Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Fighting with the Post Office

Another flashback here of sorts. After moving into the new home, it took quite awhile to get our mail forwarded. Well, here's the story...

I had to talk to about five people at the Post Office over the last two weeks, trying to find out when we were going to start getting mail at the new house (we'd been moved in for three weeks) before a Supervisor finally told me that I was going to have to go to our new Post Office and physically pick up our mail that had been forwarded from our old apartment address. Oh! I thought the Post Office delivered mail. Silly me!

Turns out the PO won't deliver our mail until a cluster box is installed on our property. But we didn't know that. Our builder hadn't told us that. In fact, our builder had attached mailboxes to each of the three townhomes, as if we were going to actually get mail there, and so we would periodically, anxiously, increasingly frustratingly, peek into them to see ... nada.

The PO Super that finally called me back said cluster boxes were supposed to be installed this week. This is actually a good thing, because the mailbox the builder attached to the house doesn't lock and so anyone passing by - and there does seem to be an interesting assortment and number of people "passing by" - could nab our mail. One of them already absconded with my tool box, on the day after we moved in! Welcome to the neighborhood! No worries, however. The old tool box was full of old rusted shit that I hadn't gotten rid of in years. Time for a new start! Look on the bright side and all.

(Turns out, a neighbor has told us that the house that was on the property before ours was built was this huge antebellum mansion type home that had been left to disrepair because the owner had died. Slowly, the abandoned home became a haven for drug dealers and a shooting gallery. Eventually, it became a crack house. So, maybe all these people passing by the house are still looking for the crack house. Wonderful!)

At least with a cluster box, our mail is safe from the gypsies, tramps and thieves. And it will only be a short walk to the corner to the cluster box. AND, the box will be facing the street with our address (it's a north-south street), which will help visitors to know that they are in the right place after all. You see, our front windows and driveway faces the east-west street. In fact, all three of the townhomes driveways face the east-west street, looking north. But the addresses are all on the north-south street, looking east. How f*cked up is that? So far, everyone except UPS has had trouble finding us. Heckuva job, Brownie!

According to the PO Super, all new construction uses cluster boxes. Period. Makes sense. I just happened to be driving in the Mustang with the top down on a gorgeous December day a few blocks away from the PO where they were holding our mail when he called me, so I just zipped right in. Maybe they should consider a "drive-thru" lane.

And let's hear it for mobile phones, because the phone company, AT&T, still can't seem to get it together to get us landline telephones. But that's another story. If it ain't one thing ....

Anyway, a week or so after picking up mail for the first time, I went back to the Post Office to pick up mail again, because our cluster box was still not installed, and the postal worker checks on her computer and says, "Your mail has been delivered to your mail box."

"What mail box?" I asked. "We're still waiting for the Post Office to install a cluster box."

"It's being delivered to your cluster box," she replied, with an air of impatience.

I hesitated. "But, where is that? There's still no cluster box in the ground."

She looks again in the computer and says, "It's in the 200 block of ____."

"You're kidding? There? We thought they were going to put it on the street where our address was."

"It's there!" she barked, obviously impatient now.

"Well," I said, "if that's the case, can I get the key to it? The Supervisor said that once the box was installed, they'd call me, which they didn't do, and I could come and pick up the key for it."

"I have the key," she mumbles, "but I need to see your drivers license and the closing documents on your home before I can give it to you."

"The closing documents? You're kidding, right?"

That was not the right thing to say. She rolled her eyes, turned around, headed for the door to the back, and almost yelled, "You need to bring your closing documents!"

I stood there stunned for a minute, looking at the other people in line, some of who were rolling their eyes and smirking. I stood there, wondering if she was going to come back. After a couple of minutes, she hadn't returned, so I left, went home and pulled out my closing documents.

Once I got back to the Post Office, I had the misfortune of getting the same worker again behind the counter, and I told her I'd just been there, got a new cluster box, yadda yadda, and I now had the closing documents, and I needed the key to the box.

"I was going to give you the key," she sassed, "but you left!"

"Hey, I waited a couple of minutes for you to come back! You said I needed to bring you my closing documents, so I went and got them. You didn't say you were going to give me the key anyway," I fumed, now getting pissed.

"I'll get the Supervisor," she hisses, and walks away again. After a minute, the Super comes out and, not even asking for the closing documents, looks at my drivers license and gives me the key.


So, our cluster box is a full block away from our home. It is not on our corner, not even on our block, where people looking for our house might see the box with the address on it and know they are in the right place. It's way the hell over there, in a cluster box with another housing complex entirely. Logical, eh?

One day I was fetching the mail and the mail carrier was coming by. We got to talking about my adventure and he tells me that there are TWO mail carriers that deliver to that one cluster box (which has only eight boxes on it). This is yet another example of the inefficiency of our post office. No wonder the costs keep going up. Incompetence gets expensive.

Livin' in America!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

John Conyers interview 1/27/07 from D.C.

Thanks to YouTube and Crooks and Liars for the videos. And thanks to all the true patriots that showed up at the rally.
Rep. John Conyers spoke to for a few minutes at the Iraq War protest in Washington, DC on Jan. 27, 2007

Video from the D.C. rally today, Jan 27, 2007

PoliticsTV filmed the Iraq War protest and march in Washington, DC on Saturday, January 27, 2007. Comments from Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Sean Penn, Rep. Conyers, Rep. Nadler, Rep. Waters and Tom Andrews from Win Without War

Mother Jones: Iraq War Timeline-Lie by Lie

Mother Jones magazine has put together an amazing compendium of the march to war in Iraq, built on lies, corruption, distortions and fabrications. Do you think that we as Earthlings will EVER get to a point where there will be no more war? I mean, without destroying ourselves or our planet. The history of this planet does not lend much confidence. But there's always hope.

Here's just a snippet from the Mother Jones timeline. Click the link below and weep...

March 8, 2003 - Halliburton is awarded a $7 billion reconstruction contract over the objections of Army Corps of Engineers procurement officer Bunnatine Greenhouse. Testifying before Congress, she later calls the contract "the most blatant and improper contract abuse I have witnessed." She is demoted in short order.

March 27, 2003 - Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz tells Congress that Iraq's oil revenues "could bring between $50 and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years... We're dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon."

Ever find yourself forgetting how we got into Iraq? Look here:

More from Christmas 2006

A few more artsy pics of our blue Christmas tree...

Finally, a little too close up, but, again, ya gotta love the blue...

Friday, January 26, 2007

Christmas 2006

This past Christmas we decided to stay in town and my parents visited from out of state. We recently bought a new house, so it was a chance for my parents to visit and see the new place at the same time. Here's a shot of the tree (some of it) from the north windows looking south into the house. It's obvious that I'm no professional photographer.

We bought some new lights for the tree (it seems like we buy lights every year, but we don't throw any away ... so, where are they all?)

Since we're Democrats, I decided that our tree would be in ALL blue lights this year. No red lights allowed. Red just pollutes the atmosphere, so to speak. Better dead than red.

We found a new kind of light this year. LED's. Maybe they've been around before this year, but we'd never seen them. They give off a really nice glowing light, bigger and brighter than your typical, traditional lights. Look for them in stores next time around. They make several colors, but we are a little partial to blue. We're glad we're on the blue team.

It was cold this year at Christmas, but not as bad as last year. We had snow on Christmas Day last year, a couple of inches, which is very unusual for this area. Still, this year, it was pretty cold, so we gathered round the HD TV Yule channel.

Tried a few tricks with the digital camera and the blue Christmas tree. Some interesting shots. Might just try to turn them into some art some day.

You don't want to hear about the interpersonal drama between the family at Christmas. Just suffice it to say that we all got together for the holidays. It can, however, be hard work. But it's worth it.

List Change - 10 Things to Ponder for 2007

Old list here. Newer list over there. ->


#10 Life is sexually transmitted.

#9 Good health is merely the slowest rate at which one can die

#8 Men have two emotions: Hungry and Horny. If you see him without an erection, make him a sandwich.

#7 Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day; teach a person to use the internet and they won't bother you for weeks.

#6 Some people are like a slinky... not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs.

#5 Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in the hospital dying of nothing

#4 All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.

#3 Why does a slight tax increase cost you two hundred dollars, and a substantial tax cut saves you thirty cents???

#2 In the 60's, people took LSD to make the world weird. Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.


We know exactly where one cow with mad-cow-disease is located among the millions and millions of cows in America , but we haven't a clue as to where thousands of Illegal immigrants and Terrorists are located……..Maybe we should put the Department of Agriculture in charge of immigration.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Solidarity Forever

Video Description

Solidarity Forever sung by Pete Seeger & The Weavers, with old photographs of the labor movement in US History.This is a tribute to all the workers who sacrificed to make a better world for their children and grand children.

Personal Message

Say goodbye to the blog, "Confined Space." Click on this link for the final post:

Copyright © 2007 YouTube, Inc.

Randy Newman's got a new tune

I have to agree with Randy here. George W. Bush is the worst President we've ever had, but he's certainly not the worst "leader" ever to have existed on this planet. Gotta try to keep things in perspective, although it's hard when we have to hear and see this dolt practically every day.

I still wonder how in the world did this "greatest nation on earth" end up getting saddled with this spoiled frat-rat bully? Are we as Americans just too lazy to really give a damn about what happens, and gave him an opening? He lied and lied and lied along the campaign trail, and our compliant, complicit media went along with it, trashing both Gore and Kerry along the way. If we truly had a "liberal media" in this country, this would not have happened.

No one really expected Bush to steal his way into the White House. We didn't really expect the Supreme Court to go along with this clown. Bush's reign of error should be a warning sign that very powerful interests are loose in this country, and we have to remember that this nation was created for the people, of the people, and by the people, not the filthy spoiled rich. Or at least I hope not.

Oh yeah, Randy Newman has a new tune coming out...Thanks to my sister in Colorado for pointing me towards this one...

State of the Union: Another Take


Randy Newman, the singer, songwriter and composer, performed this song at Carnegie Hall in 2006. It will be released soon online. This is an abridged version.

A Few Words in Defense of Our Country
By Randy Newman

I’d like to say a few words
In defense of our country
Whose people aren’t bad nor are they mean
Now the leaders we have
While they’re the worst that we’ve had
Are hardly the worst this poor world has seen

Let’s turn history’s pages, shall we?

Take the Caesars for example
Why within the first few of them
They had split Gaul into three parts
Fed the Christians to the lions
And burned down the City
And one of ’em
Appointed his own horse Consul of the Empire
That’s like vice president or something
That’s not a very good example, is it?
But wait, here’s one, the Spanish Inquisition
They put people in a terrible position

I don’t even like to think about it
Well, sometimes I like to think about it

Just a few words in defense of our country
Whose time at the top
Could be coming to an end
Now we don’t want their love
And respect at this point is pretty much out of the question
But in times like these
We sure could use a friend

Hitler. Stalin.
Men who need no introduction
King Leopold of Belgium. That’s right.
Everyone thinks he’s so great
Well he owned The Congo
He tore it up too
He took the diamonds, he took the gold
He took the silver
Know what he left them with?

A president once said,
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”
Now it seems like we’re supposed to be afraid
It’s patriotic in fact and color coded
And what are we supposed to be afraid of?
Why, of being afraid
That’s what terror means, doesn’t it?
That’s what it used to mean

The end of an empire is messy at best
And this empire is ending
Like all the rest
Like the Spanish Armada adrift on the sea
We’re adrift in the land of the brave
And the home of the free
Goodbye. Goodbye. Goodbye.

published in the NYT

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Good review of Bush's 7th SOTU from Alternet

Bush's SOTU: Nixon Would Have Been Proud
By Joshua Holland, AlterNet. Posted January 24, 2007.

Bush's seventh State of the Union speech was loaded with proposals that will go nowhere and had little relationship with reality. So much for hoping that a 28 percent approval rating would teach him anything.

The first 30 minutes focused on domestic issues. He said the "economy is on the move" and touted 41 months of job growth, even as new data released last week shows that income inequality is rising to "unprecedented" levels.

He called for a balanced budget -- the Fox camera caught new Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel laughing out loud -- and for earmark reform a week after the Dems passed a bill doing just that. He talked about "entitlement reform," saying that Social Security needed to be "saved" -- a narrative that economist Dean Baker calls Bush's "Social Security WMD story."

He told a nation with over 40 million people who lack health insurance that -- aside from poor children and the elderly -- "private health insurance is the best way to meet their needs." The centerpiece of his speech, if there was one, was a proposal for a standardized tax deduction of $7,500 for singles and $15,000 for families that would allow them to purchase a "basic private healthcare policy" -- code for the cheap, high-deductible plans that accompany those health savings accounts he's proposed in the past. It sounds good, but it's a nonstarter -- the tax credits would discourage younger, healthier people from buying decent coverage -- taking them out of the risk pool and increasing rates for everyone else -- and provide a disincentive for preventive care. American Prospect writer Ezra Klein called it "almost laughably wrongheaded," and said it "won't survive an instant in Congress. Pete Stark, chair of the House Health Subcommittee, has already dismissed the idea of hearings." It was, like the rest, much ado about nothing.

On energy, he said that technology would ultimately wean us from our addiction to oil just one day after a high-powered group of business leaders, called the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, declared that inventing new technology isn't enough.
His proposal to increase mileage standards and reduce gas consumption by 20 percent over the next ten years -- the Fox News commentators said, "one might wonder if such a thing is even possible" -- is certainly a good idea. But this is an administration that is joined at the hip with Big Oil. Bush has opposed raising fuel efficiency standards for his entire political career, most recently last February; does anyone believe that such a proposal won't go the way of his War on Steroids in Baseball or his plan to land a man on Mars -- those ghosts of SOTUs past?

It was clear that he wanted to focus on domestic issues; just weeks after proposing an escalation of troops in Iraq that two-thirds of Americans oppose, he all but shouted, "for the love of God, can we please change the subject!" By my rough reckoning, he spent about eight minutes on the "War on Terror" and another six on Iraq, dodging between the two in his usual way.

He said, "We did not drive al Qaeda out of their safe haven in Afghanistan only to let them set up a new safe haven in a free Iraq." While the Taliban are busy building schools in Afghanistan, he was right about al Qaeda; we drove them out of Afghanistan so they could set up a new safe haven in Pakistan.

The highlight of the evening's discourse was when Bush said, "Free people are not drawn to violent and malignant ideologies." And there was Dick Cheney, smirking over the president's shoulder and disproving the claim even as he uttered it.

We face the twin demons of Sunni and Shiite extremists, said the president, who will come from "all directions" and take over the whole of Iraq if we withdraw. He blamed Iran for supporting those Shiite extremists -- a somewhat questionable charge -- and al Qaeda for aiding their Sunni counterparts; as we've come to expect in Bush's speeches, there was no mention of his Saudi friends who are reportedly financing the very insurgents responsible for the majority of U.S. deaths.

Of his escalation plan, he said: "Our military commanders and I have carefully weighed the options. We discussed every possible approach. In the end, I chose this course of action because it provides the best chance of success." Left unsaid was that he had fired those generals who disagreed. His plan garnered only scattered applause from the Republicans, while the Dems sat on their hands.

Among the noteworthy aspects of the speech was what was left out. As the AP noted, "Hurricane-ravaged New Orleans, La., still is a mess, and the pace of recovery across the Gulf Coast from Hurricane Katrina's strike remains achingly slow after 17 months. But none of this captured President George W. Bush's attention on the year's biggest night for showcasing policy priorities."

To be fair to the president, it didn't really matter what he said; Americans are fully aware of the state of our union. Polls this week paint a grim picture of a nation that has lost confidence in its leaders. Seven out of ten Americans say the country is headed on the wrong track. A record 64 percent call the Iraq war a mistake, more than at any time during Vietnam, and "for the first time more than half of Americans, 52 percent, say the United States should withdraw its forces to avoid further U.S. casualties, even if civil order hasn't been restored." More than half think the economy's getting worse, and less than a third of the country thinks Bush "shares their priorities." He might as well have gone up there and admitted that he had nothing.

Ultimately, the best thing about this State of the Union was the end -- Miller Time -- and with it, the knowledge that we'll only have to suffer through one more.

Joshua Holland is an AlterNet staff writer.

Spoof of the SOTU

Video Description

James Adomian is back with his fantastic Bush impression and another pre-emptive satirical strike on this year's State of the Union address. And the Democratic response at the end is hilarious!

Written by James Adomian
Directed by David Guy Levy

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

List Change - What is Humanism?

Time to change the list again. So, in the one-week-long tradition of my blog, the list moves to here and the new list will be coming up soon. Peace to you and yours, and Iraq.

What is Humanism? The following are common ideas held by both Religious and Secular Humanists:

1. Humanism is one of those philosophies for people who think for themselves. There is no area of thought that a Humanist is afraid to challenge and explore.

2. Humanism is a philosophy focused upon human means for comprehending reality. Humanists make no claims to possess or have access to supposed transcendent knowledge.

3. Humanism is a philosophy of reason and science in the pursuit of knowledge. Therefore, when it comes to the question of the most valid means for acquiring knowledge of the world, Humanists reject arbitrary faith, authority, revelation, and altered states of consciousness.

4. Humanism is a philosophy of imagination. Humanists recognize that intuitive feelings, hunches, speculation, flashes of inspiration, emotion, altered states of consciousness, and even religious experience, while not valid means to acquire knowledge, remain useful sources of ideas that can lead us to new ways of looking at the world. These ideas, after they have been assessed rationally for their usefulness, can then be put to work, often as alternate approaches for solving problems.

5. Humanism is a philosophy for the here and now. Humanists regard human values as making sense only in the context of human life rather than in the promise of a supposed life after death.

6. Humanism is a philosophy of compassion. Humanist ethics is solely concerned with meeting human needs and answering human problems--for both the individual and society--and devotes no attention to the satisfaction of the desires of supposed theological entities.

7. Humanism is a realistic philosophy. Humanists recognize the existence of moral dilemmas and the need for careful consideration of immediate and future consequences in moral decision making.

8. Humanism is in tune with the science of today. Humanists therefore recognize that we live in a natural universe of great size and age, that we evolved on this planet over a long period of time, that there is no compelling evidence for a separable "soul," and that human beings have certain built-in needs that effectively form the basis for any human-oriented value system.

9. Humanism is in tune with today's enlightened social thought. Humanists are committed to civil liberties, human rights, church-state separation, the extension of participatory democracy not only in government but in the workplace and education, an expansion of global consciousness and exchange of products and ideas internationally, and an open-ended approach to solving social problems, an approach that allows for the testing of new alternatives.

10. Humanism is in tune with new technological developments. Humanists are willing to take part in emerging scientific and technological discoveries in order to exercise their moral influence on these revolutions as they come about, especially in the interest of protecting the environment.

11. Humanism is, in sum, a philosophy for those in love with life. Humanists take responsibility for their own lives and relish the adventure of being part of new discoveries, seeking new knowledge, exploring new options. Instead of finding solace in prefabricated answers to the great questions of life, Humanists enjoy the open-endedness of a quest and the freedom of discovery that this entails.

Well-known humanists:

Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood and 1957 Humanist of the Year
Humanistic psychology pioneers Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow
Albert Einstein, who joined the American Humanist Association in the 1950s
Bertrand Russell, who joined in the 1960s
Civil rights pioneer A. Philip Randoph who was the 1970 Humanist of the Year
Futurist R. Buckminister Fuller, Humanist of the Year in 1969
Julian Huxley, the first Director General of UNESCO, the UN organization promoting education, science, and culture - Humanist of the Year 1962.
Brock Chisholm, the first Director-General of the World Health Organization - 1959 Humanist of the Year.
Brit John Boyd Orr, the first Director-General of the Food and Agricultural Organization.
Andrei Sakharov, 1980 Humanist of the Year.
Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem
Margaret Atwood
Stephen Jay Gould
Donald Johanson
Richard Leakey
E.O. Wilson
Francis Crick

Jonas Salk
Author Isaac Asimov

A-Cruising We Will Go!

This coming Sunday, the wife and I will take our very first cruise ever. Long overdue. And we're going to marry our love of contemporary jazz with our love of the Caribbean by going on the All-Star Smooth Jazz Cruise out of Galveston.

Our host is Brian Culbertson, who has been one of my favorites for a long while now.

With very special guest Boney James, one of my favorite sax players!

And then there will be many, many other musicians on board, among them Craig Chaquico, Down to the Bone, Norman Brown, Candy Dulfer, Nick Colionne, Paul Taylor and many, many more.
The wife has a habit of motion-sickness (yikes!) so we have procured some of the dramamine (or whatever they are) patches. She'll probably do fine. I'll probably be the one to get green.
So, in other words, this blog will probably be a little dark over our cruise. However, they say they will have an internet cafe set up on board. Dial-up speeds? Not sure how much of the cruise I'm going to want to spend poring over a computer keyboard. Hey, anyone have a good suggestion for a book to read while on board? No politics, please. This is supposed to be a vacation.

First stop, after two days at sea, is Montego Bay, Jamaica (been there, done that!),

Next stop is Grand Cayman (never been there) for some snorkeling,

and finally, before returning home, Cozumel (been there) (beautiful).

We're pumped!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

List Change - Quotes from Albert Einstein

This is my way of changing my "Latest List."

I take all the items and put them in a post, with labels, so that I can recall them later, if desired.

Say adios to Albert Einstein, a great scientist and humanist of his time.

Quotes from Albert Einstein:

Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of genius, a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.

When his wife asked him to change clothes to meet the German Ambassador: "If they want to see me here I am. If they want to see my clothes, open my closet and show them my suits."

I don't believe in Mathematics

Intellectuals solve problems; geniuses prevent them.

Imagination is more important than knowledge.

Sign hanging in Einstein's office at Princeton: Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts.

We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.

I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.

It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.

Bob Ney (R-OH) sentenced to 30 months in prison

Hmmm....if the sentence for defrauding someone were 30 months in jail, then, if a Congressman perpetrated a fraud on the 10 million people in Ohio (I'm guessing at Ohio's population), then why not sentence the offender to 30 months TIMES 10 MILLION? In other words, life in prison for violating the public trust. Now THAT might be a deterrent to corruption in Washington. Might.

The lawmaker (Ney) agreed to push legislation helpful to Abramoff clients including Indian tribes and a foreign beverage distiller. He agreed to help Al-Zayat get a visa to enter the United States and a legislative exemption to laws barring the sale of U.S.-made airplanes and parts to a foreign country.

Abramoff, once an influential lobbyist, is the star witness in an FBI corruption investigation that has shaken Capitol Hill. He is serving six years in a Maryland federal prison in a fraudulent Florida casino deal.

Ney’s sentencing is the latest development in a long-running investigation that so far has yielded convictions of several former congressional aides and two members of the Bush administration _ David Safavian and Robert Stillwell.

Among those still under scrutiny for their ties to Abramoff are former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas; former Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont.; Rep. John Doolittle, R-Calif.; Steven Griles, a former deputy secretary at the Interior Department, and Italia Federici, a political fundraiser for former Interior Secretary Gale Norton.

January 20, 2007 - Arbor Day in Houston

I know that different areas of the country observe Arbor Day at different times. In fact, the national holiday is celebrated every year on the last Friday in April. In Houston, this year, it's today, January 20.

We went to the Urban Harvest for their annual huge Tree Sale early this morning, but not early enough. By the time we got there - ok, it started at 8am and we arrived at 9:30am, there was already a line of about 500 people waiting to buy a fruit tree, or two, or three. It's really great seeing sooooo many people wanting to plant trees, but hey...One of the staff I talked to said this was the biggest crowd she'd ever seen. (there is a ton of good gardening tips here)

The crowd at the Urban Harvest Tree Sale was so big, we decided to leave and get over to the Houston Arboretum for their tree giveaway from 10am-4pm. Good thing we got there at 10:05am, because we took the last parking space. By the time we left, with our new mayhaw and tupelo tree seedlings, the cars were lined up almost out to Memorial Drive, waiting to get in, and if you know anything about this area, you know that is a LOT of cars.

Link to the Arboretum -

Since we got the new house and all, we need some trees and shrubs and such. A friend of ours who is a Master Gardener suggested that, of the trees that the Arboretum was giving away this year - several oaks, a few pines, the mayhaw and tupelo - the mayhaw would be great for us. Beautiful white flowers in spring and a red fruit that can be turned into all kinds of things. We'll see.

Some interesting information on how Arbor Day got it's start, back in 1872, by Nebraskan J. Sterling Morton (a Democrat) - the Secretary of Agriculture under President Grover Cleveland Alexander.

And, of course, you should consult Wikipedia -

We plan on planting both the mayhaw (here's a pic of the fruit)...

and tupelo in our front yard.

Fight global warming! Plant a tree!!

French masterpieces coming to Houston

Kinda cool. We don't have to go to New York to the Met or to Paris to the Musée d'Orsay, but only about 20 blocks from our house.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is the sole venue in the United States for this sweeping exhibition of French masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The exhibition will present 135 works from New York´s Metropolitan Museum´s treasured collection of French painting. The Metropolitan Museum´s French masterpieces are among the best in the world, and are by the greatest artists active in France between 1800 and 1920, with many, such as Ingres, Corot, Courbet, Delacroix, Millet, Monet, Degas, Cézanne, Renoir, Van Gogh, Matisse, and Picasso, represented by multiple works.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Pandora loves music

Thanks for brother Mark for turning me onto this excellent website that lets you select an artist or song you like and their software compiles a "radio station", or list, of similar songs. Now, if I could just remember what the NAME of that song was, or even WHO did it?!?!

Haha - Methodist ministers don't want Bush library at SMU

Bush is (allegedly) a Methodist. I have little doubt, however, that he uses religion as a convenience, a mere cover, to garner votes.

Jan. 19, 2007, 12:34AM
Clergy protest Bush libraryLink to SMU 'inappropriate,' say Methodist ministers in an online petition

Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle Dallas Bureau

DALLAS — A group of Methodist ministers launched a petition drive Thursday asking church members to pressure Southern Methodist University to drop its bid for George W. Bush's presidential library.

''As United Methodists, we believe that the linking of his presidency with a university bearing the Methodist name is utterly inappropriate," the online petition states.

Organizers who are looking for support among the church's 11 million members say they object to the war in Iraq, the use of torture on prisoners and the death penalty, among other issues.

"What this (petition) will show is there are a lot of Methodists out there who don't wish to give him the gift of our good name because he doesn't deserve it," said the Rev. Andrew Weaver of Brooklyn, N.Y.

"Bush has not been willing to speak with Methodist bishops about the war, but he will meet with Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. Why now is he choosing a Methodist school for his library and think tank?" asked Weaver, who graduated from SMU's Perkins School of Theology.

But Bush told a Belo Corp. television reporter in Washington that he is "leaning heavily toward" locating the library at SMU.

"I understand there are some who have reservations," Bush said. "And my advice to them is, understand that a library and institution would enhance education, be a place for interesting discussion and be a place for people to express their views and write and think, and these universities I think understand that and are excited about the prospects, and so am I."

Brad Cheves, SMU's vice president for development and external affairs, said the library has become a focal point for criticism of the Bush presidency.

"These are contentious times with all that has happened," he said.

Cheves said the school's supporters, "this campus, the university community," trustees and administrators back the school's effort to land the Bush complex, which will include a library, museum and public policy institute.

The school's 40-member board has backed the library bid. Trustees include three Methodist bishops and two members of the clergy. Half of the board is Methodist, he said.

The United Methodist Church approves the board of trustees every four years at a general assembly meeting, the next one to be held in 2008.

Cheves said the structure, which delegates "all operational authority" to the board, maintains the university's independence and secular nature.

SMU emerged as the lone finalist in a competition among several Texas universities for the library when the site-selection committee said last month that it was entering into further discussions with the 11,000-student, private university.

Since then, a group of 68 faculty members has complained that the library complex's public policy institute dedicated to the Bush administration's views would hurt the school's reputation.
At a faculty meeting Wednesday, SMU President Gerald Turner said the library's benefits would increase the school's visibility nationwide, and he predicted that political passions surrounding the project would fade.

The names of 10 former and current Methodist bishops and several ministers and lay people appear at the bottom of the ministers' petition on the Web site

By Thursday afternoon, more than 3,000 others had signed the electronic petition, including a smattering of people who expressed support for the president and jokers who signed names such as Osama bin Laden and My Pet Goat.

Lyle Wedemeyer, who described himself as a Methodist from Minneapolis, wrote, "I totally object to the affiliation of an open-minded denomination with a close-minded conservative radical like George W. Bush."

But Paul Mead Taggert, who said he was a Methodist from Lakeland, Fla., posted the message: "I find this petition appalling. You are doing Satan's work."

Diane Moreland, who did not give a hometown, wrote, "As a lifelong Methodist, I have always felt that our denomination believes in peace and this president has wasted thousands of lives and billions of dollars fighting an unjustifiable war."

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Groundhog Day + SOTU

This year, both Groundhog Day and the State of the Union address occur on the same day. As Air America Radio pointed out, "It is an ironic juxtaposition of events: one involves a meaningless ritual in which we look to a creature of little intelligence for prognostication while the other involves a groundhog."

Ok, so I still like Al Gore

Apparently, so do a lot of other people...(someday I'll figure out how to use quotes)

Another chance for Gore?
By Scot Lehigh, Globe Columnist January 16, 2007

THE PRESIDENTIAL primary campaign is now underway, and though neither has yet declared, the Democratic main event is already being framed as a contest between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Each, however, comes with sizable drawbacks.

Although Clinton has proved herself a highly capable senator, worries abound about her electability. And then there's the recurring query that worried Democrats whisper to each another: Is Bill behaving?

Obama certainly qualifies as the next new thing, and as his December visit to New Hampshire demonstrated, he has generated real excitement at the grass roots. And yet, in the age of terrorism, it will be a tall test for a first-term senator with no real Washington accomplishments to convince the country that he's ready to be commander in chief.

That dynamic of doubt is sparking renewed interested in Al Gore.

"More and more people are asking, 'What about Al Gore?' " says Steve Grossman, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. "If Al Gore were to announce for president, he would be a first-tier candidate on day one. Instead of it being Hillary and Obama on the covers of the national magazines, you would have three faces there."

The Internet activists would turn cyberspace into a potent fund-raising realm for Gore if he does decide to get in, Grossman predicts.

Publicly, Gore hasn't ruled out running, but neither has he evinced much interest.

But when one friend asked him recently about another campaign, Gore didn't dismiss the question out of hand. "We'll see how things go," he replied.

Another Democratic source says that in recent weeks, the former vice president's camp has quietly put out feelers to presidential politicos, asking whether they are committed for 2008.

The passage of time has a way of putting things and people in perspective, and six-plus years after he won the national popular vote but lost the presidency by half a whisker in Florida, Gore looks good.

While other candidates boast of the international expertise they have acquired in the Senate, Gore, as Bill Clinton's number two, was actually there executing foreign policy in the White House. And unlike the other hopefuls who claim foreign policy credentials, he issued a clear and forceful warning about the dangers of rushing to war with Iraq, arguing that launching an invasion, particularly one undertaken largely on our own, would hurt our ability to win the larger war on terror.

"He has a very compelling theme: I was a guy who could see what was up ahead of us," says one national strategist. "And if ever there was a time when we needed a president who was sure-footed, it is now."

Nor is it just on Iraq that Gore can say, I told you so.

Global warming has finally arrived as an important issue for the government of seemingly every first world nation except our own. Gore has highlighted those concerns for decades -- and last year, the release of "An Inconvenient Truth" brought both his issue and his efforts into sharp national focus, helping make climate change dinner-table talk.

He is, then, a man who can rightly claim to have been prescient on two matters of international magnitude.

Short-listed for an Oscar, "An Inconvenient Truth" surely deserves one.

And with a book, "The Assault on Reason" -- an exploration of the way US political culture has grown hostile to fact-based decision-making -- due out in May, Gore will attract even more notice.

Now, I was not a particular fan of Gore's 2000 campaign, an effort that struck me, by turns, as bare-knuckled, pedantic, and off-putting, with an oddly conceived message.

But in leaving public office, Gore may well have found his authentic voice, speaking with a no-nonsense bluntness and ironic humor that has been refreshing.

Some fear he could lose his much-admired status if he runs and loses again, thereby adding a third failed presidential campaign to his personal history.

"I think there would be a big chance of becoming Harold Stassen," says Bob Somerby, one of Gore's college roommates. "The way things are now, he lives on as the guy who won, but didn't get to serve."

But the potential rewards surely outweigh the risks.

As Democrats eye the White House, Gore is a could-be candidate who combines experience, knowledge, and ability in compelling proportions. In a field that lacks a truly convincing figure, that combination would make him a formidable candidate if he decides to run.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

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why is america #1?

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Silly vid.

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Funny laugh

You gotta play this one for a couple of minutes before they mic Uncle Joe. I tried not to laugh. Honest. I couldn't do it.

(Still working on that "insert link" thingy.)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Spiders on drugs

Never affected me this way! Not sure how to post this vid from to this blog, but I'll keep looking!, why isn't that link active? Guess you'll have to cut-and-paste the link into your browser until I figure that one out too.



Stupid Bush

Ah, so that's how it's done with YouTube. Gotta register, then they email the vids to you. Kinda cool.

Thought I'd go ahead and seek out some of our Idiot Presidents Greatest Shits...


Martin Luther King

In honor of Martin Luther King, a short snip from his "I Have A Dream" speech, which still inspires goosebumps over 40 years later. Damn shame how America keeps killing it's best and brightest, eh?

CurrentTV aired the whole "I Have a Dream Speech" a few times on Monday. Nice to be able to tune in at random and hear the speech. Way to go CurrentTV (and it's creators Al Gore and Joel Hyatt.)

Monday, January 15, 2007

YouTube post?

Hmmm...sent a YouTube video to my Blog, somehow. How will it show up??

Post #2

Wondering what kinds of things I can include here?

Obviously a .gif works.

How about a .wmp file?

Better late than never

Better late than never. That's my (current) motto.

It's about time I got around to having a web presence. Better late than never.

It's about time that the Democrats showed a spine and slapped Bloody George. Better late than never.

Aw, I just gave away my political inclination, and in the very first post! Oh, well, that's out of the way.

Add another lefty to the fray. The trick is getting the righties to realize that, in so many ways, under close examination, they share many, many lefty ideas. Better late than never.

As for the middle-ese, make up yer freakin' minds. Better late than never.

And, as for the none-of-the-above-ese, cool. Whatever. Get out of the way, would you?