Monday, November 23, 2009

Advice You'll Probably Never Use

Don't put a black computer keyboard on a computer in a dark corner of a room where the only dim light source is behind your back so that the keyboard is constantly in your shadow.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Fish Is Dead

Our short-lived crowntail betta died. He never really received a proper name. We asked the kids what they wanted to name him, but they couldn't agree on anything. The name that got the most, albeit weak, support was "Beefy." I don't know why Bagel thought a tiny fish should be named "Beefy," but there you go.

At any rate, he's now gone to Fishy Heaven. And I had to reprise my explanations of the precise mechanism by which the toilet is connected to Fishy Heaven.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

More Democracy In America

From Chapter 13 (emphasis added):
Jefferson himself, the greatest Democrat whom the democracy of America has yet produced, pointed out the same evils. "The instability of our laws," said he in a letter to Madison, "is really a very serious inconvenience. I think that we ought to have obviated it by deciding that a whole year should always be allowed to elapse between the bringing in of a bill and the final passing of it. It should afterward be discussed and put to the vote without the possibility of making any alteration in it; and if the circumstances of the case required a more speedy decision, the question should not be decided by a simple majority, but by a majority of at least two-thirds of both houses."
Ahhh, if only we could get our modern day legislators to listen to Jefferson's wisdom...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My Letter To A Serviceman, On The Occasion Of Veteran's Day

Excerpts from a letter that I wrote to a serviceman.


Dear [Serviceman],

... I have to confess that despite being married to a (peacetime) veteran I’m not all that clear on what should be done to honor our veterans. ... When veterans are recognized, it tends to be in a sort of stylized fashion. I’ve never been one to do anything in a stylized fashion, so I’ve kind of avoided that sort of thing. I have to wonder if it rings hollow in veterans’ ears to have some politician who’s been backstabbing them for decades give a speech on Veteran’s Day that manages to contain every usual platitude about serving our country while at the same time condescending to what he obviously thinks are poor stupid brutes who didn’t know any better than to serve their country. But the only other Veteran’s Day events that go on there are sales. Honestly I wonder if the veterans would rather be honored by 30% discounts on mattresses than this sort of tripe speech.

I have a friend who did several tours in the Sandbox and it always seemed to me that he was happy that people were grateful for his service, but at the same time knew that many of the people who thanked him were just mouthing the words that they’d been taught to say, because they had no idea what they were being grateful for. I wonder if my words thanking veterans would have any meaning at all if they are not motivated by a sufficiently deep understanding of the hell our veterans have been through on our behalf. But when I start to think about it, it just literally blows my mind that a person would go overseas and risk death and watch his companions die in gruesome ways so that I could have nothing more important to worry about than missing a good deal on cube steaks at the market. I honestly don’t know what to say. “Thank you” sounds so shallow and meaningless in the teeth of such a sacrifice. What do you say to a person who’s proven himself willing to die for you? Just “thank you for your service”?

How does a veteran come home to a country that’s largely indifferent to him? At least some veterans would probably prefer to skip the kind of fawning ticker-tape parade and endless rubber-chicken banqueting that I suppose would be the alternative to silence, not only because those who volunteer to serve their country tend to be self-effacing but also because they’re more than just their service and would probably like to get back to the part of their lives that isn’t about military service. I just know that it would be extremely difficult for me to have made such a large sacrifice and come home to a country where women dress up in garish pink costumes to spit on everything I’ve just done on their behalf. “You’re welcome,” I’d mouth silently at my television.

But then again, I’m not a veteran. I don’t think I’m the type who would go in the first place. I’m far too cowardly and I hate participating in any kind of struggle with real consequences, though I’ll do it if the need arises. I’m proud of my husband’s service, and I cry a little (at least inside) whenever I think that none of my boys might be able to follow in his father’s footsteps. ... I’m proud that my grandfathers fought in World War II and that one of my grandfathers also worked on the Apollo missions. And I’m glad that you and your buddies are over there fighting for me. So this Veteran’s Day, know that when it comes your turn to be a veteran and return to your home, that at least one of the people out there who is saying nothing is merely overwhelmed with gratitude.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Thought Of The Day

Everyone should read (or, in my case, re-read) Alexis de Tocqueville's masterwork Democracy In America. In a time when we are largely disconnected with our uniquely American past, such that we are longing to be more like Europe, it is enlightening to read de Tocqueville's description of the historical differences between Americans and Europeans. From chapter 5 (emphasis mine):

In certain countries of Europe the natives consider themselves as a kind of settlers, indifferent to the fate of the spot upon which they live. The greatest changes are effected without their concurrence and (unless chance may have apprised them of the event) without their knowledge; nay more, the citizen is unconcerned as to the condition of his village, the police of his street, the repairs of the church or of the parsonage; for he looks upon all these things as unconnected with himself, and as the property of a powerful stranger whom he calls the Government. He has only a life-interest in these possessions, and he entertains no notions of ownership or of improvement. This want of interest in his own affairs goes so far that, if his own safety or that of his children is endangered, instead of trying to avert the peril, he will fold his arms, and wait till the nation comes to his assistance. This same individual, who has so completely sacrificed his own free will, has no natural propensity to obedience; he cowers, it is true, before the pettiest officer; but he braves the law with the spirit of a conquered foe as soon as its superior force is removed: his oscillations between servitude and license are perpetual. When a nation has arrived at this state it must either change its customs and its laws or perish: the source of public virtue is dry, and, though it may contain subjects, the race of citizens is extinct. Such communities are a natural prey to foreign conquests, and if they do not disappear from the scene of life, it is because they are surrounded by other nations similar or inferior to themselves: it is because the instinctive feeling of their country's claims still exists in their hearts; and because an involuntary pride in the name it bears, or a vague reminiscence of its bygone fame, suffices to give them the impulse of self-preservation.

I think we've already become too much like Europe, thankyouverymuch, and need to get back to our roots.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Take Your Mind Off Health Care

Trust me, there's no way you can think about health care when you see this.

It'll do wonders for your blood pressure, though I'm not sure it'll have any effect on that feeling that the world is going to hell in a handbasket.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Creative Tea Party Swag

I saw Dana Loesch wearing a Gadsden Flag pendant on PJTV, and it looked like the sort of thing one might find on Etsy, were there any Etsians willing to cater to the Tea Party crowd (a doubtful proposition seeing as how Etsy mostly leans left). So I thought I'd go over to Etsy and cure the high blood pressure caused by reading about the latest health care proposal with the time-honored female cure for everything that ails you: shopping!

I did find a Gadsden Flag pendant, though it wasn't as large as Dana's. The same seller also has a Constitution pendant. There were a few other Tea Party related jewelry items, though it took a lot of sifting through Alice In Wonderland stuff to find them. (In fact, that would make a GREAT Tea Party themed idea: who in Congress is not as mad as a hatter?) There was this letter T pendant made from a recycled Starbucks gift card, this understated Tea Party Express necklace, and a Scrabble letter pin.

There was also a Taxed Enough Already drink cozy. An upcycled notebook with the famous Benjamin Franklin quote about liberty and security would make an excellent Tea Party journal. A couple of buttons express Tea Party style sentiments: "Liberty And Justice For All (not available in all areas)" and "In Memory Of The Bill Of Rights." And a couple of word art pieces with the same quote, though attributed to both Nancy Reagan and Eleanor Roosevelt: "A woman is like a teabag, you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water."

Getting into some fine art, we have this still life of a teacup with Gadsden Flag tag on the end of the tea bag string. And then there is this collage with teabags; though I don't know what it means, it spoke to me. Perhaps it's symbolic of the Tea Party movement pulling the GOP leadership along.

Last, because everyone needs some irony in their diet, here is a book flask hidden inside a book called "The Constitution Of Liberty". With a title like that, the Health Nannies will never find your secret stash... at least till they run out of toilet paper. And from the Department of Unintentional Irony, here is a Liberty Broom. Every good Tea Partier needs one to sweep the bums out of office.

Every year, our family buys a Christmas ornament to commemorate the most important thing we did that year. Princess suggested that we find a Tea Party ornament. I found this little gem, which is just perfect! If you wanted to buy it, sorry, I got there first! But I suppose you could always request that the seller make another.

Any of these (except maybe the $1000 collage, which few of us could afford) would make an excellent holiday gift for the Tea Partier among your family or friends!

Just for The Record

I don't like it when people make fun of the way First Lady Michelle Obama dresses. Yeah, when I see some of her outfits-- OK, most of her outfits-- I think "That wouldn't have been my choice." But I just don't have time to choose everyone's outfits for them, and neither do most of the people criticizing her clothes. I also didn't like it when people criticized Sarah Palin's clothes, for the same reason.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Pure Dagnasty Evil

I have no idea what I just cleaned up, but I'm sure as hell glad it's gone now. If you have a weak stomach, skip to the next post.

I'm usually a pretty good mess detective, and I'm usually not squeamish about cleaning up stuff. I don't even puke a little in my mouth any more when the kids puke in my bed. But the contents of this trash can made me ill. It can't have been there more than a day or two because I had emptied out that trash can, but it stunk to high heaven. I don't know what exactly was in it, but a pretty good approximation would be if someone threw their used toilet paper in the trash can instead of the toilet, then threw a poopy diaper on top of it, urinated in it and then puked all over it for good measure. It was an ungodly shade of orange, and inhabited by fruit flies.

First I took it directly out to the outdoor trash can and tried to dump it, but it stuck to the bottom of the can because of that bottom layer of now-wet toilet paper. I had to reach in and grab it to loosen it. Then I took it upstairs to the bathtub and used the boys' used bathwater to wash it out. I had hoped that if I swirled the water around some, most of the mess would come off, but it didn't. I had to scrub it out of the corners. After that I had to make sure all the chunks went down the drain.

I have boys so I'm used to finding all sorts of random things I don't understand, like carrots in my shoes or the bills I'd wondered how I'd missed paying under their beds, but this just flabbergasted me. I don't know what this was or how it got there, but whatever it was, it was pure dagnasty evil.