Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Monster Mash


*snicker* Welcome to MY world!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Wrapping up the week


An interesting piece of news coming out of the notoriously anti-gay state, Virginia, indicates that polls show that, even though the majority of voters support a ban on same-sex marriages, it is not by a wide margin at all, as previously thought. Only 52 percent of voters surveyed said they support the amendment. While that may prove to have little comfort value for the GLBT community living in Virginia if the amendment passes, I think it clearly shows them that they're not completely alone in that state.

Of course, if the ballot measure had been written to exclude same-sex marriage ONLY, I suspect it would pass by a landslide. However, the framers of the measure were short-sighted enough to believe that a measure that would ban partnerships of any kind between non-married people, regardless of gender mixes, would pass.

I have long said that ballot measure votes should not be passed by a simple majority because in many areas of the country, the majority is often defined by people who belong to a specific group, whether it be race, religion, or something else.

For example, let's say that 51% of the people that live in Utah are Mormon and the remaining 49% are not. (I'm just using random numbers here, so don't get all cranked about it, okay?). They're given a ballot measure to make Mormonism the state religion and, in so doing, all government will be run according to Mormon beliefs.

If all of the Mormons vote for the measure, based on their religious beliefs, then the minority has no chance at all even though they may have all voted against the measure.

Ballot measures should pass only by a 2/3 majority or a margin percentage or some other measuring stick, not unlike the way the Senate votes. The democratic process is flawed in the simple "majority rules" concept. It's not democratic, it's the majority oppressing the minority in some instances. This is why it's important to have larger gaps dictate the passage or failure of these sorts of ballot measures.

If this sort of system was in place, I would wager that Virginia would see this measure defeated and some of the states that have already passed amendments to their constitution would not have been able to do so.


In our sue-happy or I-can-get-some-big-money-out-of-this society, I can only shake my head as I read this article about a woman who went to a Kansas City Royals game and was struck by a foul ball and now wants the team to pay her medical bills. To me, this is the same mentality as that which was displayed by the two men a few years back who decided to use a lawn mower to trim shrubs. They rigged the safety mechanism so the mower wouldn't stop when they let go of it and they both picked the running lawnmower up by the deck, and lost their fingertips. They sued the manufacturer of the lawnmower, alleging that nothing in the equipment's instructions told them not to pick it up that way. When you go to a baseball game, and sit up front near the third base line, you have to expect foul balls and exercise a certain amount of awareness of your surroundings. I might be silly but I honestly think that personal safety is an individual responsibility first. I'm not saying that she didn't protect herself, not at all. But I am saying that, by buying the ticket and sitting in the seat, you assume a certain level of risk and, as long as the team isn't negligent, it just sucks to be you if you're hit by a stray ball.


I could make MYSELF gag with this! LOL!


You Are Not Scary

Everyone loves you. Isn't that sweet?



Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

This is gonna be a long one...

OK, so, the ruling is out in New Jersey, to mixed reviews.

The good news is that the New Jersey Supreme Court backs equal rights for same-sex couples.

The bad news is that they "punted" the issue to the State Legislature with the understanding that any new law will be reviewed so ensure that it does not "run afoul of the Constitution." They have ordered the Legislature to write and enact law, within 180 days that will either allow same-sex couples to marry, or enter into a Civil Union.

I read through all 90 pages of the ruling yesterday afternoon, with my yellow highlighter in hand. What follows is some excerpts that I was particularly struck by, either in their insight, or lack of sight -- with, of course, my own editorializing in red. I'm just going to jump right in...

"In defending the constitutionality of its marriage laws, the State submits that same-sex marriage has no historical roots in the traditions or collective conscience of the people of New Jersey to give it the ranking of a fundamental right, and that limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples is a rational exercise of social policy by the Legislature." Have you ever run into those sorts of people at work who do things the hard way and justify it by "it's always been done that way?" This is a similar argument. To say "it's always been this way" is not to justify denying marriage to same-sex couples, it's a cop-out and weak, at best.

"Indeed, the State not only recognizes the right of gay and lesbian parents to raise their own children, but also places foster children in same-sex parent homes through the Division of Youth and Family Services." At least the state didn't argue that same-sex relationships are bad for children.

"The State rests its case on age-old traditions, beliefs, and laws, which have defined the essential nature of marriage to be the union of a man and a woman." It's always been that way...

"In Romer v Evans, Colorado passed an amendment to its constitution that prohibited all legislative, executive, or judicial action designed to afford homosexuals protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation. The Supreme Court declared that Colorado's constitutional provision violated the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause because it 'impos[ed] a broad and undifferentiated disability on a single named group' and appeared to be motivated by an 'animus toward' gays and lesbians. The Court concluded that a state could not make 'a class of persons a stranger to its laws.'" It would seem to me that this ruling would also apply to all of the state constitutional amendments that have been passed in the last couple of years that prohibit same-sex couples from marrying or even having their relationships recognized through civil unions. No wonder the Supreme Court keeps dodging this issue...

"Under the guise of newly found rights, we must be careful not to impose our personal value system on eight-and-one-half million people, thus bypassing the democratic process as the primary means of effecting social change in this State." OK, there's a part of me that understands where this type of mindset comes from (as it is seen throughout the country). "Let the people decide" has been the refrain we've heard since this issue first blew open two years ago. Where this sort of logic fails is in the fact that, by letting the people decide through the democratic process, we lose touch with the reality of the majority oppressing the minority. Had Loving v Virginia been ruled "let the people decide," it's entirely possible that interracial marriages would not be legal today. Laws of equality have always, historically, come from the courts and not the voting booths because of the ability of the majority to oppress the minority through the democratic process of voting. It's a double edged sword.

The court quotes two rulings: "...the more personal the right, the greater the public need must be to justify governmental interference with the exercise of that right," and "Unless the public need justifies statutorily limiting the exercise of a claimed right, the State's action is deemed arbitrary." I think this addresses the heart of the issue. No state or government has yet to provide any reasonable or logical argument for how the public good is served by denying marriage to same-sex couples.

"We next examine the extent to which New Jersey's laws continue to restrict committed same-sex couples from enjoying the full benefits and privileges available through marriage. Although under the Domestic Partnership Act same-sex couples are provided with a number of important rights, they still are denied many benefits and privileges accorded to their similarly situated heterosexual counterparts. Thus the act has failed to bridge the inequality gap between committed same-sex couples and married opposite-sex couples." Domestic Partnership laws only render lip service to equality, and these judges not only saw that, but pointed it out for the Legislature to see. What they failed to see beyond this is that Civil Unions are not a whole lot different than Domestic Partner laws. Separate but equal just doesn't cut it.

"Last, even though they are provided fewer benefits and rights, same-sex couples are subject to more stringent requirements to enter into a domestic partnership than opposite-sex couples entering into marriage." Honestly, I never thought about that but it's absolutely true. When I enrolled Lisa in my benefit plan here at work, I had to provide proof that we were financially interdependent on each other, that we resided together, and had been together for more than a year. Our marriage license was not on the list of accepted documents of proof.

"The Legislature has recognized that the 'rights and benefits' provided in the Domestic Partnership Act are directly related 'to any reasonable conception of basic human dignity and autonomy.' It is difficult to understand how withholding the remaining 'rights and benefits' from committed same-sex couples is compatible with a 'reasonable conception of basic human dignity and autonomy.' There is no rational basis for, on the one hand, giving gays and lesbians full civil rights in their status as individuals, and, on the other, giving them an incomplete set of rights when they follow the inclination of their sexual orientation and enter into committed same-sex relationships." Emphasis my own.

"There is something distinctly unfair about the State recognizing the right of same-sex couples to raise natural and adopted children and placing foster children with those couples, and yet denying those children the financial and social benefits and privileges available to children in heterosexual households." And this practice just slays me. Statistically, same-sex households take into foster care and/or adopt more special needs children than their heterosexual counterparts, and often their medical expenses are paid out-of-pocket because the state's benefits are inadequate. The States are more than happy to dump these "high maintenance" kids off wherever they can yet they fall short of providing the kinds of benefits to the families they dump them off with that they give to those families that can't be bothered with these special children.

"The equal protection requirement of Article I, Paragraph 1 leaves the Legislature with two apparent options. The Legislature could simply amend the marriage statutes to include same-sex couples, or it could create a separate statutory structure, such as a civil union, as Connecticut and Vermont have done." "Plaintiffs argue that even equal social and financial benefits would not make them whole unless they are allowed to call their committed relationships by the name of marriage. They maintain that a parallel legal structure, called by a name other than marriage, which provides the social and financial benefits they have sought, would be a separate-but-equal classification that offends Article I, Paragraph 1. From plaintiffs' standpoint, the title of marriage is an intangible right, without which they are consigned to second-class citizenship. Plaintiffs seek not just legal standing, but also social acceptance, which in their view is the last step toward true equality. Conversely the State asserts that it has a substantial interest in preserving the historically and almost universally accepted definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman. For the State, if the age-old definition of marriage is to be discarded, such change must come from the crucible of the democratic process." "Raised here is the perplexing question -- "What's in a name?" -- and is a name itself of constitutional magnitude after the State is required to provide full statutory rights and benefits to same sex couples? We are mindful that in the cultural clash over same-sex marriage, the word marriage itself -- independent of the rights and benefits of marriage -- has an evocative and important meaning to both parties. Under our equal protection jurisprudence, however, plaintiffs' claimed right to the name of marriage is surely not the same now that equal rights and benefits must be conferred on committed same-sex couples.

Addressing this very question -- what's in a name -- and writing for the dissenting opinions, Chief Justice Poritz writes "In their presentation to the court, they speak of the deep and symbolic significance to them of the institution of marriage. They ask to participate, not simply in the tangible benefits that marriage provides -- although certainly those benefits are of enormous importance -- but in the intangible benefits that flow from being civilly married. Chief Justice Marshall, writing for the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, has conveyed some sense of what it means:

Marriage also bestows enormous private and social advantages on those who choose to marry. Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family. 'It is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects.' Because it fulfills yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life's momentous acts of self-definition.

Chief JusticePoritz very eloquently concludes "When we say that the Legislature cannot deny the tangible benefits of marriage to same-sex couples, but then suggest that 'a separate statutory scheme, which uses a title other than marriage' is presumptively constitutional...we demean plaintiffs' claim. What we 'name' things matters, language matters."

Language DOES matter. A marital status of "Civil Union" as opposed to "Married" automatically flags the private relationship for anyone in the world to see. It establishes a label that separates us from our heterosexual counterparts in much the same way that "African American" separates people of color from their Caucasian counterparts. Aren't we ALL Americans? What is "African" about a person of color who is a tenth generation American? Why would "African Americans" embrace a label that sets them apart from other Americans? Why would same-sex committed couples embrace civil unions that only set them apart from their heterosexual counterparts? Chief Justice Poritz concludes "By excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage, the state declares that it is legitimate to differentiate between their commitments and the commitments of heterosexual couples. Ultimately, the message is that what same-sex couples have is not as important or significant as 'real' marriage, that such lesser relationships cannot have the name of marriage." Amen.

In the Loving v Virginia case, Poritz points out, Justice Kennedy explained "...times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress." Poritz concludes "Without analysis, our Court turns to history and tradition and finds that marriage has never been available to same-sex couples. That may be so -- but the Court has not asked whether the limitation in our marriage laws, 'once thought necessary and proper in face serve[s] only to oppress.'

On the surface, the ruling is a victory for same-sex couples, but only insofar as tangible benefits of marriage equality are concerned. The court seems to have turned a disinterested eye away from the intangible benefits of civil marriage. And with that disregard, it would seem that they have only rendered lip service to true equality.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Bouncing back


For as crappy as I felt yesterday, I feel pretty darned good today. I took two short naps yesterday, hunkered down, watched re-runs of Judging Amy, caught up on the stuff that's been sitting on the DVR waiting to be watched, sucked down a whole big bottle of white grape juice, and sat with my feet up knitting. Idgie stuck with me the entire day, very happy that someone was home with her. She stretched and curled and yawned and repositioned herself a lot, but pretty much didn't leave my side.

I tend to use children's Benadryl FastMelts for any sinus conditions because it works fast and I don't get revved up on it like I do most antihistamines. I used my Nasocourt nasal spray and that really blasted up the congestion in my nose and sinuses. I slept very well last night and woke up this morning feeling much better. So much so, I decided I could work.

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We had an incident here locally where a woman refused to pull over for police after running a red light and, after a 5 mile chase, crashed. It was later learned that she had an 11-month old baby in the back seat. Of course, the police are taking a lot of heat because the baby was in the vehicle (minor scrapes in the crash) but nobody in the media seems to want to hold the stupid mother accountable for the crash. The stupid mother who was driving under the influence of drugs.

I get so sick of the criticism of law enforcement in this type of situation. The woman ran a red light and, while she didn't hit anyone, she could very well have killed someone doing so. Or been struck and killed herself, along with her baby. They're damned if they do and damned if they don't, I guess.

………………………………

The nation is waiting with baited breath to see what New Jersey's highest court is going to do about same-sex marriages.

If they rule that same-sex couples can marry, we're likely to drive to New Jersey and tie it up legally there. That would give us a Vermont Civil Union, Canadian marriage, and a US marriage. More ammunition with which to fight the battle. And we'll continue to do just that.

Keeping our fingers crossed.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Code id by doze

I hab a code id by doze and I can't dalk dorbal.

The good news is that this is the first full-blown cold I've had since I quit smoking 8 years ago. Over the past eight years I've had a few instances of some mild congestion and light sniffles, but I've fought them off within a day and not gotten sick. No such luck this time. But hey, once every eight years isn't so tough, right?

The bad news is that this has hit me from every direction. Bleeding sinuses, painful pressure in my ears, headache, nose running so bad I can't keep up with it (and the requisite raw, red spot under the nose), even my teeth and jaw hurt.

Yeah, I'm staying home today. *sniffle*

We went to the Home Depot's Ladies' Night last night. They were completely unprepared when we got there but threw something together anyway. Lisa and I were pretty bored, as they did some very basic stuff -- we wanted POWER TOOLS!

So one of their female employees was standing behind me and I said to her "Enough of this grade school crap, I want power tools!" It turned out that this woman worked in Hardware -- that is, where the tools are. She said "I'll be right back" and in a few minutes brought back the coolest little palm-sized cordless screwdriver. It comes with a 34 piece bit set and you can either get it in a storage tin (like you get with Christmas cookies) or a cary case. Here's the cool part -- it will hold a charge for up to EIGHTEEN MONTHS!

Now, I don't know about you but it seems like every single time I want to use the cordless screwdriver, it needs a charge.

Oh, another cool tool we saw as we were wandering around was this adjustable wrench made by Black and Decker. There's a "slide" mechanism on the side where you push either up or down and it automatically adjusts the size of the wrench ONTO THE BOLT! Too cool! How many times have you had to stop, adjust your wrench, try it, adjust it more, etc. before you can do the job?

I'm thinking that Lisa and I both need this tool in our tool bags for our business. The palm-sized cordless is something that I'd love to have in the house. So, while we didn't learn anything from the "Y" chromosomes, we still had a good demonstration, however spur-of-the-moment it might have been, of some useful tools. This woman also asked for one of our business cards -- says she knows folks who could use some of our services.


I have this little munchkin curled up on my lap, begging for me to cuddle with her, so I guess I'm headed for the couch for the day.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Just for Jenn!

These are for a blogging buddy, Jenn.

Jenn, I thought of you immediately! LOL!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Friday, October 20, 2006

Friday around the web

I decided some time ago to end my Marriage Equality blog. There's so much in the news these days about the GLBT community that it would be a never ending blogfest. From time to time, I'll likely post important news articles or commentary but, for the most part, the blog is defunct. Yet, I found this in the comments this morning. Methinks someone really, really, REALLY needs to put down their crack pipe...

☻☻☻☻☻☻☻☻☻☻☻☻☻

A friend of mine who manages a group I belong to sent this along this morning. It's touching, and struck home. I've worried a lot lately about age, getting older, and the future. Give it a minute and check it out.

☻☻☻☻☻☻☻☻☻☻☻☻☻

Is this a good thing or a bad thing? And how does someone on death row have access to sharp metal objects?

☻☻☻☻☻☻☻☻☻☻☻☻☻

And finally, a meme stolen from sassy's blog:

1. Dated outside your race?
Hell, I married outside my race. Sort of. I mean, my XH was Hispanic.

2. Singing in the shower?
Yeah, sometimes. When I'm awake enough to function in the morning. But if I/we shower at night, I serenade my sweetie.

3. Spit in someone’s drink?
BLECH! NO!

4. Played with Barbies?
I hated Barbie, even when I was little. And I hated her sister "Pepper" too. I loved my Thumbelina, however. And, for the record? How do you think Barbie got all those houses and cars and stuff? I think Ken's been pimping her out. And, she needs to get an effin' job.

5. Made someone cry?
On purpose? No. Unintentionally? Yes.

6. Opened your Christmas presents early?
How early is early? The night before? Sure, from time to time. Before Christmas Eve? Not that I can remember.

7. Lied to a friend?
I'm ashamed to say that I have.

8. Watched and cried while watching a soap opera?
Yes. When Mary Ryan died, and through all of Rick and Leslie's trials and tribulations. And the whole Luke and Laura thing.

9. Played a computer game for more than 5 hours?
For the longest time, the biggest kid in the house was me. I've played all of the Tomb Raider games, as well as Tiger Woods PGA and can easily spend hours doing so, if I'm on a "lay low" day.

10. Ran through the sprinklers naked?
Nope.

11. Ate food that fell on the floor?
Five second rule...

12. Went outside naked?
Naked? No. Partially? Yes. There was that topless sunbathing incident where a cop showed up at my door. Turns out the battery in my cordless phone was depleted and the stupid thing got ahold of 9-1-1 and, because they got a hangup, they dispatched an officer to ensure there wasn't anything wrong. I got beet red that day, but not from sunbathing...

13. Been on stage?
Yes -- I used to model flower girl dresses when I was 4 or 5, and I was in Concert Choir in high school. There was also the senior play.

14. Been on stage naked or close to it?
Nope. Never been in a comedy show.

15. Been in a parade?
Are you kidding? The military is a parade-fest!

16. Been in a school play?
Yes. The Defiance of David Charles. Our senior play. I played the role of Gladys Swanson.

17. Drank beer?
Hasn't every man woman, child and dog?

18. Gotten detention?
Detention? No. Kicked out of class a few times? Yep.

19. Been on a cruise?
Never.

20. Broken into a house?
Yes, my own.

21. Gotten a tattoo?
No, and I have no desire.

22. Gotten piercings?
Just the ears. Twice.

23. Gotten into a fist fight?
Yep. Patty Rice called me out after school one day. And, of course, with my brother.

24. Gotten into a shouting match?
Yes, but I take Prozac for that now.

25. Swallowed sea/pool water?
Spent three days peeing out Pacific Ocean water each time we went boogeyboarding in Hawaii.

26. Spun yourself in circles to get dizzy on purpose?
Yeah, when I was a kid and didn't yak so easily.

27. Laughed so hard it hurt?
Frequently.

28. Tripped on your own feet?
Playing volleyball, I tripped over my own feet and ended up wrecking my knee because of the way I landed. Lisa often tells people that I trip over the seams in tile floors, blades of grass in the lawn, and the pile on carpets.

29. Cried yourself to sleep?
More times than I could count.

30. Cried in public?
Yes.

31. Thrown up in public?
Does puking in a bag on a plane with the guy across the aisle watching count?

32. Lied to your parents?
Isn't that a rite of passage?

33. Skipped class?
I hooked most of my senior year. I'm still amazed that I graduated.

34. Cried so hard you threw up?
Yeah -- I used to have really bad nightmares that got me to the point where I gagged and retched a lot. When a relationship ended a few years back, I cried to the point of vomiting as well.

35. Had a one night stand?
Yes -- not too proud of that.

36. Left restaurant without paying tab?
Never

37. Been Fired from a job?
Technically? No. I left a job about 15 years ago "under duress."

38. Wanted to make out with your massage therapist, therapist OR hairdresser?
No, never gave it any thought at all.

39. Had a drink "sent" to a stranger at a bar?
I was never that forward in my drinking days.

40. Been winked at and loved it?
Constantly!

☻☻☻☻☻☻☻☻☻☻☻☻☻

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

New Tread on Me

My RAV4 had been making this thumpa-thumpa-thumpa noise and, with each thumpa, I felt it. Road noise was pretty loud and I had to destroy what little hearing I had left to turn up the radio to hear it over the road noise. Had new tires put on yesterday, all around, and oooooohhhh what a smoooooooth ride! I'm a person of very simple pleasures and I couldn't help but call Lisa TWICE on the 10 minute ride from the dealership to the Home Depot and just say "YAYYY!" Of course, she laughed and called me a dork.

We went to the Home Depot and spent nearly $150 on mouldings to finish off the entryway, living room/dining "L" and kitchen that we've rennovated so far. After we got home and I was doing the books for our business, I felt Lisa come up behind my chair and heard her whisper "Did you still want to crawl into the cabinets with me at the Home Depot?"

Clearly I'm getting old because my first response was "No, I'd have needed EMT's to get me out of them!"

I got a picture message from Michelle yesterday that she sent via her phone. This is Cherlyn yesterday, not quite two weeks after her accident. She's looking amazingly good already! It's so nice to see her little eyes full of that sparkle and good humor. She's got quite an intelligent wit for a 5 year old, and those eyes are always so expressive. She's an amazing little girl.

Lisa has been doing some networking and has found some companies with some excellent home products that we are interested in carrying. One such product is a three-sensor alarm system that is hooked up to the sump pump and an electrical source (outlet). If the sump pump overflows, the heat goes out and/or a freezing temperatures is sensed, or if the power goes out, it sounds an alarm AND will automatically call up to three phone numbers that you program into it. Around here, that's huge because power goes out a lot during the cold weather and, since we constantly have snow thawing, losing the sump pump can be a huge economic disaster (especially since outside water isn't covered on our homeowner's insurance). So, if we're at work and the power goes out and the sump pump crock begins to overflow, we'd get a phone call from the system telling us that there's a problem at the house. I think it's a good idea!


Lisa had become so disenchanted with her job that she's thinking about asking my foster sister if her husband needs another hand on his dairy farm. Lisa was raised on a dairy farm and doesn't mind the work at all. Between you and me (a city girl through and through), I couldn't stand her coming home reeking of cow shit every day like Jim does. But, I've also always encouraged her to do what makes her happy, not what makes good money. To me, there's a profound difference between the two. No amount of money earned is worth being unhappy at your job because, whether you believe it or not, it spills over into the home. I'll support whatever she decides.

In the meantime, the web store host, who brags that they're never down, is down today and, as such, we can do no business in our store.

Wouldn't it just fiture...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

ROWWWWR!

Had a busy day today and am only still at work waiting for Lisa to pick me up so I can get my RAV4. It was in for inspection and I had to get new tires. Got a pretty decent promotion with buy 3, get one for $1. And I needed tires BADLY! All things considered I got 4 new tires, a NYS inspection ($20 these days), a new engine oil filter, front end alignment and an oil change for just under $600.

While we're at the Toyota dealership we're going to look into leasing a Hybrid Highlander for Lisa. With stop and go traffic on the expressway and the distance that she drives to work each day, we feel strongly that a Hybrid vehicle is almost a necessity.

After that, it's foreplay.

Yep, you guessed it. We're going to the Home Depot.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

10/17/2006 *Updated*

First off, take some unsolicited advice. DON'T SWITCH OVER TO THE BETA VERSION OF BLOGGER! It has been nothing but an ass-ache for me and I'm furious with it. Why? Primarily because I blog all day long. That is, I write some, do some work, write some more, do some more work, etc. and then I publish the day's work. Friday I had a nice, long entry ready to publish with an update about my granddaughter, the snow we had Friday, and other stuff. I hit the "Publish" button, and was brought to the login screen. Everything I'd spent the entire day posting was gone. *Poof* There have been other little problems with it as well. Anyway, don't switch over until they get the numerous bugs worked out! This has been a public service announcement.

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Michelle called yesterday after Cher's follow-up appointment with the maxillofacial doctor. They took the splints out of her nose and she'll likely get the external splint removed Friday. She can return to school today.

Michelle is unfamiliar with the area, as she lives about 90 miles south of us but they sent Cher up here because of the Golisano Children's Hospital and the other specialists that the little munchkin had to see. Anyway, as Michelle got off the expressway, she got disoriented and had difficulty finding the hospital. From the back seat she heard "If Gramma was here we wouldn't be lost." He he he. Smart kid.

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We finally got through the muck and mire of beaurocracy and will have our online store open later this evening or early tomorrow morning. Along with that will be a new blog with articles and information related to gardening and anything else we happen to get into with our business. We're doing some routine contract work, fixing broken windows, designing gardens, light electrical repair, plumbing, and other home improvement projects. We're already working on our first job which has presented some fun challengs for us, and produced squeals of delight from the lady of the house. She's thrilled that things are getting done!

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Joe got a speeding ticket over the weekend. What's bad is that about two months ago, he got two speeding tickets in two weeks. This will make his third one in a year and, under New York State law, his license is to be revoked. He'll be working with our attorney to see if there are any plea deals to be made so that he can keep his license. He's furious with himself but also feels strongly that his vanity plates are "cop magnets." I've heard other people complain of the same thing. Joe's plates say "JOEDIRTE."

He's been pretty stressed lately, burning his candle at multiple ends. He goes to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 until 1:00 and then spends the rest of the day on his reading assignments. He's taking 3 literature courses and has tons of reading to do. On Mondays and Wednesdays he works from noon until 8:00 PM at the garden center, as well as on Saturdays and Sundays from 7:30 to 5:00. On Friday and Saturday nights he tends bar from 6:00 until around 1:00. When he's not working or going to school, his girlfriend wants a lot of his time. We heard him fussin' at her last night on the phone. He just wanted to stay home, get his reading done, and get to bed at a decent time. She was apparently being pissy about him wanting to stay home and he fussed at her about that, too. Can't say as I blame him. He says he feels like he's operating in a fog lately.

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And you still want to know why I don't shop at WalMart?

For months, politicians and activists have been saying that the low prices at the world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores, come at a tremendous cost to its low-paid employees. They point to lawsuits that contend the company discriminates against women and forces low-paid employees to work through lunch breaks and after their shifts, without extra compensation. Wal-Mart has also been boosting its political contributions to stop initiatives aimed at forcing the retailer to raise pay and benefits.
More to the story:

...but they felt that the company had gone too far with certain new policies. Among them were moves to cut the hours of full-time employees from 40 hours a week to 32 hours, along with a corresponding cut in wages, and to compel workers to be available for shifts around the clock.

In addition, the shifts would be decided not by managers, but by a computer at company headquarters. Employees could find themselves working 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. one week and noon to 9 p.m. the next. "So workers cannot pick up their children after school everyday, and part-timers cannot keep another job because they can be called to work anytime," says Vasquez.

In addition to scheduling changes and reduction in hours, workers are now required to call an 800 number when they are sick. "If we are at an emergency room and spend the night in a hospital and cannot call the number, they won't respect that," says Larosa, who has worked at the store for six years. "It will be counted as an unexcused absence."

See the full article here.

The article points out that one attempt to unionize in Canada was met with WalMart shutting down the store. If the employees at EVERY store vote to unionize, what's WalMart going to do, shut down all their stores?

Gestapo management, if you ask me...

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Have you priced mattresses lately? We currently sleep on a motionless waterbed. The bladder is just about 15 years old and, over the years, has "stretched" to the point where, if we want any degree of firmness, we have to fill it to the point where it bulges above the top of the bed rails. We're waking up stiff and sore mornings with aches and pains in our backs and hips. Even the chiropractor agrees that it's not doing our spines any good, nor is it providing us with any good support.

So, just for shits and giggles I stopped off at Raymour and Flanigan after work yesterday. What we need is firm support yet not so firm that it feels like a slab of concrete. We've fallen in love with the pillow-top designs because, while you get firm support, you also get luxurious softness to lay on.

Long story short, it appears that, in order to get that California King Size mattress, it's going to run us about $3,000 for what we want. Even Queen and full-sized ones are running close to $2,000. So, the options are to get the cheapest mattress we can find and probably end up no better than we are right now (which would be a huge waste of money), or bust the big buck and get what we want/need. Even something in the middle is going to cost us a couple of grand.

Man, when did it get so expensive to sleep? For that kind of money, those mattresses should sing, dance, and tell jokes...

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How is it that power can be restored to an entire state within 24 hours after three earthquakes (the first one being a 6.7 magnitude) in Hawaii, but there are still thousands without power after a snowstorm in Buffalo almost a week ago?

I've seen the argument that workers in Buffalo have had to try to maneuver around snow-filled streets but hey, they had to maneuver around impassable streets in Hawaii, too, what with the rocks and boulders and buildings blocking roads.

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It appears that Ben Roethlisberger has returned from the off-season, finally. In his first four games he seemed tentative and hurried, carrying an anemic QB rating of under 35. This past weekend, he topped the league with a 158.3 quarterback rating bringing his overall rating up to 60 points, well below what he usually enjoys.

Hell, even Jake Plummer has a higher rating (not by much).

Matt Leinart and his Cardinals put in quite a strong first half last night but somehow managed to let a 20-0 halftime lead end up as a 24-23 defeat. However, the rookie carries a QB rating of 84, well above veterans like Roethlisberger, Plummer, Favre, Culpepper and Vick.

There's also something wrong with a team whose quarterback is only 100 yards behind the team's running back (in rushing yards). In one game a couple of years ago, Michael Vick ran for 173 yards, and passed for the same amount. I wonder if anyone has considered putting a defensive back on him to contain him and make him throw more? He's really not all that great as a passer, averaging only 135 passing yards per game.

The most exciting thing about Sunday's late game was that the Broncos played the Raiders. I'm a Broncos fan, Lisa's a Raiders fan. That game should have been a blowout but, instead, Denver went the entire second half without a score, and the Raiders scored only a field goal. Major yawner.

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The Georgia O'Keeffe Color and Conservation exhibit is coming to our locale, and will be housed in the Memorial Art Gallery through the end of December.

We're thrilled to death and can't wait to get a free day to get there to see it.

Georgie O'Keeffe's floral works are seductive, erotic, and colorful. She was masterful in her use of colors, creating a sort of "emotion" with every piece she produced. You can feel something when you look at them. Some are very dark (Jack in the Pulpit IV) and others, like Cup of Silver to the left show a range of emotions.

O'Keeffe is a bit of an icon with the lesbian community as many of her floral renderings are erotically suggestive of female sensuality. Even Corn, shown at the right, is darkly erotic.

She was brilliant.











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Finally, for the Ambeau family:

At one point during a game, the coach said to little Ricky, "Do you understand what cooperation is? What a team is?"

Ricky nodded in the affirmative.

"Do you understand that what matters is whether we win together as a team?"

The little boy nodded yes.

"So," the coach continued, "when a strike is called, or you're out at first, you don't argue or curse or attack the umpire. Do you understand all that?"

Again the little boy nodded.

"Good," said the coach. "Now go over there and explain it to your father."

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A day late...

I missed National Coming Out Day yesterday. My little granddaughter had her surgery yesterday and we were at the hospital all day. She looks great and has yet to whimper or complain about her injuries at all. She whines a little about having to take penicillin to prevent infection (tastes like ASS), and was bullshit when she awoke and found they'd taken her pajama bottoms off her and her underwear was showing. She's a tough little cookie, I'll tell you.

Anyway, sassy sort of "tagged" anyone that was reading her blog to tell their story of coming out, so here's mine.

I was born a poor black child...

Wait, wrong story...

As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to play with the boys. It wasn't that I liked the boys all that much, it's just that I preferred their activities to those of the girls in the neighborhood. I loved playing baseball and football and basketball and climbing trees and running and riding bicycles and throwing rocks. I was a "tomboy" through and through. I liked BEING WITH the girls, though.

I remember being quite young and still in Catholic school. Whenever our class was let out to go to the "lavatory," I used to stand on the toilet seat and peek over into the next stall to see if I could see the girls' hoo-hoos. There was a part of me that for some reason really needed to see if I could see them. The thought of their nakedness excited me for some reason.

We lived in a small dairy community that was sort of sheltered from the real world so I didn't know about words like "queer" and had no idea of the concept of homosexuality. There was a part of me that wondered why I acted the way I did, but I didn't wonder about it all that much, I suppose convincing myself that it was the way everyone was. But I knew my interests differed from all the other girls.

When I was in eighth grade, Miss Carpenter came to our school and was a 7th and 8th grade math and algebra teacher. I didn't have her for classes because I was in regents courses and she didn't teach regents. There was something about her that drew me to her and I went out of my way to walk near or with her during class change. She was my 7th period study hall teacher and, when I got a pass from her to go to the library or the bathroom, I used to save the signed passes so that I had something of hers. Anything. I had such a major crush on her it wasn't funny.

By that age, I was aware, vaguely, of people that others called "queer" because they liked people of the same gender. I began to wonder about myself but never really worried all that much about it. Since I was abused so badly at home, I rationalized to myself that I was just happy to have someone to look up to.

I "went steady" with some boys in junior high but for very short periods of time. In high school, I had boyfriends as well but spent most of my time out on the sports fields with other girls and found that I really enjoyed participating in these types of activities with them. In my junior year I went with a guy named Gary. I really, really liked this guy and, looking back, I think it was because he was so attentive to me at first. I really needed attention a lot.

The summer between my junior and senior year, Gary got married to a girl he had apparently been seeing the whole time he was supposed to be "going steady" with me. I was crushed. Heartbroken. And I entered into a self-destructive mode.

I gave up my virginity to the first guy to come along and offer to take it and, for the next couple of years, I gave myself to a long string of men.

I joined the Army out of high school and, in basic training, learned that I had not really lived and seen all that the world had to offer. My platoon was full of 40 women of all shapes and sizes, all colors, all religions, and all walks of life. It was the first time I had ever been "exposed" to people of color and I was terrified of the black girls in my platoon. I found myself drawn, however, to the other "athletic" girls in the platoon.

After my initial entry training, I was sent to Okinawa. I was fortunate in that I was able to get on the women's softball team and instead of doing the things I was trained to do, we went around the Far East on a "goodwill" tour, playing teams from other countries. It was here that I met Sonya.

Sonya was not bull-dyke butch, but there was a butch quality about her that both attracted me and scared me a little bit. But one night she said to me, "I can't wait to get you in bed," and I remember thinking how brazen she was, talking about it openly like that, especially since we both had top secret security clearances and could lose them easily if anyone suspected we were even TALKING about being homos, let alone BEING homos..

But, I succumbed. I'd like to say that my first experience with another woman was a good one, something beautiful, but it was not. But, since I had no self-respect, I stayed with her for a while, hating what we were doing, but not knowing why I couldn't just walk away from it.

Then Sharon came along. Sharon openly admitted to me that she was gay and that she was concerned about me being with Sonya. Sharon was a good friend and taught me some things about myself. I ended up over at the Royal Hotel with her one night after we'd been out drinking. She was tender, loving, masterful, and patiently taught me things. I didn't really need to end things with Sonya as she had begun to see someone else who could "enjoy" her more than I did, so I didn't have to worry about that. I absolutely adored Sharon but when I say I loved her, I can't say I was IN love with her. I admired her, respected her, and was grateful to her that she helped me to find some self-respect and dignity for myself. When she transferred back to the states, I was alone, and lonely. I stashed that size twelve secret into a size six niche in my brain, and hoped it would stay there.

Not long after Sharon left, I met LeRoy. He was very attentive to me, was handsome, and treated me with respect. We dated every night for about 4 months and soon got an apartment together. We were married six months later.

I was relatively happy for the most part. We had a new marriage, I got pregnant, we transferred to San Antonio and bought a brand new home, had a new car. It was like I had been given a new life. In those early years, I had a very healthy sexual relationship with my husband, unlike any other man I had ever slept with before. Perhaps I had confused good sex with love back then, I don't know.

We didn't have a bad marriage, we just didn't have a good one. Frankly, I lost interest in sex, NOT because of the secret I had buried in my past, but because the only time my husband would touch me was when he was interested in sex. I got to where I felt cheap and dirty again, like I had with all of those other men before.

I woke up one morning, after twelve years of marriage and three kids, and realized that I couldn't raise happy, well-adjusted kids if I wasn't happy and well-adjusted myself. I filed for divorce and, a year later, after sixteen years on active duty, left the Army.

I moved back to New York, and settled into life as a civilian, working temporary jobs to try and support my family. I longed for someone in my life but rationalized that I needed to be a mother and be home for my kids and NOT be like those single mothers you see out there, leaving their kids at home while they're out partying. I also rationalized that I had young, impressionable daughters and needed to set a good example for them. I kidded myself very well. Occasionally, thoughts of other women crept into my brain, but I worked hard at trying to push them out and reel in thoughts of men. It was, after all, the societal norm I was born into, right? I successfully hid behind my kids for fourteen years. I did not date at all.

In 1999, with Al Gore's invention of the internet in full swing, I became a member of women.com and started hanging out at the weight loss board. I had quit smoking a year before that and was really concerned about weight gain (and rightfully so).

I met Kim at women.com and we struck up a long-distance friendship using ICQ as our primary venue. I had commented once that, if I were to have another relationship with anyone, it would be with a woman. I surprised myself with that revelation, not only to her, but that I'd sort of said it out loud. Kim responded in like fashion, although she was married at the time. That size twelve problem had begun to burst the confines of it's size six container...

Our relationship intensified and took on sexual overtones. When I flew out ot California to visit her on her birthday, we "consummated" our relationship. Kim had a lot of guilt for having violated her marital vows but a month later, when I flew out to be with her in Sacramento for a conference she was attending, we both fell into the abyss that our relationship had become, and neither of us was inclined to try to stop it, even though we knew it was going to be a painful journey.

Kim made promises to me, promises about love and forever, and promises of the future but, in the end, she claimed that her interest in me had been "titillating" at best. She swore I was too needy because I wanted more from her than she could give. Of course I did -- I loved her deeply and wanted us to be together more than anything else in the world. But I really don't think that made me needy. Kim took up the practice of letting me go and then reeling me back in, then letting me go, then reeling me back in. My head was so fucked up that I finally sat down one night with my son, who was almost 16, and poured my heart out to him. He was, after all, my best friend. I cried as I confessed to him who I really was, and he just put his arms around me and didn't say a word. I don't think he knew what to say.

But there, it was out.

Next was my oldest daughter and her response was to ask "Well, are you happy?" I really thought I was (as Kim and I were on an "up" again) and I told her "Yes, I am." "Then that's all that matters," she said.

Eventually, things with Kim ended, and ended ugly. But when that happened, I already had Lisa in my life and was drifting away from Kim and toward Lisa anyway. The ugliness of the end of our relationship broke my heart as I knew I would always love Kim on some level. She, on the other had, had to convince herself that there was something ugly and dark in me, I suppose, so that she could go on with her marriage and justify to herself what had happened.

Eventually, Lisa moved in with me, and we became closer and closer and Kim became more and more distant. Lisa and I went to Vermont and entered into a Civil Union in 2001. It changed our relationship, but we didn't tell anyone about our civil union. Lisa was not yet out to her family (even though we both KNEW that they knew, but just weren't saying anything). In 2004, we were married in Niagara Falls, Canada and, after having been denied marital benefits where I work, I brought suit against my employer for discrimination. Prior to that, I wasn't out to anyone at work -- not because I felt I had to hide it, but because it just didn't feel right to mention anything at that time.

Like it or not, we were out publicly once the news broke of our lawsuit. The day after the news article appeared in the local rag, my email box and voicemail box at work were full of messages of support both from friends and from perfect strangers. How empowering that was!

Lisa came out to her family later that year and now we no longer have that stressor in our relationship -- it had started to come between us. Of course, our neighbors read the newspaper as well, and they wished us the best in our quest for marriage equality as well.

Living "out" has made our relationship that much better -- we're relaxed when we go places with people because we don't have to hide anything. We're not in-your-face out, but neither of us is afraid to mention the other in conversation. I don't like the term "wife," as its a heterosexual term that, in my mind, defines specific gender roles, and therefore do not refer to Lisa as my wife. She's still my partner, in every sense of the word. She's the Ying to my Yang. The cream in my coffee. The sandwich with my soup. The up to my down. The macaroni to my cheese. The gas in my engine... You get the idea.

And, wonderfully, we find that each time we come out to someone, it gets easier and easier and easier.

Monday, October 09, 2006

OUCH!

So, there we were, having a nice visit with my aunt and uncle Friday night at their house, talking about the Fall Foliage Festival that we'd be going to Saturday morning. We were talking about going to the breakfast they were having at the school, and then going to the festivities afterward.

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Around 10:30, my cell phone rang. It was Michelle, my oldest daughter. It seems that Cherlyn, my youngest granddaughter who is 5½ (pictured with her mom), was riding her bike and rode it right into the back of her daddy's Blazer. They were transferring her, via ambulance, from the rinky-dink hospital where they live up here to Strong Hospital's Golisano Hospital for Children. She has a broken nose (badly), the hard palette is broken, a fracture in the eye socket near the eye, and a fracture along the bottom edge of the brow. She also had a laceration in her mouth where the upper lip meets the gums.

We packed up and left my aunt's house and made the trip back home, an hour north. I dropped Lisa off at the house, packed a bag for an extended stay at the emergency room (drinks, snacks, etc.) and off I went.

After 8½ hours in the Pediatric ED, we got home Saturday morning around 7:30. They had done x-rays of her face, a CAT scan of her head, and another of her belly, and another x-ray of her thumb. They did the CAT scan on her little tummy because she was vomiting blood and, even though they were certain that it was merely blood that she'd swallowed, they wanted to make sure there weren't any other injuries that hand't been discovered yet.

They sutured her mouth (an oral maxillofacial dentist) and sent her home with instructions to return Monday morning at 9:00. We all fell exhausted into bed and slept for a couple of hours. Lisa had coffee going when we got up around 10:30 or so.

The poor little thing couldn't eat or drink, as her upper lip had swollen to a point where it was the same size as an adult's big toe. She said it hurt to swallow and we had to beg and plead with her to take fluids. We were finally able to get her to take fluids using a child's medicine syringe. A young man who lives next door to us is an EMT and he came over Saturday and Sunday to check on her and change the packing on her nose (it would ooze and become disgusting and had a bad odor).

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This is Cher yesterday. When she woke up, her eyes were swollen shut and no eyelashes were visible at all. We found a facial ice pack (a mask sort of thing) and were better able to ice her eyes and face with it. She seemed much more relaxed with it, and even sat with the whole thing covering her face, for more than 20 minutes, just enjoying the coolness of it. We felt it did a lot of good for her.

Today she had to go back in to the Oral Surgery Clinic to have it looked at. The doctor was pleased with how much better she looked (even though he didn't see her Saturday after we all got). He removed the packing from her broken little nose and, all things considered, we think she looks a lot better today.

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This is Cher today. While it may not seem it, she looks much better. After they removed the packing from her nose, all of a sudden the little monkey had an appetite and inhaled some applesauce and a couple of french toast sticks. She drank nearly a pint of orange juice, too. I suspect the packing pressing against the fractured palette may well have been the source of her difficulty in swallowing.

She's supposed to go back Wednesday morning for surgery. They'll do what they can to fix her nose and they think they may need to insert a plate around the fractured bones in her face for support. Surprisingly, the plate will dissolve in a few months. Amazing. I think the doctors were gently trying to prepare my daughter and son-in-law for the possibility that Cher may not come out of it in the same state she went into it (before the accident).

And I've also been working on Michelle trying to help her to accept that it is going to be what it is going to be. I'm not going to think the worse-case scenario and I don't think they should, either. Besides, they do remarkable things with facial reconstruction these days and, if the kids can't afford it, I know that there are grandparents and great-grandparents and aunts and uncles that will all pitch in to help pay for any surgery that health insurance won't cover.

What amazes me about this little girl is that she has not yet complained once about any pain or dicomfort. She has taken it like a little trooper and the only wimpering we have heard from her has been when we needed to give her penicillin, which she didn't want to do because it hurt to swallow so much. I pointed out to Lisa and to Joe that, any one of us adults, would be whining and complaining about how bad it hurts, but we heard not one peep of complaint out of this tough little girl. I told her yesterday that she's my hero because she's so brave. She actually tried to smile.

They've gone home now but will be back tomorrow evening so they don't have to get up at o-dark-thirty to be at the hospital by 8:00 (I live only 10 minutes away from it). I promised her I'd have macaroni and cheese ready for dinner for her.

They'll do surgery on Wednesday and they expect to send her home same day.

I was reminded of a line from Fried Green Tomatoes throughout this whole thing:

"My momma always said there's a separate God for children."

Indeed.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Team Hoyt

I am in awe of this story, and the video.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

TGIT

Yay! Short week! Taking tomorrow off for down time...to vegetate and hopefully catch up a bit on my knitting.

I got this from Patti-Cake:

13 Random Things You Like:

1) Knitting
2) Chocolate Panda Paws Ice Cream
3) Idgie curled up next to me while I knit
4) Cuddling on a cold night
5) Cool, crisp fall days
6) Visiting my aunt and uncle
7) Doing me~me's
8) Surfing the web
9) Reading
10) Football season
11) Pay Day
12) Time off from work
13) My son's fresh haircut

12 Movies

1) First Wives Club
2) The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima
3) Shawshank Redemption
4) Grease II
5) Signs
6) Braveheart
7) Gladiator
8) Sleepers
9) Miss Congeniality
10) Brokeback Mountain
11) National Treasure
12) Road Trip

10 things about me

1) I color my hair to cover the gray
2) I'm grossly overweight
3) 25 years ago I was grossly UNDERweight
4) Nuns scare me
5) I work at a community college
6) I knit
7) I'm passionate about gardening
8) I never met my father until I was 35.
9) I have no relationship with my mother
10) I try hard to be a better parent than my own were.

9 People You Talked to Yesterday

1) Lisa
2) Joe
3) Taylor
4) Amber
5) Karen
6) Carmen
7) David
8) My lawyer
9) Mary Jo

8 Favorite Foods

1) Pasta
2) Panda Paws Ice Cream
3) McDonald's Fries
4) Broccoli
5) Cheez-its with red pepper hummus
6) Scalloped Potatoes
7) Alaskan King Crab
8) Steak

7 Things You are Wearing

1) Clothes
2) Watch
3) Sneakers
4) Bra
5) Glasses
6) Rings
7) Medical ID

5 Things You Touch Everyday

1) Lisa
2) Keyboard
3) Keys
4) Cell phone
5) Coffee cup

4 Shows You Watch

1) The Closer
2) CSI
3) Jericho
4) Law & Order: SVU

3 Favorite Actors/Actress

1) Mariska Hargitay
2) Jennifer Beals
3) Mel Gibson

2 Most Recent People You've kissed

1) Lisa
2) Joe

One Person You Could Spend Your Life With
1) Lisa




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The Breast Cancer Site

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Tuesday rant -- and it's a long one

Blogs and the web are abuzz with the horrors of the shootings in the Amish school yesterday.

I think SassyFemme stated it as succinctly as possible:


On top of that, I hate that the damn photographers covering the Amish shooting are showing pictures of the Amish on TV and online. They know how these people feel about pictures, it's not a game. Haven't they suffered enough already without having their pictures taken and blasted all over the place! How hard is it to have a little respect for people, especially people who are hurting?


As Denis Waitley said, "Bad news sells," and, the more sensational the media can make it, the bigger the return is for them. Not only are these folks victimized when violence hits their community, but then they're victimized by the media as well.

I'm going to go off on a rant now, that should bring all the rats and bugs out from under their rocks.

Anyone can buy a gun,for the most part. Oh, sure, if you want a handgun there's the requisite waiting period while the conduct a "background" check on you, but for the most part, you can arm yourself to the teeth for this sort of massacre that sickened us all yesterday.

And what do we need guns for, really? Let's look at the arguments.

  1. "Guns don't kill people, people kill people." No, people with guns kill people. It's harder to kill a dozen schoolgirls with a knife. A gun take the killer away from the act and makes it purely mechanical. A knife, or a fist, makes it more personal. Guns make it easier for the cowards using them to hide themselves, avoid detection, and avoid having to see the consequence of their actions.
  2. "I need the gun to hunt." Bullshit. Before the white man landed on this continent, the Indians sure as hell didn't need guns to hunt, and they provided for their communities quite nicely using bows and arrows. If you want to hunt Bambi, do it with a bow and arrow, don't hide behind a gun. There's no sport in that.
  3. "I need the gun for security." Bullshit. If there weren't so many guns out there in the world, we wouldn't need to defend ourselves from them. Oh, sure, you can argue that you need the gun to defend yourself in the event that drug-crazed hippies break into your house to steal your mother's china and your father's stamp collection but is your intent to use deadly force to keep those things from getting stolen? Why else would you have a gun for security, if not to use it to take a life?
  4. The Second Amendment. Sorry, but I think the spirit of the second amendment is outdated. That's my opinion, now, and I certainly don't advocate taking away any rights that are granted in the Constitution any more than I would advocate amending the constitution to discriminate. But let's be realistic here. What militia does your average gun owner belong to? Statistically, only the lower percentage belong to the NRA, and that's certainly not a militia, either. And let's be realistic here when we look at the probability of a bunch of gun-totin' folks trying to overthrow the government that has access to high-tech weapons, rockets, and nukes -- as if your handgun will win that battle.

I still strongly advocate for some form of gun control. Why, for example, would anyone need an assault rifle? Home security? To shoot Bambi? Get real!

President George W. Bush instructed Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Education Secretary Margaret Spellings to convene a meeting in Washington next week among educators and law enforcement officials to come up with ways to deal with school violence.

What are they going to do, figure out a new way to say "Tsk, tsk, that's tragic?" This doesn't take a mental giant to figure out. Making laws doesn't stop the violence but taking the tools away from those who would march into a school heavily armed with the intent to kill WOULD go a long way toward stopping mass violence in our schools. Note I said mass violence. There's no real answer to violence alone but taking away the resources with which to commit these types of horrendous acts is just the first step.

I don't just blame guns. I blame parents as well. The greatest survival skill our kids have these days is how to deflect the blame for their own actions onto someone or something else. A large part of this is because many parents don't know the first thing about teaching coping skills and responsibility/accountability to their kids. A lot of them don't know the first thing about taking accountability for their own actions, let alone teaching their kids to. Here are some examples of people I've come across in my own life:
  1. A 15 year old boy tells a teacher to go fuck herself when she dismisses him from the classroom for repeated disruptions and a refusal to stop disrupting class. Ultimately, he is suspended from school. Mom and Dad blame the teacher for not being able to cope with being told to go fuck herself. This same boy is dismissed from the football team because, as the coach tells his parents, he's "uncoachable." Mom and Dad say it's because the coach doesn't know the first thing about working with kids.

  2. A 17 year old girl is given her mother's old (2003) vehicle when mom gets a new one. She is told specifically by her parents that nobody else is to drive the vehicle, and her boyfriend is told, by the parents, that he's not to drive it. The parents are called by a friend in the local police department to tell them that the boyfriend has just been detained after having left a known crack-house -- in the girl's vehicle. Dad says "NO MORE CAR," and Mom says she has to have the car to drive to soccer practice, to her job, and back and forth to school, making "just this once" not only possible, but probable, and likely "just this once" will turn into full use of the vehicle once more.

  3. A 14 year old girl's mother calls me to see if the girl is at my house. I tell her no. She indicates that the girl told her that she'd be spending the night at my house with my daughter. After frantic phone calls and searches by a lot of parents, I run into the girl at a local convenience store and tell her she should get her butt home. She's grounded for two weeks but two days later her mother tells me that she took her off restriction because she didn't want her daughter to hate her. I'm thinking the daughter counts on and uses this emotional blackmail a lot.

  4. A 19 year old boy buys a case of coke and tells his mother and younger siblings that they're not to touch HIS pop. One of the younger siblings has a coke anyway and, when the 19 year old returns home and finds one pop gone, he tosses the entire contents of the refrigerator all over the kitchen, splattering walls, ceiling, floor, curtains and anything else in sight. His mother dismisses his behavior by saying that the younger sibling provoked it by drinking the older brother's coke.

  5. After witnessing a 15 year old boy kick my then 8 year old son's bike causing the bike to tip over and causing severe road rash on my son, asks his mother why she would listen to "...that old bitch" when I call her to tell her what her son has done. She simply says to me, "My son wouldn't do something like that."

  6. In Chicago, teenage girls douse underclassmen with urine, feces, pig intestines and other disgusting materials, while clubbing and beating them with buckets. One girl suffered a severe laceration on her head. The girls involved in the hazing were disqualified from the prom as punishment by the school. Their parents reacted by suing the school and putting on a prom of their own. One of the girls accused in the assault actually said "It's not like anyone DIED or anything." Oh, and, let's not forget that parents supplied the alcohol at the event.

I could go on, but I think it's clear that there is a generation of bad parents raising another generation of human beings that have no concept of human decency, common courtesy, and responsibility. They believe they owe their offspring a car, a cell phone, and a college education and do not ask that their offspring do anything toward earning or even helping out with these things that they are given.

These types of horrific crimes are just in their early stages. I think we're going to see them more and more frequently and, as we do, we'll be looking for everyone to blame BUT ourselves. And maybe it's time that we all took a good look in the mirror and asked ourselves "What am I doing to help with this problem?" Sitting around bitching about it doesn't do any good, nor does it solve anything. Blogging about it might raise awareness a bit here and there but, again, it doesn't solve the problem. Writing to state and federal lawmakers about your concerns is the first positive step toward solving the problem.

We need laws in place that control the ownership and use of any type of gun. We need laws that govern the secure storage of guns in the home so that children cannot get to them thinking they're a quick fix to their problems. We need to hold parents accountable for the actions of their children a lot more than we do. And we need to hold children accountable for their actions as well.

It seems to me that homosexuals getting married isn't what this country has to worry about as far as what will undermine the very core of civilization. It's guns and violence with guns that are truly what we should be worried about.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Just Another Manic Monday

The drive into work today was beautiful, what with all the trees turning colors, along with the brush and wildflowers. The sumac along the highways is absolutely breathtaking with its deep red colors. This coming weekend is the Fall Foliage Festival and, according to the early reports, it's supposed to be sunny and about 68 degrees. The drive down in the sun, with the foliage nearly at its peak, promises to be gorgeous.

Our first contract job started over the weekend. It's my foster-sister and her husband, who gave us a laundry list of things that need to be done in their 1800's vintage farm house. They recently gutted their kitchen and completely re-did it, from the floor supports all the way to the ceiling. And, when I say they gutted it, I mean they gutted it -- you could see DIRT where the floor used to be.

I cleaned and reinstalled two hard-wired smoke detectors, and installed two dimmer switches. Lisa replaced a handle on the garage door and then we both set in to doing some of the larger items. There are old-fashioned grates in the floor (from a very old and now non-existent heating system) and you could look right through and see the earth floor in the basement. Needless to say, there's cold air that comes up through there during the winter, so those needed to be covered.

We went down into the basement and looked at the flooring underneath to see where the support beams/joists were, and to evaluate just how we were going to attack this job. Amazing -- the floor is comprised of rough hewn trees. You can see the chop marks where they created the flat side to put up against the floor supports. Elswhere there are steel beams that assist the rough hewn trees in supporting the house.

Anyway, we had to cut larger holes so that we could enlarge them enough to secure new boards into the opening and attach them to the support beams. Even the wood floor is old, and made of real tongue-and-groove wood that ranges in thickness from 3/4" to 1" (we suspect that was intended to level the floor better). We got two of the four openings completed. They sure look funny with new wood inserted into the old, but apparently the plan is to carpet the floor when the work is all done anyway.

While it doesn't sound to us like we got much done, we know we did because we worked all day (actually, from about 10:00 until 5:00). We won't go back next weekend because we have recreational things planned for ourselves, but we'll go back the following weekend and every Saturday after that, for the most part, until we work through the list. We gave them an "estimate" of roughly $730 before taxes for the whole job. Some of the items on the list include removal of a tree, installation of gutters on the garage, removing old flooring and leveling a floor so that new flooring can be installed, installation of door casings and floor mouldings throughout, installation of doors and repair of windows with either broken/cracked glass or frames that don't work. There's a lot of work to be done and her husband just doesn't have time to do everything because he's a dairy farmer and, two years ago, his father died so he now has his father's farming to oversee as well.

She tells me that their neighbor is already starting on their own list.

We've decided that we're only going to work on Saturdays, for the time being. We need at least one down day each week so that we're not worked to death and feeling like we never have five minutes to sit and catch our breath. Football season is the perfect time to do it, and football gives us the perfect excuse.

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Speaking of football...

I got all the early games correct in my picks for the pool, and only got one wrong for the late(r) game. I also got the Sunday night game wrong -- who would have thought that Seattle would have allowed Chicago to run all over them that way?

I was about mid-way down the list as far as overall score, but this good week I had this week has brought me into a three-way tie for first place overall...a position shared with Lisa and another player.

We expected the Cincinnati/New England game to be more competitive than it turned out to be, but that was the only real disappointment of the day, as far as expectations. The San Diego/Baltimore game was one that kept the heart racing, as well as the Washington/Jacksonville game. Two fiercely competitive games that had all the drama.

Speaking of drama, did you see what happened in the game between Dallas and Tennessee? Dallas had just scored another touchdown and their center, Andre Gurode somehow lost his helmet. Albert Haynesworth, a tackle for Tennessee STOMPED on Gurode's face with his steel spiked cleats, causing Gurode to require more than 35 stitches in his face. Haynesworth drew a penalty but was not ejected from the game until he took off his helmet and threw it on the ground in protest over the first penalty -- it was at that point that he was ejected.

As Chris Collinsworth and his fellow commentators said, there needs to be criminal charges filed for Haynesworth's actions yesterday.

And apparently Jeff Fisher thinks so, too. He vowed to Bill Parcells that, if the league didn't punish Haynesworth to HIS satisfaction (Fisher's), the team would take their own action against him as well. Jeff Fisher is a class-act -- NO coach should accept that sort of behavior from their players, regardless of who they are.

I think criminal charges should be filed since, if he'd done that anywhere else besides a football field, he'd have been arrested.

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Joe got a phone call on Saturday morning (while he was at work at the garden center) from the new restaurant down the road that opened a month or so ago. He had put in an application there to tend bar (he's gone to bartender's school) and they were calling him asking him if he'd come in Saturday night. He agreed, called to let me know he'd not be home when we got home, and off he went.

They just shook his hand, showed him the bar, pointed out the cash register, and that was it. Joe said that the servers had been making their own drinks up to that point and, apparently, Saturday night was the bar's "grand opening." He said the cash register was a touch-screen type that he couldn't figure out how to use, and none of the servers knew where any of the drink-making supplies were. He was pretty disgusted with the whole setup, but agreed to work again next weekend. He figures it can't get worse, only better as he learns more. I tend to agree.

He made just under $100 total for the night, and really liked that part of it, too. Apparently the hourly pay is $4.25/hour and he gets to keep all the tips. He's been looking for something outside of the garden center, as he's afraid that schlepping 200 lb. trees for a living will make him old before his time. I tend to agree with that, too.

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I'm falling behind on the little guy's afghan. Not by a lot, but enough to stress me a bit. I'm only two rows behind right now but, add that to the four I should get done tonight, and that adds a bit of anxiety. No, normally six rows aren't all that much, but these rows are just under 300 stitches per row. It takes me about 25 minutes to complete a row, which means I'd have to knit for nearly 3 hours straight to get caught up. I can do that, I think, as long as Idgie doesn't climb up on my lap, look at me with those beautiful little adoring eyes, and stretch out with her little paws on my arm, daring me not to pet and stroke her. Yes, this is why I'm behind...

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I've been forgetting my meds a lot lately -- both the morning meds (Prozac) and the night-time ones (Neurontin). Probably explains the headaches I've had lately. I can't figure out why, all of a sudden, I'm forgetting them. I have a routine both in the morning and at night and I just seem to be skipping over that step. Freudian?

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I've decided to shut down my Marriage Equality blog -- trying to maintain so many web sites (four blogs, a web store, and a web page) just adds to the manic feelings. And, since things have slowed down so much on our case, I just decided to incorporate that stuff into my daily blog.