Friday, May 22, 2009

An early night

Just so you all know that I didn't spend the entire day in full outrage mode, we had a lovely day here at Nutwood. It was beautiful weather, and after Ken mowed the lawn, I tried my hand at pomegranate martoonis. They were very tasty, but potent, so we only had one each.

We had time for a movie, and watched "Night at the Museum," which Ken recently ordered. It was much better than I thought it would be! Kind of silly, of course (it's a Ben Stiller movie, after all), but still fun. I'm a sucker for anything that has to do with museums or history, and I loved how it stressed the importance of learning from history. I also loved seeing Dick Van Dyke, one of my favorites from the 60's.

We're heading off to bed soon, because we want to get an early start tomorrow. I'll be out of commission for a few days, because we aren't taking either of the laptops; this trip is all business, baby. Get there Saturday evening, load the truck Sunday, head back Monday, unload the truck on Tuesday. Bada bing, bada boom. Wish us luck and pleasant travels, and catch ya in a few days!

Saved by the barbecue

Boy howdy, I had steam coming out of my ears yesterday, but once I had a full tummy, I felt all mellow and content. Today I'm still feeling pretty mellow, and that's probably a good thing. It really does help to sleep on things, and I feel like I will be more thoughtful and less emotional. We shall see. I think everyone should give a big thank you to last night's beef barbecue, because it is what kept me from writing a profanity-laden entry last night! If you're thanking the barbecue, you can't leave out the baked beans and the cole slaw, because they played a big part in it, too. So let's hear it for last night's meal! [applause] I think you’ll be glad that I toned it down a bit.

Adam and Kris Before I get to my main topic, I should comment on the "American Idol" finale. I think it was the best finale they've ever had, with some awesome performances by Rod Stewart, KISS, and Brian May and Roger Taylor of Queen. Yeah, I know I'm showing my age there, but I still love their music. I was never that much into KISS, but their songs are fun in the short term. Did you hear Adam singing "my" song? ("Beth") Very cool! So a great finale, right up until they announced the winner, Kris. I'm not a Kris-hater or anything, and I think he's got a fine voice, but Adam's voice just blows him out of the water. I still think Adam is the superior talent, the better entertainer, and has the better voice, by a mile. I never heard him hit a bad note, and that's amazing in a weeks-long competition like this. They'll both do fine, and I wish them luck with CD sales and tours. But I hope Adam outsells Kris. [grin]

Do I think that Adam's loss had anything to do with him being gay? I really don't. We've embraced singers like Elton John and Barry Manilow (well, not the latter for me), and I don't see how that would color anyone's view of the contestants. I think that although Ken and I loved Adam's voice, there are plenty who didn't care for it or for his style. [shrugs] Each to their own. I thought it was a great season, and next year might be a bit of a let-down for me with no Adam. He's been my favorite contestant of all the seasons since I've watched the show. He sure generated a lot of buzz for them!

Okay, onto the main topic. Dick Cheney.

Warning: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. If you don't want to read bad things about Dick Cheney, there is no need to continue; feel free to move along. If you are offended by bad language, you may not want to venture any further, because there will probably be profanity involved. This will also be a long one. Pictures are provided for comic relief. Thank you for your patience and patronage.

Dick Cheney smiling After the President's speech on national security yesterday, Dick gave one of his own. I'm not sure when I've ever read such a steaming pile of idiocy. You know, I've always tried to maintain a certain respect for higher office, and even at Bush's worst, I tried to refrain from petty name-calling. Dick no longer gets a pass, because I've decided that he's just plain evil. He is scrambling to try to justify his behavior and authorization of the use of torture (and I've made it clear how I feel about that), hopeful that history will judge him well. In your dreams, Dick. History will judge you as one of the most heinous characters to ever come to power in our country. Let's look at a few choice snippets. I'll comment as we go along.

In top secret meetings about enhanced interrogations, I made my own beliefs clear. I was and remain a strong proponent of our enhanced interrogation program. The interrogations were used on hardened terrorists after other efforts failed. They were legal, essential, justified, successful, and the right thing to do. The intelligence officers who questioned the terrorists can be proud of their work and proud of the results, because they prevented the violent death of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent people.

It's called torture, Dick. Stop the use of the euphemism "enhanced interrogation." It was torture. It was not legal. Not essential. Not justified. Very limited in its success. Most definitely not the right thing to do. The information prevented the death of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands? Where is the proof of that? What do you know that we don't, and if it was so successful, why aren't you sharing the details with us?

All the zeal that has been directed at interrogations is utterly misplaced. And staying on that path will only lead our government further away from its duty to protect the American people.

Bullshit! The zeal is perfectly placed: on you and others at your level who authorized torture! I also feel confident that our current administration is committed fully to keeping the American people safe, and the majority of people agree with me.

You’ve heard endlessly about waterboarding. It happened to three terrorists.

Three? Three?!  If the technique worked so well, why didn't you use it on everyone? Think of the information that was lost because you didn't use it on every suspected terrorist that you had in your slimy little hands. Way to go, DICK.

Torture was never permitted...

Dick Cheney offensiveBullshit! The consensus is that waterboarding is torture. You haven't been paying attention, DICK.

...we hear from some quarters nothing but feigned outrage based on a false narrative.  In my long experience in Washington, few matters have inspired so much contrived indignation and phony moralizing as the interrogation methods applied to a few captured terrorists.

Believe me, it's not 'feigned,' Dick, and what part of the narrative do you maintain is false? My indignation, and others', is not contrived, and I don't think you're one to talk about 'phony moralizing.'  You're spinning like crazy to try to get people to believe that you did no wrong. You're not just immoral, you are amoral.

What’s more, to completely rule out enhanced interrogation methods in the future is unwise in the extreme. It is recklessness cloaked in righteousness, and would make the American people less safe.

It's not unwise, you ass. It's the right thing to do. Again, don't be schoolin' us about righteousness; I don't believe you have a righteous bone in your body. What proof do you have that not using torture would make us less safe? What sort of twisted, insane logic draws that conclusion? Never mind, I answered my own question.

But no moral value held dear by the American people obliges public servants ever to sacrifice innocent lives to spare a captured terrorist from unpleasant things.

There you go again, Dick, with the euphemisms. Unpleasant things...I assume you're talking about torture?

For all the partisan anger that still lingers, our administration will stand up well in history...

Don't be so sure, Dick. You're trying, you're really trying, but you're not convincing anyone.

For all that we’ve lost in this conflict, the United States has never lost its moral bearings.

Dick Cheney cat We  haven't, Dick, but you have. What's really sad is that you don't seem to care, while the rest of us are left holding the bag because of what you have wrought.

In addition, Cheney said that Adm. Dennis Blair, director of National Intelligence, had approved waterboarding because such techniques had provided us with a “deeper understanding of the al-Queda organization.” He conveniently left out Blair's further remarks: “...there is no way of knowing whether the same information could have been obtained through other means. The bottom line is that these techniques hurt our image around the world. The damage they have done to our interests far outweighs whatever benefits they gave us.”

Yes, Dick, your authorization of torture has damaged our perception around the world, and it could take a long time to repair it. This is the legacy you have left us, and left your country. So instead of putting your sneering mug out there in front of the cameras and trying to convince everyone that you did a good thing, that your actions saved lives, you need to shut the hell up, slink off like the mangy cur you are, and live out your remaining years in silence and much-deserved ignominy. You have disgraced yourself and your country, and your actions have led to the deaths of thousands of service personnel. You have no reason to be proud. You have every reason to be ashamed.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

To be continued

I was all fired up about today’s entry, gathering some quotes…then we ate dinner (barbecue sammitches, baked beans, and cole slaw), and that effectively quenched my fire.

Something to ponder: can revolutions take place on a full stomach?

Today’s entry called on account of satiety. Play will resume tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Golden Day!

Silver Squirrel Award First things first: congratulations to Laurel of Ramblings of a Route 66 Business Owner, for being the first to correctly guess that the plant on my last entry is poison ivy. Laurel has garnered her second Silver Squirrel, so she is a force to be reckoned with!

Unfortunately, in the front of our house, we have plenty of poison ivy. It's actually a very pretty and green plant, but it's evil! I'm not very allergic to it, and since we've moved here, I've only had one small spot on my arm; Ken hasn't been so lucky. He is highly susceptible to it, and on a couple of occasions, it has gone systemic on him and he's had to get a prescription for steroids. Most of the plants are on the ground, but we have a few impressive vines that climb high on the trees. Some of the leaves are larger than my hand. As much as we love nature, we've learned to be cautious of many things, and poison ivy is only one example. There are plenty of stinging insects, mosquitoes (and probably West Nile virus), ticks, you name it. (No snakes so far, knock on wood!)

It's all worth it, though, and we adapt and adjust, as I wrote about yesterday. We enjoyed sitting on the deck today, and you couldn't ask for a better day. Sunny and low 80's, not a cloud in the sky! Things are really getting green, and it's so lush out front now that I can't even see the Nutwood Hillbilly house across the road. Yay!

JMC18 We headed out on errands today, and it was so nice, we were able to have the top down on Ken's Mustang. AC/DC was in the CD player, and all was right with the world. We picked up the keys to his Mom and stepdad's apartment, and did a little inspection. There was some stuff tracked in, but no point in vacuuming it now, because we'll be tracking in lots more as we move everything in. I think we're good to go, and now we just need to have a successful move and trouble-free journey. I'm sorry that we won't get to spend much time on Route 66 on the way down, and a visit to Art's Motel for lunch will have to wait until our big Route 66 trip. Thank goodness we stopped at John's Modern Cabins last year, because I'm not sure they'll still exist when we do the whole road. So sad. No, that isn’t a picture of the in-laws’ new apartment…that is John’s Modern Cabins. Smart alecks.

Sorry I didn't do much commenting today. I didn't spend a lot of time in front of the computer! I'm sure you understand.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Going green…for real

For the past two days, when I took a shower, I cleaned out the drain afterwards, and I found pieces of leaves.

Either I'm picking them up while walking on the deck with bare feet, or I'm turning into a tree. That might not be a bad way to come back in a next life (although if I had my druthers, I'd be a house cat). Maybe I could hold a hummingbird nest!

[A Silver Squirrel Award to anyone who can identify the plant in this photo! Click on the photo to embiggen and get a better look.]

Ken is off tomorrow, and it's supposed to be warm and sunny in the afternoon. I foresee a little deck-sitting time in our future! We'll go pick up the keys to his Mom and stepdad's apartment tomorrow, and make sure everything looks good. I'll be relieved to get this move taken care of because I'm telling you...they are absolutely buggin'. His stepdad wants to pick up the truck on Saturday and start loading it. The guy uses a cane and has had a couple of back surgeries. I think Ken convinced him to leave the loading of the truck to us and another couple who will be helping. There will be no back injuries if we can help it! I was writing to Cousin Shane today, and said that I guess Ken and I (and my family is like this, too) take more of a que sera, sera attitude. We definitely plan ahead and try to take care of all possibilities, but there will always be unforeseen bumps in the road, and I think it's important to be able to adapt and adjust accordingly. As REO Speedwagon said, gotta roll with the changes!

I don't think I'm a fatalistic person, believing that the worst that can happen will. I'm much more optimistic than that. But I also know that we're going to get a few curve balls when we step up to bat, and we'd better be prepared to adjust when life changes it up on us. As my Mom likes to say, "It'll all work out in the wash." Maybe that's why I don't like drama. It serves no purpose other than to work yourself or others into a tizzy, and being in a tizzy doesn't bode well for figuring out a solution to the problem at hand. Right?

Award Honest Blogger Finally, a big thank you to Kristi of Rambling Woolysheep who has given me the Honest Blogger award. I thanked her for the award, but said that it was hard enough for me to come up with ten honest things about me the first time I received the award, so I was not going to be doing another ten! What she wrote about me was what really tickled me:

Beth DOES NOT, WILL NOT hold back an opinion. And she can take down snarkers with razor like wit and humor. But be warned she will fill up your updates box. She must just be able to think the words onto the page because I can't comprehend humans typing that fast.

That first line made me laugh! It's so true, but I really am trying to temper my opinionated self. I often hold back in real life, because in social situations, one does not create a stir, or an argument! I've written about how many in my family don't feel the same way I do about a lot of things, and in the interest of family harmony, I just don't go there. (We've got another situation coming up soon, with friends...I think I might have to take some duct tape along and place it over my own mouth.) However, this is my blog, and I will never hold back my opinion here. I try to be cool about it, but I think I make it pretty obvious how I feel about things. One of the things I feel very strongly about is censorship, and as with every other media, whether it's TV, radio, books, or music, no one is holding a gun to your head subjecting you to reading or listening. There is an off button, you can choose not to buy the book, you can change the radio station...and you can hit that big X and stop reading me if thine eye offends thee. Free will: it's a beautiful thing!

Monday, May 18, 2009

This is what peace and quiet sounds like

After all the hoo-raw yesterday, I am loving the sounds of silence. (Hello darkness, my old friend....) I haven't turned on the TV at all today, and I'm enjoying the absence of talking heads. I've been reading some of the reaction to yesterday, though, and it seems that there are some people who are actually a little disappointed that things didn't descend into madness. I suppose it would have made better news, but I'm so glad that things stayed relatively civil!

I think that what really got to me the most was that so many people chose to further their own agenda rather than let the graduates have their day of honor, as was their due. Obviously, things turned out okay, and I'm sure the Notre Dame class of 2009 will never forget their graduation! It really is a topnotch school, and a great accomplishment for them all. In the class which started four years ago, 95% of them graduated yesterday, a remarkable achievement matched only by Harvard and Princeton. For anyone who tried to take the focus off of them, I say "Shame on you! Shame, I say!"

Bulwer-Lytton Did you like my melodramatic scolding? That brings me to my next topic, and I think that was a fine segue, if I do say so myself. In the process of moving my favorite sites over to Chrome, I've had a chance to tidy up a bit and toss some that I don't use. I've also come across some old favorites that I hadn't visited for a while, and one of those is the site of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. I known I've written about it before, but it's been some time since I did. The BLFC is a chance for people around the world to submit a sentence that is over-the-top in its attempts to show what a great piece of writing it really is. We've all read some bad novels with some really really bad writing, and this is a chance for people to purposefully write something in that vein. It is firmly tongue-in-cheek. I had fun reading the 2008 winners and runners-up, and I think I might have to work on some bad writing of my own. You can submit multiple entries, and I think I'll have fun with this. There's plenty of time to submit--the deadline is April 15, 2010--and I'm looking forward to writing some really bad prose.

One of my favorites from a couple of years ago described a man as having eyes the color of Tidy-Bowl blue. I loved that, and have never forgotten it!

Google Chrome Have I mentioned Chrome here before? I know I did on Facebook, but I honestly can't keep up with what I write and where. I've had increasing problems with AOL, and I was getting fed up. I thought that all along, my browser was IE, and when AOL wouldn't allow me to get into my Twitter page, I sent a very frustrated email to my pal Milwaukee Dan #2. He knew what the problem was (thanks, Dan!) and it turns out that AOL was my browser. Apparently they haven't updated that for a long time, so it's becoming increasingly incompatible with new programs. I was shocked to find out that AOL was my browser. Shocked, I tell you! (I'm practicing for the BLFC.) I started using IE then, and moving some of my stuff over, but I'd been intrigued by Google's browser, Chrome. I had looked at some of the features, and thought it looked kind of nifty.

Dan said that he'd heard pretty good things about it, although he's happy with whatever he's using (Foxfire, I think?), so I asked our British friend Simon, who is a computer guy. Not just a guy who knows a lot about computers, it's actually what he does for a living. He actually has all the available browsers on his computer, because sometimes he has to change code in order to get it to work on all browsers. His favorite is Opera, but that doesn't work with Facebook, so he uses Chrome and likes it--and now so do I. It's very simple, and as he put it, uncluttered. I find it easy to create new tabs to open another site, and he said that Chrome is the only browser that he's never had to tweak code for, so it seems to be a friendly little browser, quite compatible and jolly! Ha! I still have IE, of course (and that's what Ken uses), but Chrome is now my default browser.

Kind of a cool name, too. I use Chrooooome, man. Okay, maybe not. Just another step in Google's nefarious plot to take over the world. I'd say you're doing pretty well with your plot when your name becomes a verb. Maybe one day you'll be able to say that you've been Bethed.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Breathing a sigh of relief

Touchdown Jesus After months of buzz, discussion, and unfortunately, controversy, my fellow South Bend residents and I can finally relax.

Or maybe not. I'm hearing on the local news now that some of the out-of-town protesters plan on sticking around for a while. Well, isn't that special?

But at least for the remainder of the day, we can rest easy knowing that everything went off without any major hitches, and that our President received a very warm welcome from our city and from the Notre Dame community. There were more arrests yesterday and today. Alan Keyes got out on bond yesterday, because a judge was available to hear his case. The first arrest today was Norma McCorvey, the woman also known as Jane Roe, the plaintiff in Roe v. Wade. Protesters were not arrested unless they entered campus, and a few hundred lined the streets approaching campus. Apparently the President's motorcade took the back way, depriving all those protesters of their chance to yell at the limousine. Early reports indicate (and I'll try to confirm this) that of everyone arrested, only one was from our community. The rest came in from out of town. I think that speaks volumes.

The valedictorian was a remarkable young woman who is going on to Harvard to attend medical school. She has been to Cambodia and Haiti and I believe embodies President Obama's call to service. I wrote to my friend Dan that I envisioned the President sitting there listening to her speech, thinking, "Now THAT'S what I'm talkin' about!"

Father Jenkins gave a great opening speech and a great introduction for the President, speaking of his efforts and philosophies concerning community organization and service, all things that are part of the Catholic faith and part of Notre Dame. I think he made a great case for why he invited the President, and I think his decision will prove to have been a good one. Of course, "dialogue" wouldn't happen during the speeches given today, but this has certainly brought to the forefront the need for civil discussion about issues, rather than mindless and inflammatory protesting.

The President started his speech with humor, talking about how it's not all that easy to come by honorary degrees, and that as President, he's one for two. Great line! He addressed the controversy head on, and spoke of the need to find common ground and create the opportunity for mutually respectful discussion. He also honored Father Theodore Hesburgh, someone who is legendary in Notre Dame history, by speaking of his efforts in the civil rights movement of the sixties. I'm sure it was gratifying for Father Hesburgh to see Obama's election, and to see him speak at his beloved Notre Dame, despite all the calls for the invitation to be rescinded, or for Obama to decline. (Father Hesburgh supported Obama's invitation, by the way.)

Notre Dame logo I think the true star of today's commencement was the class of 2009, who handled themselves with class and dignity, whether they supported the President's visit or not. Those who protested did so respectfully and they conducted themselves with honor. When protesters (not from our area and not students) began to shout during the beginning of the President's speech, the graduates shouted them down with chants of "We are ND!" And ultimately, this was about their achievement in graduating from one of the premier universities in the country. Shame on those who would try to take that away from these graduates in order to further their own agenda. I say congratulations to these graduates (and all graduates...good job!), congratulations to President Obama on a great speech, and congratulations to Father John Jenkins for having the guts to stick by his invitation and for taking all the heat that he has.

We could hear Air Force One when it took off from our airport, but didn't get a glimpse. We thought it might fly close enough by that we could see it. I told Ken, "They must have the Cloaking Device on." Haha!

One more thing, and then I think--I hope--that this will be done with. I got a comment from a guy named Steve, and Steve, I salute you for providing your name and not being Anonymous! Not everyone has the balls to do that, so good for you. I do need to address a couple of things, though. I see from your profile and your blog that you voted for Alan Keyes in the 2008 presidential election, and it looks as though you were his VP candidate at some point, if I understand you correctly.

You know, I really don't think I need to say anything else about that.

You also write:

Notre Dame didn't have to call in the civil authorities. Alan Keyes is a Catholic and he came to witness in accordance with his faith. Norma McCorvey is a Catholic, and she too could not take the kind of "I don't care" attitude you explicitly adopt regarding disingenious [sic] judicial reasoning.

Well, Steve, I think that's where a lot of people and protesters such as we saw the past few weeks get into trouble. You see, as private property, the University of Notre Dame has every right to deny people access to their campus. If protesters stayed outside campus, they were not bothered by either the university or the city police. However, they were told clearly that they were not to trespass on university property, and when they did so, they were arrested. It's the same concept of our private property here at Nutwood. I don't care if you're Catholic, Calvinist, Hindu, Zoroastrian, or a Satanist, if you come marching onto our property with a sign, I have the right to tell you to get out. If you do not do so, or if you come back, I have the right to call the police and have them remove you by any means necessary from our property. Your religion doesn't matter. Get it? You could be the Grand High Poobah of Bumfuck, Egypt, and I could still have your ass hauled away for trespassing on our private property. A person's religion does not confer a right to trespass. There is no ambiguity whatsoever there.