Saturday, October 25, 2008

Hey! I made you guys a present!

Don't say I never did anything for you! (wink)

It's not perfect, but I had some fun making it today. Hope it gave you all a chuckle. And if you'd really like to snag it, feel free. I'm thinking of resizing it and putting it by my Trekkies for Obama button. Ha ha!

I'm not going to beat the fruit fly thing to death, but it did get me thinking a lot today. (Uh oh....) As I told Indigo, last night I had steam coming out of my ears, but I'm a little more reflective today. Before I got up this morning, I was thinking about what it is that bothers me so much about not just Palin, but the general tone of the GOP's campaign lately. The word that sprang to mind was "incurious," and when I read my comments, my friend Dan-Guido had remarked that Palin isn't "intellectually curious." We both had the same thought, but I definitely like his phrase better!

That's something that is really bothering me lately. It's not just the recent GOP tactics of portraying anyone with a college degree, or anyone who dares to show a broader knowledge of issues and a broader world view, as someone who is "not one of us," it's the general pervasiveness of anti-intellectualism. The campaign keeps throwing out that word "elite." The liberal elite...the Washington seems that anyone who doesn't believe the way they do, or shows a desire to look beyond the superficial meaning of things, is somehow "elite."

I'm not sure when a thirst for knowledge became something to be ashamed of. This was something that was fostered in me and my sisters by my parents, and encouraged in Ken by his father, and by his mother in her love of reading. Palin's ridicule of fruit fly research in Paris, France (and I do wonder if she was referencing the Pasteur Institute) was cringe-worthy. Did she or her handlers not bother to do at least minimal investigation as to how something like that might be important? Google "fruit fly research," for Pete's sake, and you'll turn up all kind of references as to how these tiny insects have aided scientists in numerous research efforts and countless studies. It is not something to take lightly, and it disturbs me that she seems patently unable to understand that.

Palin strikes me as someone whose world view is so narrow that she simply cannot comprehend why something that makes no sense to her whatsoever might be important to someone else. If it doesn't exist in her world, it's not worth learning about and it's not important. This is not just about the campaigns and those involved with them; I've seen it in people I encounter in daily life. A feeling that someone who is curious about the world around them is somehow pretentious, or a know-it-all, or "putting on airs." There is nothing wrong with a healthy curiosity about a variety of subjects, and it's an admirable goal to want to further your education. Not everyone is able to do this, but that doesn't mean that learning has to stop. It didn't stop for my parents, although they didn't go to college.

I'm also disturbed by the fact that Levi Johnston, the father of Bristol Palin's baby, has dropped out of high school in order to get a job in the oil fields. I'm not mad about it, I'm not self-righteous about it, I'm not condemning anyone for their decision...I just find it really sad that the kid (and yes, he IS a kid) is not finishing high school. I wonder what kind of life they will have, and I hope that he is able to at least eventually get his GED.

The narrow-mindedness I've been encountering lately boggles my mind. The inability to see a broader world view is not only sad, it's dangerous. I know it's not easy to step outside our comfort zone, but it's imperative that we begin to do so, and try to understand that we are not the center of the world, anymore than the Earth is the center of the solar system, as so many once thought. (Copernicus got a raw deal, didn't he?) I had an email this morning from one of my uncles about a forward he'd gotten concerning alleged quotes from Obama's books. My uncle said that he knew I'd read the books, and he wanted to know if these quotes (mostly concerning race) were real...and if so, didn't I find them scary? I wrote back that one suspicious thing was that no page numbers were provided, that I thought that they were taken out of context, and that some of these quotes rang a bell, so I did a Snopes search. Sure enough, the exact email he sent me has been widely circulated, and the quotes were either out of context, rearranged, or were not Obama's words at all. My 80-some year old uncle cared enough to ask me if it was true. Why are others not investigating what is truth and what is lies?

But again, this transcends politics, although Palin's lack of intellectual curiosity (thanks, Dan!) is what got me to think along these lines. This is about an inability to take "one step beyond," and to realize that there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. The attitude of ridiculing someone for furthering their education, or for pursuing research that you have deemed laughable, is not being "salt of the earth." It is foolish and dangerous.

It's not paranoia if they're really out to get you

My pal Possum has pointed out something that I've been noticing for a couple of days now.

You know those word verification letters that some people use to screen out spam on their blogs? I've been noticing that lately a lot of them are starting to make...actual words. Not necessarily English words, but words that can be pronounced. In fact, I don't know what language this might be, but if I were a raging paranoiac, I might start thinking that Blogger is trying to communicate with us. Consider this: "Sheri, Mictin tansher cruntri, Crepo blittili; Simellid bilingen dinedys. Fuwho? Cultil, Ringo."

Who are Sheri and Ringo? And why are they sending cryptic messages to each other through Blogger? If one of us can crack this code, we could possibly expose one of the greatest conspiracies the world has ever imagined. Or possibly the universe, because how can we be certain that Sheri and Ringo are of this Earth? They could be Other. It could be Us vs. Them. We need to get crackin', people. The future of our world could depend on us!

Hey! Did you guys hear a voice?! [eyes darting] I think they're on to me. If you don't hear from me again, you'll know. Don't give up! No surrender! Liberté, égalité, fraternité, ou la mort! Wait, that's French. Don't mess with those bozos. They're over there in that there Paris, France, probably at that stupid Pasteur Institute, messin' around with fruit flies. And don't think that it's a coincidence that they're called "fruit" flies! You all know about the liberal fruit fly agenda, don't you? If not, email me your address. I'll send you a pamphlet.

Did you all catch Thursday night's Weekend Update? One of the things that had us cracking up was Fred Armisen and his Mega Map. I'm intrigued by the touchscreen technology that Microsoft is beginning to market to businesses, and one of my favorite things to see is John King and his map on CNN. You know...he enlarges states, circles cities, changes states from red to's amazing! Fred Armisen's take on it was hilarious, and I heard that the guy who is in charge of CNN's map actually trained him in the "Mega Map's" operation. This is the entire Weekend Update segment, but Fred's part is about a minute into it. I especially like what he does with Michigan at the end. Ha ha! It's not allowing me to embed, so check out the Mega Map here!

Friday, October 24, 2008

I kid you not!

Specific Brain Protein Required For Nerve Cell Connections To Form And Function

ScienceDaily (Sep. 10, 2007) — Neurons, or nerve cells, communicate with each other through contact points called synapses. When these connections are damaged, communication breaks down, causing the messages that would normally help our feet push our bike pedals or our mind locate our car keys to fall short.

Now scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine have shown that a protein called neurexin is required for these nerve cell connections to form and function correctly.

The discovery, made in Drosophila fruit flies may lead to advances in understanding autism spectrum disorders, as recently, human neurexins have been identified as a genetic risk factor for autism.

"This finding now gives us the opportunity to see what job neurexin performs within the cell, so that we can gain a better insight into what can go wrong in the nervous system when neurexin function is lost" said Dr. Manzoor Bhat, associate professor of cell and molecular physiology in the UNC School of Medicine and senior author of the study.

The study, published online September 6, 2007, in the journal Neuron, is the first to successfully demonstrate in a Drosophila model the consequences that mutating this important protein may have on synapses.


You can read the full story here. I kid you not, Gov. Palin, or anyone else who might be interested!

Stupid, good-for-nothing fruit flies. Everybody knows they don't do anything except fly all over your house when you have cantaloupe rinds in the garbage can. Who cares if those equally good-for-nothing scientists have been using them for decades to learn about stupid junk like genetics. What a bunch of losers.

We've got 11 days to go before the election, and I am giving you ample warning, folks. I have just about reached my limit with this woman, and I'm not sure how much longer I can stay in control over what I write here. You can feel free to take a break from me for the next couple of weeks if you don't care to read it, but I've had it up to here with her ignorance about innumerable subjects. Her glib dismissal of the humble fruit fly--haha, can you believe those dumbass scientists, messing around with a bunch of itty bitty flies?!--which has been an invaluable research tool for years and years, has pretty much sent me over the edge.

Ignorance is not a plus in politics, despite what many politicians seem to believe. Ignorant people get by all the time in local elections...sometimes in state elections...and not infrequently in national elections. However, we're talking the potential vice-president of the United States here, and this woman is no more qualified to hold such a high office than is our cat Sheeba. In fact, I insult Sheeba. I apologize to our kitty. At least he'd sleep for 22 hours a day and stay out of trouble. This woman wants to be in charge of the Senate. She wants to do stuff. head...explosion is imminent...danger! danger!

I kid you not.

The Joy of Credit Cards

Note that I didn't say the Joy of Credit Card DEBT.

Ken has an American Express card account where he accumulates "points" for every purchase. (I have an American Express Blue, and I get points, too, but I don't use it nearly as much as Ken uses his card.) You can redeem these points for all kinds of items through American Express--appliances, electronics, kitchen gadgets, golf clubs, and even better, gift cards for restaurants and stores...and even better, general AmEx gift cards that can be used as cash.

A few years ago, we had accumulated enough points that we were able to get a pool table for the basement! We bought a ping pong tabletop for it later. If you let the points rack up, you can get some really cool stuff.

We were at the point where Ken had gotten a lot of points, and we started talking about what to do with them. We decided it would be really nice for Ken to have his own laptop for here at home, rather than having to haul his work laptop to and fro from work. We weren't thrilled with the choices through the American Express website, so we opted for AmEx gift cards and went to Circuit City today. Ken got a nifty Compaq notebook with plenty of RAM and a whopper (remember "War Games"?!) of a hard drive, and he's been getting it set up this afternoon. We've even got some cash left over, which we'll roll back over into the checking account. (By the way, it's taken a few years to get all these points--it doesn't happen overnight.)

Rewards cards are great, but here's a very BIG caveat: there is no advantage whatsoever to these cards unless you pay your balance in full every month. I don't care if you've got the lowest interest rate in the history of the credit card business, it's not low enough to justify racking up credit debt just to get the cash back or rewards, especially in the current economic atmosphere. We put almost everything on credit cards, including our groceries, but we pay off the balance on each card every month. Pretty cool to put groceries on the credit card and eventually end up with a pool table and a new laptop!

Only words?

I think I'm going to go back to a smaller font. Actually, this is just the normal size, but I'd been using "large." For some reason, I can't get comfortable with these fonts. I'll keep experimenting.

Ken is still snoozing--he had a very long day yesterday!--but I was laying there wide awake, so I thought I'd get up. It was a restless night, because I woke up a couple of times when I heard something outside. There are a lot of leaves in our front yard, and something was walking through the leaves outside our bedroom window. From the sound of it, it was a decent size, and from the cadence of the steps (step step step...pause...step), I'd guess it was a deer. At least I hope that's what it was. I suppose it could have been The Mummy. Sheeba heard it, too, and he sat up from his spot by my legs, and ran out of the room. I'm not sure to what purpose, but it's good to know he's vigilant!

Even though the sound of the rain was soothing, I couldn't go back to sleep, because I started thinking about the entry I want to make. Our friend Indigo writes occasionally about her past experiences at the hands of an abuser. It's no secret; she's open and honest about it, and she has become an advocate for those who find themselves in a similar position. One of the things I admire in her is her seemingly endless ability to not only survive, but to do so with grace and humor, and her unfailing need to help others if she can. Note the hotline number on the graphic and write it down if you need to. Indigo is currently asking for anyone who wants to participate to contribute their own story in the hopes that if someone finds themselves in an abusive relationship, they will know that they are not alone. It happens all the time, unfortunately, and maybe there is someone out there who will find strength in numbers, and know that there are people who have managed to get out of such relationships and have not only survived, but thrived. So here's my tale, and sorry about the length.

I'm fortunate in that my experience didn't include physical abuse (although it was edging dangerously close...more later), but I think everyone knows that verbal and emotional abuse can also cause harm. This particular guy (heretofore known as the ex) had a family connection which I won't go into, but that complicated things further. My sister warned me, but I foolishly ignored her and did what I wanted to do. I moved to be with this guy, and we eventually bought a house. Well...I bought a house. The deed was in my name. Before I moved, there were a couple of signs that something wasn't quite right, but I didn't think much of it. An increasingly sullen look, silence, followed by an irrational argument about something I didn't wear what he thought I was going to wear when we went out the night before.

After we moved in together, those incidents got more and more frequent, and more intense. What started as arguments turned into shouting matches. I felt attacked and felt that I had to fight back, turning me into something I'm not. I made the mistake of telling him that I really hate to be called a bitch, so when the next argument occurred, he got in my face and very deliberately said, "BITCH." I can still see that triumphant look in his eyes, a sort of look that said, "There. I said it. Now what are you gonna do about it?" If I would try simply to get away, go in another room, he'd follow me and continue. If I tried to go to bed, he'd keep talking, and we'd be up until 3 or 4 in the morning, continuing these ridiculous arguments. This would continue for up to 3 days sometimes, until whatever rage was percolating in his mind was dissipated. Then came the tears. I'm so sorry, I'll never do it again, I looooooove you soooooo much...I'd die without you.

Until the next time. The silence would begin, the pouty look, and I knew it was coming. It got so that I was afraid to go home from work, because I never knew what I'd find. Sometimes I'd even get a phone call while I was at work, and I could tell by what was said and the tone of voice what I'd be facing when I got home. The name-calling escalated, and I went from just a plain old bitch to a cold-hearted bitch, and I eventually graduated to a f***ing c***. I got shoved a couple of times, and got kicked in the arm. When I got kicked I went cold, and at that point I said, "You will never again kick me or strike me like that. I mean it. Do you understand me?" Tears again. Dropping to his knees, crying, I'm so sorry I'll never do it again I love you...I'd die without you.

Then it was counseling. The guy he saw put him on medication for manic-depression, but that did no good. Next was Valium, I believe, and that seemed to take a bit of the edge off, but the attacks didn't go away. When my psychological testing came back and said that I was a normal, healthy individual (with a slight tendency towards addiction--I'm an ex-smoker, remember), he said, "I knew they'd say that. It's never you, it's always me." Nothing was changing, and it finally got to the point where he asked me if I even wanted to be in this relationship. I took a deep breath and said, "No. I want out."

And I didn't leave. I wonder why now. I suppose part of it was that I'd bought this was I going to get out? Part of it was I didn't want to hurt our families. There was definitely an element of not wanting to admit failure. So I stayed. But the writing was on the wall, and it wasn't much longer. One evening after work, he started in on me, and as he was walking past me on his way to another room, he muttered, "You stupid shit."

Okay, I can laugh about this now, because after all the things I'd been called, this was what caused me to snap. I went running after him, pounded him on the chest, and yelled, "Don't call me stupid!" Ha ha ha! The fact that this illiterate asshole (who often used the word "literately" when he meant "literally") called me "stupid" was the straw that broke the camel's back! I knew I was going to be leaving soon, I just had to figure out how to do it. The decision was taken away from me later that week. I had been corresponding online with a guy in another city, and I got a call at work from the ex...he had found those emails. (My friend Bruce told me later that if I'd tried to hide those emails, I hadn't done it very well, and he thought that it was probably on purpose. I think he was right.)

It got pretty ugly from there. My sister came over and tried to talk to us, the ex alternated between rage and tears, and he said some pretty ugly and embarrassing things about me in front of my sister. She told him to leave so I could get some things together and we'd get out of there, and she told me not to worry about what he'd said. She knew he was just trying to hurt me. (Have I mentioned that I love my sister very much?) I spent a week with her, then stayed with my parents for a couple of months until my new apartment was ready. There were a few phone calls that took place, including one in which he said, "I'm sick. I'm mentally ill. Whatever happened to stand by your man?" I believe my reply was something like I hoped he could get some help, but that I just couldn't live like that. When he knew I wasn't coming back, he told everyone he talked to what a horrible person I was. I'd walk into a book store, and someone I'd briefly met at a museum function would say, "I saw your ex the other day! Boy, he is really upset about this and talked my ear off about it." My Mom talked to one of their neighbors who worked at a furniture store, and she said, "Your daughter's ex was in the other day...he said that when she left she took everything." (I'd taken the furniture I had before and left everything else, including my washer and dryer.) It went on for several months, and Mom told me, "Honey, the people that really know you will know the truth." Good advice, and she was right. My folks saw him at one point and Mom tried to be nice to him. She said, "I bet you kind of miss Beth Anne, huh?" He said, "I miss her money!" Classy. He got a loan and bought me out of the house, and I was DONE!

I heard that the ex (thank goodness I didn't marry him) broke down shortly after I left and had to be taken to the emergency room. As far as I know, he's doing okay now (I don't think he's ever gotten remarried, after his first marriage well before I came into the picture), but on the rare occasion that I see him at a family function, he flees the scene right after I arrive. Hmm! My sister Di has a degree in Social Work, and she told me later that she thinks the ex has borderline personality disorder, and that's one of the hardest things to treat. I didn't think much about it at the time, but some time later I was reading a web site where the woman was writing about her ex-husband's BPD. Almost every symptom and behavior fit my ex, from alternating between worshipful behavior and hatred, down to that exact phrase: "I'd die without you." So was it heartless of me to not "stand by my man?" Hell to the no! It was obvious that things would have continued to escalate, and it was equally obvious that he thought the problem wasn't with was with me. And apparently every other woman he'd dated before me, who also couldn't stand to be with him for any length of time.

I believe you can always find the silver lining in a situation. While it was not a fun experience by any means, it told me that there was no way I could stomach being in that kind of a volatile relationship. When I met Ken, he had experienced some similar things (where you try to get away from the arguing, and they follow you), and also wanted no part of that. So based on our shared experiences, we knew that we both wanted no drama, no fights, no shouting matches. Remember me saying that past relationships brought out the worst in me? That's what happened with that ex. The opposite holds true with Ken, and part of that is probably because of what happened to both of us in previous relationships. I made it clear to him early on that name-calling, even in jest, was not cool with me, and he understood and doesn't do it. I appreciate that.

Maybe there are some who get off on the drama, who get a charge out of the adrenaline that comes with a fight. Hey, have a ball. Knock yourselves out, so to speak. I'll get my adrenaline rushes elsewhere.

I remember talking to my friend Pam at work about a lot of this stuff when it happened, and a few years later on. She told me that I'm about the last person on earth she'd expect to put up with that kind of stuff, and we agreed that it just shows that it can happen to anyone. It probably happens a lot more than we know. If you feel uncomfortable with such behavior, say so. If it doesn't stop, start thinking about why it isn't stopping. They either don't respect you enough to understand that it is hurtful, or they can't control themselves. The former is something you'll have to decide whether or not you can tolerate. The latter is dangerous, because after a while, they won't be content with just verbal and emotional injury.

Every human being deserves better than that.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A quick video

Just a warning that this is video is an endorsement for Sen. Obama. However, it's lighthearted and even a little bit sweet. I think that even if you don't support him, you might find this amusing.

Whoops, the video isn't loading. Try the link.

For those about to rock....

Guess what I got in the mail today?

The new AC/DC, "Black Ice." Did you get it yet, Lisa? It's great!

Woooooo! Rock and roll!

While this is nothing groundbreaking, these guys can still kick it out, man. It's pretty typical AC/DC, just some good, solid rock and roll. I was playing it on the computer, so it wasn't very loud, but you know how some blogs have music playing when you go to them? AC/DC drowned it out completely. No contest. I look forward to playing it on the actual stereo and running it through my Bose 901's. Things will be falling from the walls! Ha ha!

I've only listened to it once, so I need to give it another spin or 12, but my favorites so far are "Rock n Roll Train" (the first single, getting quite a bit of airplay), "Big Jack," "Spoilin' for a Fight," "Rocking all the Way" (with a great Angus guitar solo), and the title track. My absolute favorite, though, is the anthemic "She Likes Rock n Roll," and its chorus of "She digs rock 'n roll, She likes rock 'n roll!"

How can it not be my favorite? They wrote it for me! Thanks, guys! Mwah! Mwah! Really, it's just a lot of fun. I can imagine being at a concert and shouting along with that song! By the way, I heard this morning that their Chicago shows October 30 and November 1 at Rosemont sold out in 8 minutes. They still rock, I'm telling you.

I'm going to go start the enchiladas for Ken's birthday dinner, but before I go, I'll put up my favorite AC/DC song. Angus Young may be a strange little fellow, but I think he's one of the best guitarists in recent history. I love how this song starts with just the guitar riff and low vocals, then the drums start up, then Brian starts singing and the song KICKS in. No lyrics's AC/DC, they're not known for their poetry. Here's "Thunderstruck." Turn it up!

It's a Bucko Birthday, plus a little Huckabee

Today is Ken's birthday, so go over and show him some love!

The other day, he said, "Remember when I posted about your birthday? Don't do that!" Yeah, right. Being the uppity woman that I am, and since I don't know my place, I am being willfully disobedient and indeed, I am FLAUNTING my disobedience! Hahaha! [hands on hips, triumphant laugh] I'll make up for being a liberal feminist by making one of his favorite dinners, enchiladas. I can't make them as good as his Mom, but they're still pretty tasty. And some refried beans, too. It will be a Mexican fiesta here at Casa Nutwood! Olé!

Sometimes I can be serious, and I'll just say what I've said to a few people. I've been in relationships with guys who brought out the absolute worst in me. Ken does just the opposite. Seeing the way he treats people, and the way he loves my Mom and Dad and my family, his work ethic, and of course the way he treats all brings out the best in me, and he makes ME want to be a better person. I hope he has a wonderful day, although it will be a long one...but I hope that he continues to enjoy coming home to me. LUWAMHHP! (Yeah, it's a code, and no, I'm not telling!)

Happy Birthday, Ken! Huzzah!

Now for the Mike Huckabee speech we attended. It was as big a crowd as for Karl Rove, but we found a couple of seats together pretty easily. There were a couple more empty spots to Ken's left, and a few minutes after we got there, the Chief Nuclear Officer for Ken's plant came in, and sat by Ken. I had seen Mike at the Habitat house dedication, but never got to meet him. He seems like a really decent guy, pretty low-key. He wasn't eating, because it turns out he had just had dinner with a few others, including...Huckabee. He sort of downplayed it and said he must have gotten lucky or something, but the truth is, he's the CNO of one of the biggest employers in the area. He said Huckabee seemed like a really nice guy, but obviously he didn't go into details about what they talked about.

Oh, and Mike mentioned that at the last election, he was working at AEP headquarters in Columbus, Ohio. You all know that Ohio was a major swing state in 2004, as it is this year. He said that the weekend before election day, the phone rang NONSTOP the entire weekend. Indiana is supposed to be a battleground state this year...I told Ken we might have to go out of town! I guess turning off the phone would work, too, for that matter!

As for the dinner...remember that last time it was really barfy? They must have gotten some feedback, because this time, it was totally NON-barfy! In fact, it was prime rib! It was a little more done than I like prime rib, but it wasn't dry at all. They also had some steamed veggies with it, including some of those cute little pattypan squashes. Yum! I didn't have one of the little zucchinis, but the guy across from me held up one and said, "Does anyone know what this is?" Ken said, "It's a baby zucchini!" I told Ken on the way home that I felt like saying, "Dude, you need to eat more veggies!" The people around us seemed a little more lively and talkative than last time, and there was a little bit of political discussion, but nothing major. One thing that was brought up was Obama's fundraising abilities. A couple of people felt that there's so much money there that there has to be some foreign countries or corporations contributing. Ken said no, they can't contribute to his campaign fund--there's a dollar limit (we think it's $5000) that an individual can contribute to a campaign, and I don't believe that foreign countries and foreign corporations can contribute to their campaigns at all. On the way home, we talked about how that's a matter of public record...anything above $200 is reported and out there for people to look up.

Back to the speech. We turned our chairs around to face the stage, and I got out my pen and notebook. Yes, I really took them! Huckabee seems genial and generally affable. He started out with some joking remarks...some were fairly funny, some I thought were pretty lame. His speech was mostly a reiteration of his primary campaign platform. He said that there are a lot of bad things being said about America right now, but there's still no place he'd rather live, because of our freedoms, etc. I agree, but I think that ignores the serious problems we've got, and while I think most of us are still very happy to live here (I know I am), it's small consolation for those that are struggling. I'm quite certain they are also happy to live here and have an abiding love for our country, but I have a feeling that they want a few more answers than, "No matter how hard it is for you to make it, you can be proud to be an American!" Yeah...we all know that. So how does that help those who are barely keeping their heads above water?

He went into this weird shtick about a fictional place he called "Hucktown," where there was only one law: Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you. Because of this law, Hucktown had no economic woes, no need for a large police force, no drug problem, no crime, blah blah blah...basically, all of our problems are due to the loss of our "sense of decency" and our lack of "ethical behavior."

WTF? I wrote down on my little pad of paper "Simplistic." As we were walking out, I told Ken, "That place doesn't exist. It never existed!" To me, that is a fundamental problem with the recent Republican agenda...they want to return to a time that never existed. He painted a pretty picture, but you know what, Mike? There will always be liars, cheaters, and thieves. There will always be those who are motivated by nothing more than sheer greed. It's laudable to hope for better, and to believe the best of mankind, and you all know that for the most part, I try to be that way. I'm also a realist, and I know that there is no changing human nature, and that's why there must be regulatory agencies in place. Wow, he totally sounded like a Pollyanna on that one. "Everyone is wonderful, trust that they'll do unto you the way they would want you to do unto them!" Riiight, Mike. I bet they'd do unto me, all right.

He also talked about his big thing, the consumption tax. I.e., instead of paying income tax, there would be a consumption tax on everything we buy. While it has a certain appeal, and I'll have to do more research on it, I just don't see it happening. He says that everything has a 22% built-in tax, and if that was taken out, we'd pay less in taxes. Hmmm. Do you really think manufacturers would drop all their prices by 22% if this were enacted? I doubt it!

Then it was time for Q&A, which Huckabee said wasn't questions and answers, but questions and avoidance. He said if he ever wants to run for public office again, he needs to do the latter. (There is some speculation that he may run again in 2012. Ken said he'll have to go through Palin. I said, "Nah. She's toast.") Someone asked about term limits for Congress. He said he's all for that, they enacted that in Arkansas, and even in the military, general officers are required to retire at the age of 64. (More about that in a moment.)

Another question was from a pharmacy student, and it was about health care. I actually liked Huckabee's answer to this one: he said that we have a procedure-based system, rather than an all-around care system based on prevention and healthier living. His phrase was that we're treating snakebites instead of killing snakes. A pretty good analogy.

One guy stood up and said that he's a lifelong Republican, but he thinks it's going to be a total slaughter in a couple of weeks. Huckabee said, "I hope you're wrong, but I think you might be right." A-haaaa! He went on to say that Republicans need to figure out why that is. One of the problems he referenced was the handling of Hurricane Katrina. He said that while a lot of Republicans want to blame it on Louisiana's governor at the time, he was Arkansas's governor then and that state saw a huge influx of displaced people. He said there was mismanagement on many levels, including on the part of the federal government. (There's a news flash.) He said that he remembers, as we all do, people stranded on top of their houses for 5 or 6 days, and that "We are better than that." There was the sound of one person clapping in the audience, and oops! It was me! A few others finally joined in, thank goodness.

So that was all the pertinent stuff I wrote down. As Ken and I were talking about it afterwards, we said we were both tempted to ask a question (I actually had two I thought about asking), and Ken's question was kind of related to mine. I suppose if I'd had another glass of wine, I might have had the guts to ask it, but one glass wasn't enough! In Huckabee's little dream sequence about "Hucktown," he mentioned "morals" a few times, as well as a "sense of decency" and "ethical behavior." Ken said he would have asked how Huckabee defines the difference between "morals" and "values." (I think that's right--correct me if I'm wrong, Ken.) My question would have been, "You mentioned a sense of decency and ethical behavior. Do you feel that the recent negativity of Senator McCain's campaign is ethical or decent?"

My other question would have referenced his comments that general officers must retire at the age of 64. "If general officers in the military have to retire at 64, do you feel that Senator McCain, at the age of 72, is too old to serve as President?" retrospect, it's probably good I didn't have enough in vino veritas to ask those questions. Remember, we were sitting right by Ken's head honcho! Oddly enough, I found Karl Rove more interesting *gasp*, probably because he gave more of an analysis of the presidential race. Although I suppose that Huckabee saying that he thought it might be a "Republican slaughter" in a couple of weeks was worth hearing!

So there you go! I find that I enjoy hearing these speakers, no matter if I agree with them or not. Politics is FUN! [said in a Barbie voice]

It's almost 2 o'clock, and poor Ken has to get up at 3, because the forced outage starts tomorrow. I've been trying to do well with getting to bed earlier, but I'm afraid I'll disturb his sleep if I go to bed now, so I'll stay up a while and catch up on blogs. I'm sure I'll be crashing hard at 3 or so!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Oops, she did it again

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Oct. 21) - Gov. Sarah Palin charged the state for her children to travel with her, including to events where they were not invited, and later amended expense reports to specify that they were on official business.

Whoops! Quick! Somebody call Marge Gunderson to investigate! You betcha! ("Fargo" is one of my all-time favorites, by the way. End a' story!)

You can read the full article here. It should be becoming increasingly clear to everyone--and polls show that it is--that this woman was not properly vetted by McCain's campaign, and that she is no "reformer."

The other news yesterday was that she explained that the Vice-President is "in charge of" the Senate, and can work to get laws passed that are part of the administration's plan. The way I understand it, the VP does not have a say in legislative matters, unless it is to break a tie. While obviously the VP is going to deal with the Senate, she gave the impression in this interview (as well as in the debate) that she wanted to expand the VP's role. I reeeeeally don't think that's such a good idea....

It was pretty funny, because we were watching Chris Matthews on MSNBC, and one of the people he had on was Pat Buchanan. (ack) Apparently this interview was about asking questions that were submitted by second or third graders, and the VP question was one submitted by a kid, then posed by the reporter. Buchanan kept saying "She was talking to a second grader!" and Matthews kept saying, "No, she wasn't, she was talking to a reporter" and Buchanan would say, "It was a second grader!" Sheesh, sheer insanity. First of all, she WAS talking to a reporter, but my bigger question was, "So it's okay to lie to second graders about our government?" I wonder what the cutoff is. Junior high? High school graduate? That's when you can start telling them the truth? I suspect that for the course of this campaign, age limits for when to stop lying have been completely suspended!

Oh, and did you see this? The RNC has so far spent more than $150,000 on clothing and accessories for Palin and her family, at Saks in St. Louis and New York, and Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis. I don't know about y'all, but I don't think I've spent $150,000 on clothes in my LIFE. Considering that some people are finding it tough to put food on the table and to keep a roof over their family's heads, that seems a little...UNaverage to me. Hey, when they go back to Alaska in November, do you think they get to keep the wardrobe as a lovely parting gift?

I've been feeling feisty the past couple of days. Could you tell? Must be all that evil rock and roll I listen to. It's giving me ideas!

If I don't get to your journals blogs today, I will as soon as I can. Tonight we've got the Huckabee speech to go to. I'll give you a report tomorrow. In fact, I was even thinking of taking along a little notepad and pen, and playing Girl Reporter. That way I can be accurate for you. Oh boy, I get to play Liberal Elite Media! Yippee!

There's that feistiness again.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What do you say now, Joe?

I don't know all the details, such as who exactly has done this, but I just heard on CNN that a group of concerned citizens has started a fundraising drive to raise money for everyone's favorite non-celebrity du jour, Joe the Plumber.

Apparently they have raised enough money to pay Joe's back taxes, as well as the fees required to obtain a plumber's license. (As far as completing the apprenticeship and training necessary to qualify, it seems that is squarely upon Joe's shoulders.)

I have to does Joe feel about "spreading the wealth around" now? Is he going to refuse the money? After all, he didn't EARN it, did he? Seems to me that Joe just might be taking WELFARE here!

ARRGGGHHHH! At first, I was mildly irritated by the guy and the unwarranted coverage he received from the candidates and the press. As more came out about him, the more irritated I got, but I figured he'd go away eventually. Now I think my head is going to explode.

It was obvious from the beginning that the guy just doesn't get it when it comes to what taxes are for. As Colin Powell pointed out, taxes are, for all intents and purposes, a redistribution of wealth. They pay for our schools, our highways, our military--from which we all benefit--and yes, to fund government programs for those who need help. Is there abuse of some of that? Absolutely. Should we stop offering to help those in need? No way. Doofus Joe says that Obama's plan to raise taxes on those in the top 5% of earners in this country, despite the fact that Joe is NOWHERE NEAR that level, smacks of "socialism." How do you feel about the bailout, Joe? How do you feel about the government investing in our BANKS, which is edging very close to nationalization of our financial system? Huh, Joe? TELL US!


If you want to salvage a tiny little shred of whatever credibility you think you have, JOE, you'll say "Thanks but no thanks" to those people who felt something called [air quotes] compassion [end air quotes] for you and your plight, and out of the goodness of their hearts--something you seem to have lost along the way, JOE--contributed money to help YOU. Tell them, JOE, that you believe in working for your money, and you realize that it's up to you to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and work your way out of the hole you've gotten yourself into. Tell them that you, in all good conscience, cannot accept that sort of handout. Tell them that while, like Blanche DuBois, you appreciate the kindness of strangers, you just can't accept their money because it would be like accepting WELFARE.

Go on. Tell 'em, JOE. [poking my cyber finger into his cyber chest]

Yeah. That's what I thought.


Man, did I ever score big at Circuit City today! I intended to only get 3 movies to flesh out, if you will, our horror movie collection, but they had some great titles! And I promise, I'm done buying movies for a while--we've got plenty to keep us occupied for some time! I even put one back--"Bram Stoker's Dracula." Good, but not one of my absolute favorites.

In addition to the classics "Fright Night" and "Carrie," I got the relatively new "1408," one I haven't seen yet.

They also had the remake of "The Hills Have Eyes" (haven't seen that one yet, either), "Hostel Part II" (the first one was really good and creepy, and this is the unrated version of the sequel...uh oh), "Thirteen Ghosts" (haven't heard much about that remake yet, but it looks intriguing...didn't a fellow Spotter recently write about this movie?), and I was thrilled to find another old classic: Clive Barker's "Hellraiser." I think Ken may not have seen that one, so that's a must-watch soon!

I LOVE Clive Barker's writing--it's some of the most unusual and downright out-there stuff in the past couple of decades. Much of it is more fantasy than horror, but he can ratchet up the Creep-o-meter as well as anyone, and "Hellraiser" is a great example of that. Pinhead and the other Cenobites are the stuff of nightmares. (Personally, I found Chatterbox and Butterball creepier than Pinhead, though.)

What is it with me and horror movies, you ask? Hey, thanks for asking! I'll tell you: I'm not really sure. I know that I've loved them ever since I was a little girl, watching the Creature Feature in our darkened basement. It's something that I have thought about before, because people have wondered how I can watch some of this gruesome stuff. I guess it's because I have a clear delineation in my mind of what is real and what is fake (Much like the "real America" that Palin is speaking about lately, apparently as opposed to...what? Faux America?), and I know that these things aren't real. I think it's the same reason why some of us find roller coasters so horrifyingly're pushing the envelope, you're taking a risk, it feels as though you might die...but it's all in fun and it's all safe.

Watching a horror movie is like that for me. It's fun to get a little scared, have that rush of adrenaline, imagine how scary it would be to be in such a situation, but you're doing it all from the cozy comfort of your couch. You can turn the light on when it's over. It's an experiment in terror that is controlled by you. The fright is mixed with laughter, because you know it's not real, and you can laugh at yourself because you jumped when someone clamped their hand on your shoulder. (KEN!)

I think that's some fun stuff, and that's why I love creeeeeepy moooooovies. Heh heh heh....

Monday, October 20, 2008


A short note before I get to a movie review. Based on a recent comment, I want to reiterate that while I may have differences with various candidates and their policies, I in no way want any harm to come to ANY candidate, and I do not condone any wish for such harm to be visited upon them. I just do not operate that way.

Now to the movie!

There wasn't much on last night, so we watched one of our new movies: "Desperation." (And no, it's not a movie about the McCain campaign. You knew I couldn't resist, didn't you?) Desperation is not a state of mind here, it's a desert town.

This is based on Stephen King's novel of the same name, and King also wrote the screenplay. It was released in 2006 as a TV movie...I'm not sure how we missed it! Maybe we were on vacation.

I thought it was a lot of fun, and it stuck fairly close to the novel--not surprising, since King wrote the screenplay. I can't imagine he'd enjoy screwing up his own storyline!

It begins with every road tripper's worst nightmare: getting pulled over in some desolate location by a cop who ends up being a complete and utter psychopath. But this cop is no ordinary psychopath...he inserts strange utterances into his conversations with his prisoners, words like "Can tah" and "Tak!" Something seems to be happening to him physically. Decay? Melting? Is his face actually...splitting?! Turns out he's not just psycho...something has gotten a hold of him. He's already thrown a few other travelers into Desperation's town jail, including a young boy and his family. David has been through a tough time lately, including watching his good friend almost die in a bicycle accident. David makes a deal with God that if his friend's life is spared, he'll do whatever God wants him to do. Another one of the prisoners is John Edward Marinville, a writer who spent time in Viet Nam as a war correspondent...and who has some demons of his own to confront.

As the questions begin to be answered, we find that the locus of the problem is Desperation's mine, known as the China Pit. After being closed for many years, it's been reopened, and there is a disturbing history there that has been awakened. Part of the problem is that whatever lives in the China Pit can take over various bodies until it wears them out and must find another host, as well as commanding various desert denizens such as snakes, scorpions, wolves, cougars, and coyotes, who keep our scared and trapped travelers from escaping the town.

Sacrifices will be made, and young David must face the pain of reality and loss. What will HE have to sacrifice?

I enjoyed it quite a bit. I really like Tom Skerrit, and it was a nice surprise to see Steven Weber (one of the brothers on "Wings") as one of the main characters. It was fairly cheesy, but as you all should know by now, I LIKE cheese in my movies! I'm also enjoying watching scary movies lately, because it's just that time of year. What am I saying? It's always the right time for a scary movie!

In fact, I see that Circuit City has its usual sale on movies, and they're heavy on the scary ones this week. Yes, I'll be making a trip to pick up a couple of my favorites: "Fright Night" (vampires!) and "Carrie" (telekinesis! proms! AGGHHH!), as well as one that I haven't seen yet, but I hear is pretty good: "1408," based on a Stephen King story and starring John Cusack. Haunted hotel room, anyone?

I love October! Or should I say...SHOCKtober?! Bwah hah hah hahhhhh!


I don't know if you all saw my friend Dan's comment, so I wanted to make sure you did:

Beth, your blog item about me and the pic and life at Ball State was too cool and a great birthday treat! I figured your entry would be short and sweet. Silly me! The entry was great! And just as cool as the photo and entry were all the friendly comments from your friends about my birthday. The coincidence of my birthday and the photo and your entry have left me nearly speechless! To all who wished me a happy birthday, thank you Big Time.

-dan(Formerly Guido;Currently CatManDude)

Thanks from me, too, for the nice birthday wishes for my friend. He got to see what a nice bunch you are. Hmm, he's a journalism major, maybe I can get him to start writing a blog...!

Do you all remember when we heard Karl Rove speak at the Economics Club dinner a while back? I wrote that even though it was Rove, it was pretty interesting, and I managed to not implode. Well, I had a note from Ken this morning that he got a pair of tickets for the next speaker, this Wednesday: Mike Huckabee.

If it seems like it's all about Republican speakers at this club, that's only because they can't have speakers who are currently in office, so there's a cycle of when an administration comes to an end, they get those speakers. Next year they're hoping to get Pres. Bush, and then Condi Rice. When the Clinton administration came to an end, they had Pres. Clinton and other Democrats. (I think before he announced he was running for President, they had Barack Obama.) It's definitely a conservative bunch, but they make it clear that they are nonpartisan, at least as far as choosing speakers.

I think I'll enjoy hearing Huckabee speak. I hear he's a pretty good speaker, and he impressed me a couple of times during the primaries. (When talking about allowing children of illegal immigrants to go to school, some of his fellow candidates said, in effect, no way, and Huckabee said, "We [the country] are better than that.") I'm also very pleased that this is happening just a couple of weeks before the election. It will be interesting to get his take on it. He has to know that things aren't looking good for their guy. Let's just hope the food isn't barfy this time, but I'm not going to get my hopes up!

Speaking of "their guy," I saw a video this morning of FoxNews's Chris Wallace interviewing McCain. Wallace asked him if he thought the choice of Sarah Palin was dragging down the campaign, or something like that. McCain said no, absolutely not, and "as a cold political calculation, I could not be more pleased." He went on to say that "she's a direct counterpoint to the liberal feminist agenda for America."

Dammit! He figured us out! For years, my sistahs and I have managed to keep our liberal feminist agenda (heretofore known as LFA) under the radar, but that crafty John McCain somehow infiltrated our ranks and now he's telling everyone about the LFA! Darn you, John McCain! [shaking fist] We would have gotten away with it if it weren't for you and your meddling!

This could ruin everything. All my early work with my great-niece might now be for naught. I started when she was just tiny, whispering things in her ear as she lay in her crib...things like, "Equal pay for equal work" and "Girls can be scientists." And it was working, too--she wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up. As soon as she got old enough to officially join the club, I was going to get my free toaster oven! (For each one we "turn," we get a toaster oven.) I've been trying to spread the word (quietly, of course), and I was doing so well that I was getting close to reaching LEFA status! (Liberal ELITE Feminist Agenda)

I just don't know what's going to happen now. I'm afraid we might have to go deep underground. But I shouldn't fret too much. We have an emergency plan for just such a scenario. I can't go into great detail, but have you ever seen the movie "The Stepford Wives"? Or do you remember the FemBots in the Austin Powers movies? Our contingency plan is based on that model. I guess I'm going to have to go shopping soon for dresses with Peter Pan collars, and Mary Jane shoes. A few years of that should lull everyone into thinking that there is no threat from uppity women who don't know their place.

So, John McCain, you get the temporary victory in this battle [she said as she stroked her cat], with your formidable anti-feminist Sarah Palin weapon. You've made me angry, and when Beth gets angry, Sheeba gets upset. And when Sheeba gets upset, people DIE!* But rest assured, the war continues. We won't give up, Mr. McCain. We'll be right here, watching you, and our struggle will go on!

*This is a joke. An Austin Powers reference, to be specific.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Get your red hots, right here!

Today in our local paper, there was an article about voter registration problems. Apparently there is a situation in Lake County (home of Gary) in Indiana, and the article went on to talk about problems with college students voting. Some kids are considered out-of-state students, but registered successfully to vote in Indiana, only to find that their student ID wasn't enough to qualify as the necessary ID for voting. (Indiana has recently passed a law that requires photo ID--driver's licence or other government-issued ID--for voting. I don't have a problem with that, and you can obtain free photo ID from the BMV [on the QT and ASAP!...sorry, I couldn't resist adding a few more acronyms], but I think a legitimate college ID card should also count.)

The article said that there have been attempts to allow college students to vote early, including on the campus of my alma mater (and Dan's), Ball State:

In Delaware County, Ball State University officials asked election officials to set up an early voting center on campus for the general election, but GOP officials objected and the site was not approved. Delaware County Republican Party Chair Kaye Whitehead told The Star Press of Muncie that a campus site could encourage voting by uninformed students easily swayed by freebies like hot dogs.

Exsqueeze me? I guess Ms. Whitehead (hmmmm) thinks that not only are college students a bunch of uninformed cretins, she also believes that students at Ball State are so hard up for food and so malnourished that they can be enticed by the prospect--and perhaps the aroma--of free hot dogs. Sort of like the Pied Piper, but with wienies.

Ms. Whitehead's comment has to be about the stupidest thing I've ever heard. I find it indicative of the attitudes of the party officials and administrators (not members...hell, I'M a registered Republican) that they would block the chance to let college students vote early, because they believe they're "uninformed" and "easily swayed" by something like free food. Are you kidding me? Free beer, maybe, but free hot dogs? Get real.

Here's some information for you, Ms. Whitehead. Anyone that is 18 years of age can vote, and it is not your job to decide if they are "uninformed" (or hard up for food). They have every right to vote that you do, and they have every right to vote early, just like you, and just like me. The fact that they reside on campus has nothing to do with their ability, right, or intelligence when it comes to voting.

This morning, Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama for President. Part of his thought process, as he explained it, was the choice of Sarah Palin as McCain's running mate; part of it was the negative tack that McCain's campaign has taken in the past few weeks; part was the reaction and bearing of the candidates in response to the economic meltdown; and part of it was that he sees his party trending towards exclusion rather than inclusion. To reiterate, I believe Powell's statements are his own condemnation of the GOP platform, not the majority of Republicans, and let me say it again: Beth <--registered Republican. Hearing a Republican county official say that college students are uninformed and swayed by free hot dogs actually makes me laugh. As Ricky Ricardo would say, "It's just so reeediculous!" Wake up!

The Return of Guido

No, not the Guido you all know (and who has been so helpful in moving us over to Blogger). I've got a Guido of my own.

Dan (Guido was a nickname) and I met back in college, at Ball State. We lived in the same building, although it wasn't really a coed dorm. The guys lived on the bottom four floors, in Hurst, and the gals lived on the top four floors, in Mysch. There was a curfew, but there was also a fire door between the fourth and fifth floors. How long do you think it took for our friends in Hurst to disable the alarm? Ha!

Whew, we all had some wild times, let me tell you. Dan (AKA Guido) and his roommate Jeff (AKA Lance), Steve (AKA Leroy), and various other friends and characters...Paul and Pam, Andy and Little Sue, Shannon, Melanie (who ended up being one of my roommates when we moved off-campus), that crazy guy who bit off someone's ear (I think he died several years ago)...Barb, Sharon, I wrote to Dan the other day, sometimes it all seems like a blur.

I've lost touch with Dan off and on, but we're back in touch now. I'm glad we've remained friends, and we've had some good laughs lately.

One of them was over this picture. I have very few pictures from college, but my friend Sharon got this one of me and Dan in my dorm room. If I recall, this was right before the school year ended, and this was our last hurrah of the year. Gee, do you think we were having a good time? Dan has a look on his face like, "Damn paparazzi!" and I've got a look like I'm about ready to keel over. Notice all the pictures on the wall behind my bed. I had a bunch of the Police, and I see Jim Morrison and Peter Wolf of the J. Geils Band back there. My 8-track player is on the shelf above my bed, and Dan is holding an album. That would be a VINYL album.

Dan had never seen this picture, and when I scanned and sent it to him, he got such a kick out of it. It kind of made us reflect on that time, on how we've changed and where we've ended up. I'm very happy where I am at right now, and Dan seems to be happy, too. But looking back at our college days...I suppose that was really the last time I didn't really have a care in the world. Yes, I went to class and kept my grades up to keep my small scholarship, and earned my degree, but beyond that, a whole lifetime was ahead of me, and I felt that happiness was mine for the taking. As the saying goes, shit happens, and it happens to all of us...that's just part of life, and to be expected. To have those college years in which we made the transition from being kids to being on the verge of adulthood was, in retrospect, a wonderful gift.

I haven't seen Dan for a few years now--I think the last time was when I lived in Indianapolis--and maybe we can remedy that soon. He tells me that I don't seem to have changed much (he hasn't seen the white strands popping up in my hair and the laugh lines around my eyes!), but he says he's got a beard now, and salt and pepper hair that is more salt than pepper. Ha ha! Hard to believe it's been over 25 years since this picture was taken, and it's a little unnerving to realize that. But it's all good.

I hope you'll all join me in wishing my friend Dan a very happy birthday today. He turns 46 today, and I can divulge that because I'm older. Just a little bit. Only 50 days.