colvin's bedside and would not stop, even when commanded. The mother wearily got up and, assuming Zoey needed to go outside, put the dog out. However, the dog just stood by the door and continued to bark. Colvin scolded Zoey, but finally let her back into the house. Zoey ran down the hall and continued to bark.

When Colvin went into the hallway, she found that the breaker box was smoking and a cord was smoldering. She quickly called for help and when the fire department arrived, a firefighter told her that her mobile home could have gone up in flames in a matter of minutes. Sometimes a good turn deserves a payback.

LEW OLSON Magnolia

Thursday, January 05, 2006

And they thought 'Jungle Fever' was bad...

Woman weds dolphin
Tel Aviv, Israel
December 30, 2005 - 6:34AM

British tourist Sharon Tendler has finally made her dream match - by "marrying" a dolphin she has been visiting for 15 years in the Israeli resort of Eilat, the mass-circulation Yediot Ahronot daily reported today.

Ms Tendler, 41, has been visiting the city on the Gulf of Aqaba two or three times a year to spend time with her 35-year-old underwater sweetheart.

"The peace and tranquility under water, and his love, would calm me down," the Israeli daily quoted her as saying.

Last week, Ms Tendler finally plucked up the courage to ask the dolphin's trainer for the mammal's fin in marriage.

The wedding took place on Wednesday, with the bride - wearing a white dress and watched by amazed spectators - walking down the dock to where the groom was waiting in the water.

She kissed him, to the cheers of the spectators and then, after the ceremony was sealed with some mackerels, was tossed into the water so she could swim away with her new husband.

"I'm the happiest girl on earth," the bride was quoted as saying.

"I made a dream come true. And I am not a pervert."


Don't you just love that last line? How does one respond to this?

I looked up the Gulf of Aqaba since I didn't remember it right off and had to wonder how this sort of thing could occur uncontested in that region of the world.

I am sure we are all wondering the same thing. Does she get tax benefits now?

Charity "Poker Runs" not Charity?

Charity 'poker runs' will have to fold Attorney general rules motorcycle clubs'events are illegal gambling

By R.G. RATCLIFFE Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau

AUSTIN - Motorcycle clubs that stage "poker runs" for charity will find 2006 less bountiful because Attorney General Greg Abbott ruled Tuesday that such fundraisers amount to illegal gambling under Texas law.

Poker runs typically have a participant paying a registration fee or have the motorcycle rider purchase cards or hands at various rally points. At the end of the run, a cash prize is usually awarded for the best hand, the second-best hand and the worst hand.

Abbott ruled that a poker run with cash prizes would amount to a lottery under state law. He said an organization that kept part of the proceeds for charity would violate the state's prohibition on gambling.

"Even if the contribution goes to a charitable cause and the nonprofit organization will pay prizes from other money, a participant pays money for the chance to win a prize," Abbott said. "Thus we conclude ... the nonprofit organization would become a custodian of a bet in violation (of the state Penal Code)."

Ok, here is one of my problems with this ruling. If gambling and lottery are so inherently wrong that they should not be used to help raise financial assistance for those in need, then how is it the state can justify helping itself to even more money, with it's lottery, for no specific reason? The state should not be above the law.

The law basically seeks to prohibit any situation that involves three elements: paying to get in on the fun, a chance to win, and a prize given to those lucky enough to "win."

From Texas Penal Code, Chapter 47, Gambling

(7) "Lottery" means any scheme or procedure whereby one or more prizes are distributed by chance among persons who have paid or promised consideration for a chance to win anything of value, whether such scheme or procedure is called a pool, lottery, raffle, gift, gift enterprise, sale, policy game, or some other name.

Raffles are included in the prohibition. How many schools, churches, and other such groups hold raffles?

Cake Walks could be interpreted as games of chance and be declared illegal.

An acquaintance won a donated motorcycle in a raffle held to raise money for Ride for Kids in support of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation.

The bed I sleep on every night was won in a raffle my National Guard unit held a few years ago as a fundraiser for the Family Support Group*. A mattress company was among many local business who donated item for this particular raffle. Are we all to be branded conspiring villains and thrown to the lions?
*The FSG program is organized to aid the spouses of soldiers while they are deployed.

The ruling will broadly affect motorcycle organizations across Texas. At least seven have posted poker runs on the Internet through March. Charitable poker runs in the past year have been hosted by motorcycle clubs as well as police and fire epartments around the state.

The poker run that prompted Abbott's opinion was organized by the Blue Knights Texas XXXI chapter to raise money for Galveston County Deputy Sheriff Michel Roy, who was injured in April when his squad car collided with a drunken driver's vehicle.

The Blue Knights is a motorcycle club consisting of active and retired police officers.

The club's advertised run said riders could buy hands for $10 each with no limit on the number of hands that could be purchased. At the end of the run, prizes would consist of $700 for the best hand, $200 for the second-best hand and $100 for the worst hand.

Event drew complaint

Galveston County Criminal District Attorney Kurt Sistrunk said he received a citizen complaint on the poker run the day before it occurred. He said he called Blue Knights officers and asked them to call the event off.

Ok, here is where it gets a bit interesting. The event drew complaint from a concerned citizen. Remember, this is an organization of active and retired POLICE OFFICERS. Probably the least offensive group to hold an event, right? Who would want to destroy an opportunity for police officers to aid one of their fallen or wounded brothers? I'd be willing to bet it wasn't a citizen complaining that someone would go home with a few more dollars in their pockets.

I'll tell you that from personal experience there is no ulterior motive for a poker run. They are fundraisers that are fun. People come out, pay for their hand(s), and, win or lose, go home happy to have been a part of something bigger than themselves.

I have no first hand account of the events, so here again is more from me ;-)

Here's reason #1 why the complaint came in. We all know the stereotype. Big, black leather clad, tattooed brutes, thundering in and around on bikes with open exhaust systems, with scantily clad females onboard and shouting, "Show us your t*ts!"

And reason #2: Many poker run stations are at bars or other alcohol serving locations. Often in the advertising of "biker" events is the inclusion of a list of which beers will be represented at said event. (You know where I am going with this now don't you?) Mixing alcohol with riding (or driving) is a bad. Period. Police are no exception to temptation when it comes. Police are real people too. Unfortunately it isn't uncommon to have alcohol related incidences at events of this kind.

"There was no getting around it, in my estimation, they would be violating the law if they pursued that event," Sistrunk said.
Poor planning of poker runs, and by that I mean inclusion of alcohol, and fear of a stereotype has drawn the attention of the rather hypocritical "Selective Enforcement Squad." This is what they wanted to prohibit. Let's call a spade a spade and quit dancing around why this came up at all.

Blue Knights chapter President D.J. Alvarez said after that call, the club continued with the poker run, but canceled the cash prizes.

Alvarez said only three or four riders backed out of the Blue Knights run that weekend, but he said Abbott's ruling will have a serious impact on charitable poker runs across Texas.

Ok, how many of us want to look like cheap heels in front of our friends? Only four quit because the rest didn't want to lose face. But you better believe that in the future folks won't be quite as hasty to get signed up for this.

"You have poker runs every weekend," said Alvarez, a lieutenant in the Galveston Police Department. "They're all for cancer organizations, charitable organizations."

He said they are especially useful in raising money for injured police or firefighters.

"Where in a matter of three hours can you raise $5,000?" Alvarez said.

'We can get around it'

While Abbott's ruling specifically addressed the Blue Knights' poker run, Sistrunk said he reads it to outlaw all such fund-raising activities by nonprofit groups.

The state doesn't want competition, eh? If you are going to lose your money in the pursuit of a prize, you have to do it at the state's game. Isn't that called a monopoly? Oh wait, they are the government and are smarter than us. They know what is best for us. Right.

"They're going to have to come up with a different way of collecting money," Sistrunk said.

One of the biggest poker runs in the Houston area is sponsored by Competition Motorcycles of Pearland.

Owner Jesse McCulley said his run is meant to promote motorcycling, with all the money being paid out in prizes. He said he understands that makes it legal because no one benefits but the riders who participate.

Here's some backwards thinking. McCulley thinks it's ok if all the money is used in supplying prizes. Unless everyone gets a prize, it is illegal. If there is a chance I may or may not win a prize, it is illegal according to the state penal code.

McCulley said Abbott's ruling will negatively affect charity events if there are no cash prizes for poker runs.

"Some people are going to come out of the kindness of their heart," he said. "But let's face it, if you cut out that little piece of cheese at the end of the trail, participation is going to decline."

Sputnik, chairman of the Texas Motorcycle Rights Association, who does not use a last name, said he does not believe Abbott's ruling marks the end of poker runs.

"We can get around it," Sputnik said. "We can give trophies, and we can give cash money on the side."

I have had the pleasure of speaking with Sputnik on a couple of occasions. If you were to see him, he fits the stereotype of a biker. To speak with him would surprise many. He is a sharp fellow and is very open minded, but not to the point of his brain falling out. I wouldn't doubt his character, but I don't understand how paying money on the side would be different than paying money to the winner. Wouldn't they be paying the same person for achieving the same goal?

Either way, I am sorry to see poker runs get squashed instead of re-organized. The Blue Knights are a great group and an example of riders trying to help out. I wish them the best of luck in finding differnt ways to bring aid to those in need.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Wow, I just found out that a friend of mine, Julie, is running for judge! She's an awesome lawyer, organized, hard working, and quite fair in her opinions. She's one of those people who has a magic touch with all people, able to easily make friends and understand other's problems.

From The Eagle:

The final day to get on the 2006 ballot was marked Monday by a flurry of last-minute filings in Brazos County as nine Republicans and one Democrat announced their candidacy for various posts held by incumbents.

Among the dozens of seats up for grabs is the 85th District Court judgeship, which garnered the most attention Monday as incumbent Judge J.D. Langley - a Republican seeking a fifth term on the bench - found himself with opposition from two local lawyers.

Republican lawyers David Barron and Julie May Young both filed Monday for the job. The three will compete for the post in the March 7 primary.

I wish Julie the best of luck! I wonder how I'll be able to help her.


And here's some more news concerning the upcoming elections in Texas, but not in my area. This is one heck of a way to start your divorce off. I would definitely say that this battle could turn a wee bit ugly.

From the Houston Chronicle:

PHARR — The wife of a state representative filed Monday to run against her husband in a South Texas race that both candidates said coincides with an impending divorce.

Democratic state Rep. Armando "Mando" Martinez, an incumbent from Weslaco, faces a primary challenge from his wife, Jessica Reyes-Martinez. The District 39 seat covers part of Hidalgo County.

Reyes-Martinez, 28, filed as a candidate in the March 7 primary only 30 minutes before the Monday deadline, The Monitor reported in its Tuesday edition. She's making her first bid for public office and is now a homemaker.

First Kiss

It was the summer between 1st and 2nd grade. Another hot Houston summer bearing down on the vehicles and our playground. Only the brave ventured onto the swings afternoon. The seats were burning hot and roasted your legs quickly into a bright red mass. The most prized toy in the afternoon was a swing seat that somebody else had just gotten off of.

His name was Peter and his birthday was exactly the day before mine. We were also the smallest kids of the "big kids" group. This gave us a distinct advantage during the hoop hop game. The daycare workers would slowly raise the hula hoop higher and higher; the winner was the one that could jump through the hoop at it's highest level. I always took second. Peter always took first place.

The playground was extremely large and even had a shady duck pond to play by. That day my best friend and I decided to get away from everybody else and wandered over pond. We sat cross-legged in the dust facing each other just talking about whatever is exciting in a second grader's life. It was then when I received my first kiss. We just leaned forward and -peck- it was over. But the shrill voice of one the daycare workers calling our names ruined whatever conversation might have continued.

It was quite a walk to the bench where the ladies in charge were hiding from the sun. I really hated to be in trouble and didn't quite know if I had really done something bad. I hated to stand out. It was extremely uncomfortable facing them.

"Do you want each other's phone number?", said the lady. I recall my brain going quite blank at this question. Wasn't I in trouble? The ladies sure thought it a good idea so said sure and we switched phone numbers.

As a kid, I had no use for the phone but I did call him just once. The conversation was about 10 minutes long- and extremely boring. My summer romance had faded. Now it lives on only in this post and a funny story that some now gray-haired ladies probably tell over coffee.