Saturday, January 17, 2009

Bored? Does not compute.

I've spruced things up a little here at Cyber Nutwood. I still love the previous look and may eventually go back to something similar, but I've been in a retro mood lately so I decided to give it a retro vibe. The pattern on the header is the classic formica pattern with its amoeboid shapes (Look for it at your favorite diner--the pattern, not amoeba!), the font is called Diner (I've been looking for it for a while, and stayed up late one night and found it!), and the pink and turquoise are common Googie colors. I stuck with my gray background, though, because it's always been easiest on my eyes. Even at the lab, where we could customize our screen displays, I always wanted the pale gray because that caused the least eye strain for me.

One guy used to modify his screen so that it was bright yellow, red, etc. Very vivid colors. We had to deal with enough eye strain as it was, with lots of microscope work, computer work, picking tiny colonies off agar plates...why compound that strain on your eyes with a Dayglo, Technicolor computer screen?

Ken and I ran some errands today and the temperature was much more tolerable, despite a brisk wind. Night before last, it got down to 19 below in our city, which was the fourth coldest temperature on record. The town my folks live in got it even worse, getting down to 26 below! I hope that's the end of the intense cold for this season. That's just miserable, and dangerous for kids and the elderly.

We got stuff for stir fry today. Doesn't that sound good? These boots were made for wokkin'...sorry, I couldn't resist.

I've read a few comments recently in which people wrote that they were bored. Now I want all of you to stop that kind of talk right now, young men and young ladies! There is no excuse for boredom! A couple of years ago, our friend Indigo did a turn as Guest Editor on the old AOL Journals, and I can't tell you how flattered I was that she included me in her list. One of the things she wrote was that boredom was not an option in my world, and I've never forgotten that. In fact, I've adopted it as my unofficial mantra. I included it prominently in my new header.

There's a lot to be said for having the ability to self-entertain. When I announced my retirement at work, one person asked me, "Won't you get bored? I'd get so bored." When I see our neighbor out at the mailbox, he asks me, "Are you bored yet? I'd be really bored." Some of Ken's coworkers asked him, "What is she going to DO?"

I can truthfully say that since I stopped working 9 months ago, I have not had one single moment when I thought, "I'm bored." Cabin fever is something else entirely. I told Ken today that it felt good to get out--even though I've had no problem keeping myself occupied, it's a mental thing knowing that you can't get out, as opposed to not wanting to. But boredom? Not even an iota.

I think that temperament and personality has a lot to do with it. I'm very much an introvert, and I've written before how I get my sense of "recharging" from solitude and from peace and quiet. Others get their stimulation from interacting with others and recharge their batteries that way. I'm not saying either way is better--it's very different for different people. I just happen to be able to get my jollies out of pursuits and interests that others might find boring. I've got a freakin' library downstairs, so shame on me if I ever say I'm bored!

I don't know if it's something that can be learned. For those who are extroverts and need to interact with people often, I doubt if my way could ever be their way. I might just be hardwired to have a Low Entertainment Maintenance Level (LEML, and I just made that up, but I like you have a LEML or a HEML? Maybe you have a MEML.). I don't know, but I'm grateful for it. It doesn't take much to amuse me, and it has served me well over the years.

Bored? Not this gal!

Good Anon vs. Evil Anon

While I've encountered an Evil Anonymous in the past, it seems that they have a Good twin. This is the kind of Anonymous comment I don't mind getting!

Anonymous said...

I am a current employee for PP of Indiana. Reading your blog and the comments of others lifted my spirits. It's especially uplifting to hear of the men and women we have helped receive basic health care and birth control. We are not the evil we are often presented to be, and I cannot tell you how happy it made me to read about those that have used our services or see the endless need for our services. I wish we received just one of these comments for every hateful e-mail we receive. Thank you all for sharing your stories, and thank you author for not only seeing the importance of PP of Indiana, but for writing your representative. A true patriot acts.

Thank you to everyone who made a comment on my entry about Planned Parenthood and the important work that they do. It seems that together we helped to brighten someone's day, and that makes me happy!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Throwing the baby out with the bath water

Planned Parenthood Billboard Pictures, Images and Photos

A few days ago, I read an article in our local paper about the ongoing efforts of a state representative to halt funding for Indiana's Planned Parenthood sites.

To give you a little background, late last year, a videotape surfaced in which a 20-year-old woman was posing as a 13-year-old girl. (I'm not sure who this woman was working for.) When she told PP workers that she was pregnant, and her boyfriend was 18 (or something like that--a legal adult, at any rate), the workers said that they didn't want to talk about that. Apparently, if workers find out that there is the possibility of abuse or statutory rape, they must report it to authorities. These workers ignored the information.

Obviously, they were wrong to do so. But this representative, Jackie Walorski, took steps to start an investigation, and in the meantime, asked the state to stop funds to all of our state Planned Parenthood offices. That bothered me enough at the time, but when I read the latest article, I decided to write to her.

The two workers in question no longer work for Planned Parenthood. However, Walorski is still attempting to stop funding, and according to the article I read, was asking for contributions on her website to continue her efforts. From what I understood, that's not really illegal, but there was something to do with the timeframe of when she was asking for donations--it all seemed horribly convoluted, and to me, it's all beside the point! When I read that she was still pursuing a cut-off of funds, that was it. I wrote to her.

Dear Representative Walorski,

As a woman, one of my concerns is that all women have access to information about women's health issues, and access to birth control. I have been reading with interest the saga of Planned Parenthood and your efforts to cut off their funding because of the recent videos that surfaced and raised concerns about the mandatory reporting of child abuse.

I do not dispute that Planned Parenthood must adhere strictly to those guidelines in order to protect children. However, the employees responsible are no longer working for the organization, and while enforcing the law is an admirable goal, your desire to cut off their funding is shortsighted and not conducive to women's health.

Do whatever needs to be done to enforce the mandatory reporting rule, but I strongly urge you to stop your efforts to cut off their funding. Planned Parenthood helps millions of women gain access to health screenings and birth control that they would never be able to afford otherwise. As a microbiologist, I saw first-hand the rampant spread of sexually transmitted diseases, and Planned Parenthood works hard to try to educate and assist women in the prevention of these diseases.

Cutting off their funding because of this incident is akin to cutting off your nose to spite your face. This is a worthwhile organization, and I urge you to desist in your attempts to stop their funding.

Thank you for your time.


I know that not everyone is a fan of Planned Parenthood, and you're entitled to your opinion. If you feel the need to comment here with your opposition to the organization, I won't stop you (unless you get nasty with me), but I also won't be drawn into a debate about it. I believe they do important work in helping women (and men--PP is not restricted to women only) get health screenings that they might never get otherwise, screenings that can sometimes save lives. They provide birth control to men and women of all ages, preventing unplanned pregnancies. They assist local and state health departments in the tracking and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, some of which can be passed congenitally to fetuses. They help with prenatal care for those young women who are pregnant.

For quite a few years, during college and after my divorce, I went to Planned Parenthood, and was grateful for their services and was happy to support them. As a young woman, I was in a position where I could pay for their services, and I felt that my payments went towards helping others who were unable to afford care.

No, I believe Walorski is wrong to attempt to stop funding to Planned Parenthood. She hasn't been successful so far, and I don't believe she will be. She promises to respond to all letters, but I've heard nothing yet. Possible abuse absolutely must be reported in order to protect children. PP has said that the laws and their policies are clear, they have fired the employees in question, and they are retraining their workers in the regulations. Walorski's attempt to cut off funding is nothing more than political posturing, and she is ignoring the health care needs of thousands of Indiana residents, especially women. Shame on her!


A final word today, this one about the "Miracle on the Hudson." In such rough times, how great is it to see these true professionals, including Captain Sullenberger, bring their passengers to safety under some very dire circumstances? The last person out was the Captain, after walking the plane and making sure that all his passengers were safely out. And how wonderful was it to see the Coast Guard and ferry workers speed to the scene and rescue each and every passenger? I guess there's something to be said for being a part of the "liberal elite" that lives in New York City. Apparently it confers some sort of bravery gene. A standing ovation for every single person involved in this rescue. Amazing, heartening, and very, very inspiring. Let's hear it for the good ones. Huzzah!

Cats: a user's guide

Cousin Shane had this up on his Facebook page, and it was so funny I had to put it up here. Since I love cats and I also love a particular engineer, I found it irresistible.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Googie signage

The lovely Miss Ginger wonders, "Why is it called 'Googie' signage and 'Googie' architecture?"

Excellent question, Miss G., and although I think I may have written a little about Googie before, it was some time ago and I don't think I wrote a ton about it. This is one of the finest signs I saw on our recent trip. I love the starburst/sun rays at the top, and when lit, they light in sequence. Very cool!

Googie is part of futurist architecture, and originated in southern California. It takes its name from Googie's Coffee Shop, which was demolished in the late 80's. Googie was prominent from the late 40's through about the mid-60's, and was inspired by car culture, and the Space and Atomic Ages. Frequent design elements were geometric shapes, boomerangs, atoms, starbursts, and flying saucers; roofs were often triangular and upswept, indicating speed and energy; and materials included glass, steel, and neon.

Googie architecture and signs lost their appeal in the late 60's, and many buildings and signs were torn down. In the 90's, efforts began to preserve these unique examples of a short-lived style in American architectural history. I love them because they seem happy and cheerful to me, and as you know, I loves me my retro stuff!

There is a great book by Alan Hess dedicated to nothin' but Googie (Googie Redux), and some great examples of Googie can be found at Roadside Peek. Next time you're out and about, see if you can spot some signs that you think might be Googie. You're looking for triangles, sphere, starbursts, etc. Neon is a plus, but not a requirement. If you find a good one, take a picture and put it up on your site and leave a comment here about it. I always love seeing new signs! It can be a new game: Spot the Googie! More Vegas signs to come as soon as I can get busy on a slideshow.

Lord have mercy, I'm a Bethsicle! It was cold enough when I went out to get the mail--thank goodness the postman had already come! This afternoon, I turned on the TV to watch CNN while I did a little ironing, and I couldn't get the channel. No CNN? ACK! *swoon* I started messing with it, resetting the receiver, etc., and eventually I couldn't get any sort of satellite info at all. I took a look out back, and sure enough, the dish had a whole bunch of snow piled up on it. I had to take out the garbage, too, so I bundled up and headed out. Ski suit topped with my parka. My core stayed toasty-warm, but my face was freezing, even with my hood up!

And wow, it's pretty deep. It was definitely close to my knees, so I'd say at least a foot total. I brushed off the dish, took the garbage can out to the road, and by the time I was done, I had worked up a sweat! And there was a happy ending, because I 'm watching CNN right now. Huzzah! As for the temps, we're still on track for 13 below tonight, so all I can say is that I hope that those who don't have a home make their way to shelters tonight. It is dangerously cold.

Source: "Googie architecture." Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 2008. 15 Jan. 2009.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

R.I.P. Ricardo Montalban

"From Hell's heart, I stab at thee; For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee."

~~Herman Melville

Insane in the Membrane

First, an erratum: The hotel that Howard Hughes was staying in when he was so vexed by the glowing silver slipper was Wilbur Clark's Desert Inn (one of the first on the Strip), not the Frontier. Never let it be said that I don't strive for accuracy! Besides, I don't want to be responsible for anyone losing a game of Trivial Pursuit, although I'd be very surprised if that is a question. [wink]

When I was working out today, I was reading the latest issue of Time, and there was a fascinating article about Borderline Personality Disorder. I didn't study Psychology, except for a course in college that I enjoyed very much, but it's always been a sort of hobby of mine. (Most people pick things like scrapbooking...I pick Googie--which I will soon explain further--and Psychology.) Dissociative personality disorder (i.e., multiple personality disorder) was always particularly interesting to me, but a few years ago I had reason to become acquainted with Borderline Personality Disorder, heretofore referred to as BPD. (Not to be confused with Bipolar Disorder, which is completely different.)

I was once close to a person who I came to believe had BPD, and I've encountered another since then who I also have reason to believe suffers from this disorder. As I said, I'm not a psychologist, but my sister Diana got a degree in Social Work and also believes that one of these people (she's never met the other) has BPD. I had an epiphany one day when I was reading a blog in which a woman was writing about her ex and his diagnosis of BPD, and the behavior that he exhibited and things that he said. One phrase in particular jumped out at me: "If you left me, I don't know what I'd do." On the surface, this seems like a fairly innocuous statement of devotion, but considering the other behaviors I was witnessing, it wasn't harmless at all: it was an implied threat, although it was uncertain as to whether to him or me. (I heard later that after I left, he had some sort of emotional breakdown and had to be taken to the ER.)

I found that the emotional upheaval of implied harm was intolerable. Not only did I wonder what he might do to me, he was using emotional blackmail to keep me from leaving. An unspoken, "If you leave me, I might hurt myself." As you may have figured out by now, this gal doesn't play that game. I have no patience and no tolerance for that kind of blackmail, especially in someone who professes affection for me. I got away from that, obviously, but I have since encountered similar behavior, and it's equally as disturbing and manipulative.

When I talked to Diana about this years ago, she said that BPD is one of the hardest disorders to treat, and can take years of behavioral therapy. The Time article confirmed that. Psychologists and psychiatrists dread having to treat a person with BPD, but there is a new therapy that is apparently showing promise. It's called dialectical therapy, and includes individual therapy, small group therapy, and case management in which the therapist works closely with the patient to help them modify their behavior. Drugs have shown very little effect in the treatment of BPD.

In the past, the number one characteristic of BPD patients was considered to be simply "anger." Today, diagnosis is made when at least five of these criteria are met:

1. Frantic efforts to avoid abandonment
2. Unstable relationships
3. Unstable self-image
4. Impulsivity
5. Recurrent suicidal behavior
6. Mood instability
7. Chronic feelings of emptiness
8. Inappropriate anger
9. Stress-related paranoia

Based on these criteria, both of the people I have in mind probably have this disorder, although as far as I know, they haven't displayed suicidal behavior (which is common in those with BPD). Another article I read a while back spoke of the tendency to put others on a pedestal and display an almost fanatical sense of devotion. (The guy I knew set up a veritable shrine to me, with several 8x10 pictures up, and even a few 11x14 pictures. That's a little creepy, believe me.) When the threat of abandonment looms, devotion turns to extreme anger and volatility, and equally fanatical hatred.

I have no answer as to how to deal with those who have this disorder. It's sort of like the old joke: "How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but the light bulb has to want to change." I remember that when we attempted separate counseling, my tests came back showing that I was psychologically healthy other than a slight tendency towards addictive behavior. His comment was, "I knew it would come back that way. It's never your fault or their fault, it's always MY fault." (See #9 above.) This is only a guess, but I'd be willing to bet that these people are, on the surface, fairly capable of exhibiting normal behavior. I know that this person was certainly different around others...there was often inappropriate behavior and comments, but it was tolerated. His behavior in private was much more volatile (see #1-4, #6, and #8 above). The bottom line was that he mostly believed that there wasn't anything seriously wrong with him. When he realized that there were issues, he still didn't comprehend that it was something he really needed help with, and that it couldn't be solved with medication alone. I suspect that while they may realize deep down that something is screwy with them, and that things never seem to work out right for them, it's probably very hard to admit that some pretty intensive therapy is necessary.

I'll get back to a lighter subject tomorrow, I promise. Reading that article just made me think about my previous life.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Boneyard

I hope everyone is safe and warm today! We've been getting snow most of the day, and tonight it's supposed to get bone-chillingly I suppose it's a good time to write about the Boneyard!

I had a lot of great experiences during our short trip to Vegas, but I think I was most thrilled to get to tour the Boneyard. As I've mentioned previously, it's part of the Neon Museum, and it's where old signs go to retire. Not die, because the hope is that they will eventually be restored, and a dozen or so have been and reside downtown at the Fremont Street Experience.

The Boneyard is a 3-acre expanse of neon tubing, rusting metal, broken glass, and old signs piled on top of old signs. And oh's WONDERFUL! It is available by appointment only, and I started trying back in the summer to see if I could get a tour time for us. It was questionable if they were going to be offering tours right after the New Year, but not too long before I left, I heard back from Erin, and she said that they were going to have tours available. Yippee!

Check out the picture: Ee-yo eleven! (Another chance for a gold star: what movie is that from?)

We rode the Blue Deuce down to Fremont Street and hiked a few blocks to the Neon Museum offices. I could see some of the signs poking up over the top of the fence that surrounds the Boneyard, and I was so excited. Our tour guide, a very knowledgeable and funny young man named Justin, walked us over to the Boneyard and unlocked the gates, and in we walked. Feel free to insert angelic choirs singing here, because that's how I felt. I know I'm kind of weird about signs, but Ken has been a good sport and indulges me in my urge to take pictures--or go to museums--of old signage. I can't explain it...I just think they're fascinating. In the case of the Boneyard, it's not just that there are classic examples of Googie signage, but it's also a bit of Vegas history.

That's where Justin came in. I sort of thought it was going to be a self-guided tour, where we just walked around and looked at and took pictures of the signs. After the tour, I understand why they can't do that, because there really is a lot of broken glass and rusty metal, and if people won't protect themselves, the Museum has to! Justin told us about some guy a few weeks ago who backed into a piece of broken neon tubing and had to go to the ER. Considering my natural klutziness, I was very careful. Anyhoo, Justin told us about restoration of the signs (it averages about $40,000 per sign), materials used, anecdotes about the Boneyard itself (lots of photo shoots and music videos are shot there), and historical facts about the casinos and places where the signs originated.

Vegas has been notorious for just imploding casinos and tearing things down in order to build anew (I'm talkin' to YOU, Steve Wynn!), so it's great to see people getting involved in historic preservation there. This is as fascinating a part of history as anything else in our country, with plenty of interesting tidbits. It's a shame that so many things perished before preservation really took hold in Vegas...I wonder what happened to the Sultan that stood astride the Dunes entrance, for example?

A short slideshow will follow, but I wanted to include a couple of photos first, with some comments.

Here's a closeup of my favorite sign at the Boneyard, the silver slipper from the Silver Slipper Gambling Hall. It's just so kitschy and cool! You can see a few intact light bulbs here, and every dot on the shoe contained a light bulb. Imagine what this baby looked like when it was all lit up!

No need to imagine--below is an old photo of how it looked in place. It didn't just light rotated! I've read that after Howard Hughes bought the Frontier, across the street from the Silver Slipper, he'd stay in his room at the Frontier and the glow from the slipper just drove him crazy (well...craziER) and he decided to buy it so he could tear it down. (Sounds like Steve Wynn is channeling Howard Hughes. Apparently Wynn found the sign for the Frontier offensive, even though he can't see it...he had the place demolished and made no efforts to preserve the sign. The folks taking down the casino are friends of the Museum and brought parts of the sign over.) The Silver Slipper survived until the late 80's and then was demolished. The slipper itself made its way to the Boneyard, and Justin told us that it's one of the next in line for restoration. I think he said that it weighs a couple of tons, and will cost about $100,000 to restore.

The Neon Museum is a nonprofit organization, so all of their funding comes from whatever they charge for photo shoots and from private donations. If I won the lottery, I'd be paying for a sign or two! (I think I'd choose the Sweetheart Motel sign.) These may look like junk to some, but to me they are bright and shiny pieces of history. Many of them were made by Young Electric Sign Company, or YESCO, and they still make signs for various places in Vegas. I don't think the modern signs have quite as much character as the old signs, though, do you?

Steve was asking me how I found out about this. He said they were looking through a lot of information about Vegas and saw no mention of the Boneyard at all. I couldn't really remember, but I got several books about Vegas after our last trip, and I must have read about it there. I wasn't sure if anyone else in our group would enjoy this tour as much as I knew I would--have you noticed my obsession with signage? Ha! I think Ken has caught a little bit of my enthusiasm for this stuff over the years, so he enjoyed it, and I was so pleased when both Kim and Steve said that they really enjoyed it, and were happy that I was able to arrange a tour. I think that anyone interested in the history of a place like Vegas would enjoy this tour very much.

So the next time you're getting ready to go to Vegas, try to arrange a tour at the Boneyard. Tell 'em Beth sent you! I don't think you'll be disappointed. They are going to open a Visitors Center soon, and that's another cool thing--it's built with the facade of the salvaged lobby of the El Concha Motel. Justin said that it's one of the rare (did he maybe even say the only?) pieces of actual architecture that has been saved in Vegas. It's a gorgeous piece of Googie architecture, and it is in place at the Boneyard, although not yet open. I hope they can continue to grow their preservation efforts, and that people will pick up on the renewed interest in "old Vegas." (Justin told us that the Sahara is looking to get away at least a little bit from its NASCAR makeover, and go for more of a 60's style--SWEET!) I believe that most people are intrigued by old Vegas, and enjoy hearing about its history once someone takes the time to tell them about it. The Neon Museum can capitalize on that, and I hope the word gets out about them--I'll do my part! I'll look forward to our next visit so I can see the new Visitors Center, as well as that beautiful Silver Slipper, restored and dazzling!

Coming soon: downtown Vegas signage, and Fremont Street night!

Here's the slideshow. Click on any picture to embigginate.

Never let 'em see you explode

For some reason, this just tickled me.

From The South Bend Tribune:

Suspected Walmart bomb was deodorant

SOUTH BEND — A bomb scare led to the evacuation of the Portage Road Wal-Mart Monday evening, police said.

According to South Bend police spokesman Capt. Phil Trent, police were dispatched to the store, at 3701 Portage Road, about 4:45 p.m. after an enlisted military man reported a suspicious-looking object in the deodorant aisle.

Police arrived and, with the help of store personnel, created a perimeter around the area with shopping carts.

Eventually, the Bomb Squad was called and about 5:45 p.m. the entire store was evacuated, Trent said.While waiting for the Bomb Squad robot to arrive, Trent said, bomb technicians examined the object and determined it was a two-pack of deodorant bound with shrink wrap.The sticks of deodorant looked suspicious, Trent said, because attached to the bottom of one was what appeared to be a piece of machinery, possibly from the plant where it was manufactured.


They actually evacuated the store because of this! After creating a perimeter with shopping carts, of course. Haha! I know we all need to be vigilant, but this seems a little too paranoid!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Night of the Living Plumber

Lucy commented: "Please someone just make Palin and Joe the plumber go away."

I wish I could, dear Lucy, but it appears that Joe the Plumber, AKA Sam Wurzelbacher, is going to hang around like a nasty rash. He's got a new gig: correspondent for some outfit called PJTV, reporting from Israel about the recent conflict. Here he is talking to an Israeli reporter. The video is followed by a transcript of part of his comments. (Please be patient with the video--it took a few moments for it to load for me.)

I'll be honest with you. I don't think journalists should be anywhere allowed war (sic). I mean, you guys report where our troops are at. You report what's happening day to day. You make a big deal out of it. I think it's asinine. You know, I liked back in World War I and World War II when you'd go to the theater and you'd see your troops on, you know, the screen and everyone would be real excited and happy for them. Now everyone's got an opinion and wants to downer–and down soldiers. You know, American soldiers or Israeli soldiers.

I think media should be abolished from, uh, you know, reporting. You know, war is hell. And if you're gonna sit there and say, "Well look at this atrocity," well you don't know the whole story behind it half the time, so I think the media should have no business in it.


Joe, not only do you have but a tenuous grasp of grammar and of public speaking, you are talking about yourself. You're there as part of the media, you dumbass! At one point, standing in front of a pile of spent rockets, he had this to say:

I have thousands of questions but I can't think of the right one.

Great googly-moogly! This guy is traveling the world as a representative of the American media! For any of my readers outside the U.S., I implore you to not judge us based on Joe the Plumber. Please forgive us this trespass. I am mortified that this ignoramus is styling himself as some kind of actual reporter. "Media should be abolished from reporting." What?!

Isn't that kind know...what they do?

Oh my God, I am caught in a strange state of combined hilarity, disgust, and embarrassment. With a dollop of horror thrown in there. I don't know whether to laugh or vomit! Okay, I'll stick with laughter. I kind of want to hear more from him, because this is downright entertaining! In a train wreck sort of way.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sarah Palin talkin', and just DON'T do it!

I was happy I got my Christmas cards done today. When I told Ken, he (jokingly) said, "Wow, you really got an early start!" As soon as I said what I did, I realized that it didn't sound quite right. "Doing my Christmas cards" meant that I took all the Christmas cards we got this past Christmas and cut them up into gift tags. What I couldn't use, I put into recycling. It's a great way to use your cards, and it will be a nice reminder of family and friends when I wrap gifts next year! Get creative, too. Remember there are often little logos on the backs of cards, so just put the holiday logo in the lower corner, and hey presto! You've got a nice little gift tag. There were some cards that I got 6 tags out of! And some cards were so pretty that I was able to use the entire front, and I can put those on large presents. Give it a try--I guar-ohn-tee you'll never have to buy another gift tag!

I've mentioned Sarah Palin's most recent interview, this time with a guy named John Ziegler. I'm not familiar with him, but he is a conservative something-or-another (writer? blogger? radio personality? I don't know, and don't care enough to investigate further.), and he has a website titled How Obama Got Elected. When I went to the blog, there was the picture of Obama by artist Shepard Fairey, except Ziegler had added a halo to it. That told me all I needed to know. I'll preface the rest of this entry by saying that I've made no bones about my utter disdain for and dislike of Sarah Palin, and I gave up trying to be kind shortly before the election, when she disrespected fruit flies. I'm not going to be kind here, either--not by a longshot--so if you choose not to read this, I'm cool with that and will not be offended. You have been fairly warned.

The title of Ziegler's documentary for which he interviewed Palin is called "Media Malpractice," so it obviously takes the position that Palin was unfairly treated by the media. (By the way, I'm not going to link to Ziegler's site, because it almost locked up my computer. You can Google it or search on YouTube for excerpts from the interview.) Palin is on her "unfair treatment" like mud on a pig, and although she previously said she got a real kick out of Tina Fey's portrayal of her, she now says that both Fey and Katie Couric "exploited" her candidacy, and that "says a great deal about our society." WTF? What exactly does that say about our society? That we like political satire, and that news anchors like to interview political candidates? How dare they?!

Palin went on to say that the press treated her harshly because of her background. Personally, I saw none of that, although she and McCain often spoke of the "liberal elite media," and "liberal elites," who McCain said live in the fine cities of Washington, D.C. and New York City. Seems to me that her alleged harsh treatment was more of an insecurity problem, i.e., she herself felt inferior, so was quick to attack others for their "uppity ways." She even spoke of the question asked by Couric about the newspapers she reads (and Palin's infamous answer), and says that she found the question offensive, and felt that Couric was implying that people in Alaska don't read. "To me the question was more along the lines of, ‘Do you read, what do you guys do up there, what is it that you read?’" If she read that Couric was implying Alaskan ignorance with that question, that tells me more about Palin and her insecurities and paranoia than anything else. I know people like that in my life, and it's pretty obvious when someone has an inferiority complex.

Palin really didn't care for Fey's line (when Fey was portraying Palin in the VP debate skit, in response to a question about gay marriage), "I believe marriage is meant to be a sacred institution between two unwilling teenagers." Palin commented, "The mama grizzly rises up in me, hearing things like that. Here again, cool, fine, come attack me. But when you make a suggestion like that that attacks a kid, it kills me."

I'll admit to laughing at the line in the skit, but I am not laughing about the fate of Bristol Palin, nor am I laughing about her future. I honestly feel sorry for that kid and her boyfriend and their child, and if I've ever sounded like I'm attacking them, that was not my intention (but I still think Tripp is a silly name). What infuriated me about the whole thing is that Palin is an advocate of abstinence-only education, and my question is still, "How's that workin' for ya?" A recent study shows that abstinence-only education does not work. I urge you to take a look at the graphs in the study: they show statistically identical results for those who received abstinence-only sex education and those who did not. However, those who pledge abstinence are less likely to use birth control and protection. I know it's a noble goal to promote abstinence, and I applaud any kid who decides to wait, and I applaud the parents who are able to get a kid to make that decision. But I believe that it is wrong to teach only abstinence, because hey--have we collectively forgotten what it's like to be a teenager with raging hormones?! Forewarned is forearmed, people, and I would much rather any kid of mine--kids in general, for that matter--be conscientious about the consequences of unprotected sex, rather than block them from access to birth control, protection, and knowledge! Why are some people still stuck in that rut that knowledge is dangerous? Knowledge is POWER.

Palin also wasn't happy with McCain's campaign, because after her first poor performance in an interview with Couric, she realized that it didn't go well, but the campaign gave the go-ahead for a couple more sessions. Sorry, Palin, but I remember at that time that you were virtually inaccessible to the media, and it was getting to the point where you had to give interviews, otherwise the media was going to get royally pissed. For a while, weren't you pissed that the campaign wasn't allowing you to give interviews? Which way is it? The fact is that you were woefully unprepared, both for interviews and for the vice-presidency, so I have no sympathy for you, the campaign, or McCain. He made the decision and the offer, you accepted. End of story.

The comment that really made me laugh was when she was talking about the Couric interviews, she said, "Katie, you’re not the center of everybody’s universe." Wow, nice job. Way to win friends and influence people--piss off a national news anchor. Here's a news flash, Palin: if you want to be part of the national scene in politics, you are going to face much tougher interviewers than Katie Couric. Couric was asking simple questions, and you couldn't handle it. Couric was not acting like she was the "center of everybody's universe," she was doing her job.

Ziegler said that he enjoyed his interview with Palin, and that anyone who thinks she is "stupid" is seriously misinformed. I've never thought she is stupid. I wouldn't say she's particularly smart, and would be more likely to say she is..."unstupid." I think she's a canny politician, and has a knack for seeing which way the wind is blowing. I do, however, think she is willfully ignorant. As I've written before, she is intellectually incurious, and anything that doesn't make sense in her world she deems as being of no consequence to anyone else. If you wonder why I'm still writing about this woman, it's because she keeps putting herself out there. Meanwhile, John McCain has kept a low profile and has quietly gone back to doing his thing in the Senate. Palin seems to be aiming for national office, and as long as she does so, I'll keep aiming for her...with words only, obviously.

Questions answered

LJ wondered: "Did you notice if there were fewer tourists there? A few of my coworkers who have went to LV & love it have wondered if the economy is affecting LV yet."

Whew boy, you'd better believe it, Lisa. Things still seemed to be hopping by our standards, but everyone from our cab driver to several of the dealers told us that 2008 was a bad year for Vegas. We noticed a lot of empty tables, but then we were there during the week. When we checked in, they asked us if we wanted to upgrade to a suite; Marty writes that they tried to get him to stay another night at the Bellagio. We had heard that some of the construction was being suspended, and I just read yesterday that the big new CityCenter complex (it's huge!) is slowing down construction. The Harmon hotel (part of that complex) is halting construction for a few months, and I believe it was the condo portion that they have completely halted, and will give the money back to those investors.

So by all accounts, Vegas is hurting. Casinos and hotels are offering deep discounts on their room rates, and show tickets are easier to get at a discount. Perhaps it will put a halt to the almost out-of-control building that went on for the past few years. Caesar's Palace, of all places, was putting up another building. If you've ever seen Caesar's--or been caught in the seemingly endless twists and turns of the place--you'll know that it's this huge network of buildings and underground shops. I'm not even sure how many buildings there are in Caesar's, but it seems like a couple of dozen! (I'm exaggerating. Probably no more than half a dozen.)

I just saw an ad online for cruises, and I told Ken that if we had the money for another cruise right now, it would be a great time to get a deal. Ken said he has a feeling it will be that way for a while, and I suspect he's right. Tourism would be a tough trade to be in right now. Did you hear that several Broadway shows are closing early? I think I heard "Hairspray" and "Jersey Boys" are going dark a few months before scheduled. So yeah, it's a tough time, and I think destinations like Vegas will be hurting for a while.

Question Two: I mentioned that the Golden Gate had the first phone number issued in Las Vegas, and said that anyone who guessed it would get a gold star for the day. I suppose I need to up the ante, so to speak, because only one person, Laurel, hazarded a guess. She guessed "7," and that's a pretty good guess. She realizes that this was long before the seven digit phone number, or area codes. Remember when phone numbers consisted of a word and a few numbers? For instance, if you were told to dial "CIrcle-842", you'd dial the corresponding digits to C and I, then 842. Maybe the most famous example of this was Junior Samples on "Hee Haw" and his phone number "BR-549," which I believe later was used as the name of a country group.

But I digress. The Golden Gate's phone number (and this was before it was called the Golden Gate--I think at the time it was the Hotel Nevada, or something like that) was even simpler than that. Their phone number was "1." That's it. If I were a marketer back then, I would say that a good slogan would have been "Dial 1--for fun!"